According to the Medical College of Georgia researchers, besides lowering chances of getting cancer and Alzheimer's disease, turmeric has many other health benefits.
Second-year medical student Jay McCracken is working with Dr. Krishnan Dhandapani, neuroscientist in the MCG School of Medicine, using animal models to study curcumin's effect on intracerebral hemorrhages, bleeding in the brain caused by ruptured vessels.
Patients with this type of stroke are often treated for symptoms - such as headache and nausea - with medications, but not the stroke itself. Invasive surgery to remove the clot is usually needed, but some patients may not be good candidates, says McCracken.
"We found that curcumin significantly decreases the size of a blood clot, but we're not sure why it happens," says McCracken.
According to him, it is because curcumin is a potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant.
To reach the conclusion, the researcher dissolved the yellow powder, which gives turmeric its color, in corn oil and injected it into the abdomen of an animal model of hemorrhagic stroke three times over three hours.
He suspects less may work and is trying to establish the optimal dose and timing.
Timing is critical for patients who often don't know they have had a stroke and may not be seen by a physician for several hours.
"Usually, patients can experience other symptoms like seizures, vision or cognitive problems, so they come to the (emergency room) fairly quickly under most circumstances," says Dhandapani.
"Many patients also arrive due to head trauma and are seen within an hour or so. However, treating these injuries, even after an hour, can be tricky," he added.
Patients likely will need to get curcumin intravenously.
The researchers believe it may also help prevent strokes; they intend to pursue this line of study with the idea of also making it available in a concentrated tablet form for those at-risk.