Turmeric has been and still is a key component of both the Chinese and Indian systems of med¬icine, where it is used as an anti-inflammatory agent and in the treatment of numerous condi¬tions, including flatulence, jaundice, menstrual difficulties, bloody urine, hemorrhage, tooth¬ache, bruises, chest pain, and colic. Turmeric poultices are often applied locally to relieve in¬flammation and pain.
Curcumin, turmeric’s yellow pigment, has demonstrated significant anti-inflammatory activity in a variety of experimental models. In fact, in numerous studies, curcumin’s antiinflammatory effects have been shown to be comparable to those of the potent drugs hydrocortisone and phenylbutazone, as well as over associated with significant toxic effects, including ulcer formation, decreased white blood cell count, and intestinal bleeding, curcumin produces no toxicity.
Other clinical studies have further substantiated curcumin’s anti-inflammatory effects, including a clinical effect in rheumatoid arthritis. In this study, curcumin was compared to phenylbutazone. The improvements in the duration of morning stiffness, walking time, and joint swelling were comparable in both groups. In a new human model for evaluating antiinflammatory drugs, 400 milligrams of curcumin was comparable to 100 milligrams of phenylbutazone and 400 milligrams of ibu- profen.
Clinical studies have also substantiated that curcumin exerts very powerful antioxidant effects. Curcumin’s antioxidant actions enable it to protect healthy cells from free radicals that can damage cellular DNA and lead to cancer. This action is significantly beneficial to areas of the body such as the lining of the colon, where cell turnover is quite rapid—approximately every three days. Because of their frequent replication, mutations in the DNA of colon cells can result in the formation of cancerous cells much more quickly. Evidence is mounting that aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may prevent colorectal cancer. However, in animal studies, curcumin has been shown to inhibit colon cancer more effectively than aspirin at all stages, from initiation to promotion and progression.
Furthermore, curcumin helps the body to destroy mutated cancer cells, so they cannot spread through the body and cause more harm.