In Western society, turmeric is primarily known as the delicious spicy component that gives curries and curry powder its yellow color. What may be lesser known about this native South East Asian spice, however, is its traditional use in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicines for a wide range of ailments, including arthritis, constipation, skin disease, and cancer. Turmeric (Curcuma longa) contains the active constituent, curcumin, which is what gives this Ayurvedic herb its deep yellow pigment.
Recently, turmeric was studied to determine if it reduces inflammation in the intestinal tract. Ulcerative proctitis and Crohn’s disease are considered inflammatory bowel diseases with very similar symptoms, such as diarrhea and rectal or abdominal pain and bleeding as a result of intestinal inflammation. As reported in Digestive Diseases and Sciences (2005;50:2191–3), 10 patients—five with ulcerative proctitis and five with Crohn’s—were given large doses of curcumin several times daily. Nine of the 10 patients experienced improvement in their symptoms after two months of treatment. Several of the patients were able to reduce or discontinue their medications for their intestinal condition.
Although this was a small study, it holds promise that turmeric may be a useful treatment for inflammatory bowel disease and warrants further research.
Healthnotes Newswire (December 15, 2005)—The common kitchen spice turmeric may hold the key to turning off inflammation in the gut, reports Digestive Diseases and Sciences (2005;50:2191–3).