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The Anti-inflammatory Effects of Curcumin from Turmeric
We may hear Turmeric from cooking shows or Asian recipes; it is an ingredient that adds aroma and spice to many Asian or Indian cuisines, but its active ingredient Curcumin may have benefits that extend to more than just a culinary wonder.
A rhizomatous herbaceous plant of the ginger family, Turmeric had been used by Asians for many purposes. Turmeric is native to South Asia, and people gather the plant for their rhizomes (root stocks), which are then boiled and dried. After this they are ground until it becomes a deep orange/yellow powder.
Turmeric had been present for Asian cookery, cosmetics, textile dyeing and medicine for over 2000 years. In the ancient tradition of Ayurveda in India, Turmeric is used for eye infections, wounds, acne and bites. In parts of Northern India, this is given as a tonic that women drink after childbirth; poultice of turmeric is also used to treat lacerations caused by child birth. Its use extends even up to the modern times, in fact, Pharmaceutical Company Johnson and Johnson manufactures turmeric Band-Aids distributed in India. But how exactly does Turmeric do this?
We can attribute the therapeutic effects of this herb to its active ingredient polyphenol curcumin. This active ingredient belongs to the family of phenols, and this is the one responsible for turmeric’s yellow color.
Several studies done reveal that this active ingredient have anti-inflammatory properties, this means curcumin has the potential to suppress or prevent inflammation and relieve the body from its detrimental effects. Inflammation is the body’s natural reaction to stress, trauma or to a foreign body, the presence of inflammation acts as a warning signal informing the body that there is a potential threat that must be acted upon. Though this process is entirely helpful to the body, if this is sustained or prolonged, it causes unwanted effects such as pain and infection. This is the reason why aside from treating the root of the inflammation, anti-inflammatory drugs are given to relieve the body from its damaging effects.
The process of inflammation involves a string of chemical and cellular responses from the body, biochemical such as cyclo-oxygenase and lipo-oxygenase take part in this process. Once these chemicals are released in our body, the process of inflammation now begins. In vitro experiments conducted in the past reveal that curcumin inhibit the activities of lipo-oxygenase and cyclo-oxygenase. When these chemicals are suppressed, the process of inflammation somewhat comes to a halt. Further studies also reveal that curcumin suppresses the activities of pro-inflammatory monocytes and interleukins, these compounds mark the cascade of inflammation. By inhibiting the components that mark the beginning of inflammation, the process comes to a halt and the body is relieved of the damaging effects such as pain, redness and swelling.
Aside from its anti-inflammatory, it was also found out that curcumin have potent antioxidant effects, more potent than the activities of alpha-tocopherol or Vitamin E. More researches and studies explore on the possible anti-inflammatory effects of curcumin, so it may be to no wonder, that in the future, we may see this as a prescribed medicine for our inflammation problems.