Curry ingredient soothes inflamed colon

May 28, 2002 in Gastrointestinal Health, Nutrition Topics in the News

Curry ingredient soothes inflamed colon

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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