Turmeric is a flavorful spice that is common in many Southeast Asian cuisines. For more than 4,000 years, turmeric has also been used as an herbal medicine in traditional healing practices. A chemical in turmeric known as curcumin gives the spice a vibrant yellow color, and some scientists believe that this natural extract can be beneficial for individuals with certain medical concerns.
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In the ancient Indian healing practice of Ayurveda, turmeric is a common solution for easing symptoms of indigestion. Because of its reported benefits for the stomach, scientists have begun to investigate if turmeric can help individuals with certain digestive disorders. A review of clinical trials regarding the use of curcumin for improving symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease conducted by the Department of Pharmacy at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio concluded that while more human studies were needed, there was evidence that curcumin could be beneficial when used along with other therapies for the disease.
Scientists are also interested in how turmeric could be used to ease the pain and stiffness of joints experienced by people with different types of arthritis. It is suggested that curcumin may have some analgesic or anti-inflammatory abilities. As a result, some researchers feel it could lessen the discomfort associated with joint problems. A team at the Bone and Cartilage Research Unit of the University of Liège, the Institute of Pathology and the Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Department of Princess Paola Hospital in Belgium reviewed previous studies concerning the benefits of curcumin for individuals with osteoarthritis, concluding that supplementation with the herb could be a successful intervention for pain.
Studies into the actions of curcumin for those with rheumatoid arthritis have shown more mixed results. There have been positive findings from studies at both Nirmala Medical Centre in Kerala, India, and the Arizona Center for Phytomedicine Research at the Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy of the University of Arizona.
Based on early scientific data, there may be other potential uses for curcumin and turmeric supplements. Small investigations have revealed promising results for many conditions, including heart disease, some forms of cancer and Alzheimer's. While the research results concerning the benefits of turmeric and curcumin have been positive in many cases, the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database cautions that there is not enough conclusive evidence to determine that the spice and its extract are truly beneficial for any health condition.
A turmeric or curcumin supplement is not meant to take the place of medical care from a physician, but with a doctor's support, many people can successfully use the supplement as a part of their overall healthy lifestyle. There are side effects associated with the use of turmeric or curcumin. These may include nausea, dizziness, or diarrhea. In addition, turmeric may worsen gallbladder problems or problems of GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease). It may also slow blood clotting. In addition, turmeric or curcumin may interact with medications. Consult a pharmacist or physician about potential drug interactions, or talk to your doctor to find out if the turmeric and curcumin supplements here at drugstore.com are right for you.
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