Tucson Health: Medicine in the spice rack

2010-08-25T10:02:00Z 2010-08-25T11:04:31Z Tucson Health: Medicine in the spice rackStephanie Innes Arizona Daily Star

There's more news to bolster the positive health effects of turmeric.

The National Institutes of Health is giving two University of Arizona researchers $1 million to advance their research on curcumin in the treatment of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD).

The money will allow Pawel Kiela and Dr. Fayez K. Ghishan of the Steele Children's Center at the University of Arizona College of Medicine to continue their research. The researchers have previously shown curcumin decreases severe inflammation in the gut.

Curcumin is the biologically active ingredient in turmeric – the key ingredient in curry. Curcumin has been used in India for thousands of years to treat colds, inflammation, arthritis and many other ailments.

IBD refers to two inflammatory diseases: Crohn’s Disease, which affects the entire gastrointestinal tract, and ulcerative colitis, which affects the colon. Both cause severe abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, fatigue and weight loss.

 "We know that curcumin is an effective supplemental treatment for individuals with IBD,” Ghishan said. “Now we’re trying to answer the question of how curcumin inhibits inflammation and provides protection to the gut.”

Ideally, the researchers say, the benefits of curcumim will apply not only to IBD but to many other inflammatory disorders associated with impaired lining of the gut.

Inflammation is a major area of study now for medical researchers, who believe it's at the root of many diseases, including stroke and vascular problems.

Local integrative/alternative medicine guru Dr. Andrew Weil has even developed an "anti-inflammatory food pyramid" that he believes will help prevent many chronic diseases of old age. Most disease, he says, begins with an inflammation that goes unchecked.

In addition to turmeric, Weil recommends garlic, ginger and cinammon for inflammation prevention.

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About this blog

Stephanie Innes brings you the latest health information. Contact her at sinnes@tucson.com

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