New research in animals suggests that the curry spice turmeric may help reduce and even prevent inflammation of the intestines. The spice contains curcumin, a compound thought to be a potent anti-inflammatory agent effective in wound healing.
The researchers induced severe colitis, or colon inflammation, in mice using a chemical and immediately gave the mice a diet containing 0.5%, 2% or 5% curcumin for a week. The mice are used to study inflammatory bowel disease, a condition that causes intestinal inflammation, cramping and chronic diarrhea in humans. The investigators also gave some of the mice a 2% diet of curcumin before the colitis was induced, to see whether the compound had a preventive effect, and 2 days after colitis was induced, to see whether the substance had healing powers if administered at a later point.
The mice that received no curcumin had a 30% death rate due to colitis. However, the death rate was 28.6% with a 0.5% curcumin diet, 26.7% with 2% curcumin, and 20% with a 5% curcumin diet. None of the mice given the curcumin 2 days before colitis was induced died.
The researchers concluded that curcumin could be a potential therapeutic agent to treat and prevent inflammatory bowel disease in humans.
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