If you have a brain-crushing headache, you are probably better off eating a bowl of steaming curry rather than swallowing the regulatory doses of aspirin, according to a new study funded by the Scottish Executive. The study found that salicylic acid, the active ingredient in aspirin, is naturally available in certain Indian spices like cumin, turmeric and paprika, all of which are vital ingredients in a curry.
Researchers at the Rowett Research Institute said that curry does not cause side effects like internal bleeding and ulcers, which are common with long-term aspirin use. "One portion of vindaloo we examined contained 95mg of salicylic acid, more than the amount in an aspirin tablet. A low-dose aspirin tablet contains about 65mg of the acid," the researchers added.
Curcumin, which is found abundantly in turmeric, is thought to be responsible for this healthy effect. "The dietary level of salicylic acid in curry is exceptionally high. I wouldn't recommend a curry a day for headaches, but it is possible that someone with a headache who is a very good absorber of salicylic acid might find it went away if they had a vindaloo," said the study's lead author Professor Garry Duthie.
"The hotter the curry is, the greater the possible benefits. A korma, with relatively low levels of spices, would be less effective than a vindaloo or a phal, the hottest curry widely available in Britain."