Turmeric, the spice responsible for
curry's yellow hue, has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic or
traditional Indian medicine to treat a variety of ailments. Its active
ingredient is curcumin, which is found in the plant's underground stem and
is reputed to have antioxidant properties. Several studies are
investigating the spice's anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer potential.
Traditionally, turmeric is used to stimulate appetite, lower cholesterol,
treat arthritis, muscle pain, indigestion, liver disease, cancer and HIV
infection, among other conditions.
Recommendations for dosages of turmeric vary but range from 300mg to 600mg
of curcumin three times a day, taken with meals. Supplements often contain
a few hundred grams of curcumin per capsule. Turmeric is also available as
a powdered spice and a liquid extract.
A word of
caution : Turmeric can thin the blood, so it should be avoided by people
on anticoagulant drugs. It can also cause stomach irritation - especially
in large doses. So it should be avoided by people with ulcers.
Laboratory experiments have suggested that curcumin may have anti-HIV
properties, but human testing has failed to produce similar results. In
animal and lab studies, curcumin slowed or stopped the progression of
several types of cancer, including leukemia and colon cancer, but evidence
from clinical trials is need to confirm its effectiveness. Scientific
evidence supporting turmeric's other uses is sparse.