Turmeric is native to South Asia where it is important herb in both Asian cuisine and traditional medicine. The rhizome is rich curcuminoids, most notably curcumin, that are responsible for the bright yellow colour of curries and most of the medical research focus on these compounds.
Turmeric has a numerous medicial actions but it's primarily used as an antiinflammatory and antioxidant. Research studies show that turmeric and its active compound curcumin are as effective as antiinflammatory drugs in the management of joint pain and osteoarthritis and have less side-effects. Also this antiinflammatory effect shows potential for treating neurodegenerative diseases, particularly Alzheimer's disease.
Historically, turmeric was used to treat inflammation and infections of the digestive tract. In additional to its antinflammatory actions, it possess some carminative, antimicrobial and antiulcer effects. Both animal and human clinical trials show turmeric has promise in treating inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) with most of the studies showing improvment in ulcerative colitis.
Thousands of research studies have been published testing the effects of turmeric and/or curcumin against various types of cancers. Curcumin has been shown to induce apoptosis (aka cancer cell suicide) in a variety of cancer types and also has been shown to decrease the side-effects of certain types of chemotherapy. Numerous clinical trials show that tumeric improves outcomes with cancer patients.
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