HABITAT: Native to Asia, particularly India and Pakistan.
USED PART: oval primary rhizomes and elongated secondary rhizomes.
RECOMMENDED PHARMACEUTICAL PREPARATION: the dry extract titrated in curcumin min. 4 % (German Commission E), the daily dose of which is 8-10 mg./kg, divided into two doses, preferably between meals.
CHEMICAL COMPOSITION: it is a plant rich in starches, which account for 45-55% of its weight. It contains a good amount of essential oil rich in monocyclic sesquiterpenes. The colouring substances in the drug are curcuminoids, the main one being curcumin. A peptide called turmerin has also been identified.
Anti-inflammatory action: An evaluation of existing scientific studies investigated the anti-inflammatory action and safety of use of turmeric. There are numerous laboratory and animal studies confirming turmeric's valid anti-inflammatory and antioxidant action. Studies in humans indicate that high doses of turmeric strongly inhibit the production of several molecules involved in inflammatory phenomena and thus reduce inflammation.
Protective action on the digestive system:
Clinical studies have investigated the effect of a turmeric extract on patients suffering from irritable bowel syndrome. They had to take 1 or 2 capsules of turmeric extract by mouth for 2 months. The intensity of the symptomatology was measured using specially validated scales, the quality of life index and the effectiveness of the remedy according to the patients. At the end of the treatment, the improvement in symptoms was 41% in those taking just 1 capsule of turmeric extract and 57% in those taking 2. In particular, abdominal pain was reduced by 22 and 25 per cent in both cases, with an improvement in quality of life of around 36 per cent in patients treated with 2 capsules of the extract. About two-thirds of the patients rated the treatment as effective, without experiencing any major side effects.
SIDE EFFECTS: Curcumin may cause skin irritation with redness and itching after exposure to the sun. It is therefore advisable to expose only part of the body to the sun to check whether this effect occurs before exposing oneself completely.
CONTRAINDICATIONS: none known.
DRUG INTERACTIONS: A study in rats indicates that curcumin may be useful in increasing blood levels of sulfasalazine, a drug used in inflammatory bowel disease.