Indian scientists have found turmeric compound, curcumin, to
be highly effectively in soothing gastric inflammation and ulceration. They
claim that the compound may hold the key in developing new drugs against such
Turmeric at the optimum dose is highly effective in soothing
gastric inflammation and ulceration, which could be the key to developing new
drugs against such stomach disorders, say Indian scientists.
Turmeric, which belongs to the ginger family of plants, has
been used as an alternative medicine since the last 3,000 years. It is also
known to have antiseptic properties.
Curcumin is its major component responsible for the spice's
yellow colour and its therapeutic effects.
"It (curcumin) has been shown to be a good cure for
gastric ailments like inflammation and ulceration. While its low doses are not
effective, at high doses it might aggravate the situation. But we have come up
with the optimum dose at which curcumin is therapeutic," Snehasikta
Swarnakar, senior scientist at Indian Institute of Chemical Biology (IICB)'s
Drug Development Diagnostic and Biotechnology Division, who led the research,
IICB is an institute under the Council of Scientific and
Industrial Research (CSIR), India's
premier industrial R&D organisation.
Gastric ulceration and inflammation occur as a side effect
to indiscriminate use of pain-killers (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or
NSAIDs) and also due to stress.
Researcher conducted on rats helped in successfully
evaluating the optimum dose. "For rats, the proper dose is around 50 mg
per kg of their body weight, which is equivalent to 100 mg per kg of body
weight in humans," said Swarnakar.
The study, published in 2012 in the Anti-oxidants and Redox
Signaling Journal, was also the first to shed light on the exact mechanism by
which curcumin aids the healing process.
"This is the first study to reveal that the presence of
curcumin in the system before or after ulcer development may promote formation
of new blood vessels at the site of healing, and restore collagen fibres - the
tissue that adds structural strength to body parts," said co-researcher
Nilanjana Maulik of the University of Connecticut School of Medicine,
NSAIDs like indomethacin breaks up the blood vessel network
in the stomach tissues and disrupts the collagen fibres - the tissue
responsible for structural strength.
"Curcumin comes to the rescue by regulating the levels
of two enzymes involved in the formation of new blood vessels, Swarnakar said.
One of the enzymes - MMP-2 - is a house-keeping enzyme that
should be present in the system, and the other - MMP-9 - is inflammatory which
is not required in the body.
"Curcumin increases the levels of MMP-2, while
simultaneously lowering the MMP-9 level. This balance between the two enzymes
is the key to its actions," Swarnakar said.