Turmeric has once again been in news recently, as it has outperformed several modern day medicines. Curcumin, an active component in turmeric has been used in the ancient form of Indian Medicine, Ayurveda, for thousands of years now. The western science is now catching on, with its latest researches having proven the effectiveness of turmeric in treating various ailments. The latest news is that turmeric is as effective as 14 other drugs used in treatment of various major ailments.
Turmeric is one of the most well-researched plants, as its primary components, particularly ‘Curcumin’ has been subjected to several biomedical studies. The long research on this sacred plant has unveiled more than 600 potential preventive and therapeutic applications, and 175 distinct physiological effects. Growing number of studies have concluded that this wonder spice compares favourably to variety of conventional medications.
Studies on turmeric vs. drugs so far revealed the following:
Atorvastatin/Lipitor (cholesterol medication) – A 2008 study published in the journal ‘Drugs in R&D’ revealed that a standardized preparation of curcuminoids extracted from turmeric compared favorably to the popular cholesterol medication drug ‘atorvastatin’.
Dexamethasone (corticosteroid drug) – Another 2008 study published in ‘Critical Care Medicine’ found that curcumin compared favorably to ‘dexamethasone’, the corticosteroid drug, used for protecting lung transplantation-associated injury.
Prozac/ Impipramine/Fluoxetine (antidepressants) – A 2011 study published in the journal ‘Acta Poloniae Pharmaceutica’ revealed that curcumin compares favourably to anti-depressant drugs used for reducing depressive behavior in animal models.
Aspirin (blood thinner) – A study published in the journal ‘Arzneimitte forschung’ in 1986 revealed that curumin has the potential to modulate platelets and prostacyclin, which indicates that it may be effective in patients prone to vascular thrombosis, and requiring anti-arthritis therapy.
Ibuprofen / tamoxifen /sulindac (anti-inflammatory drugs) – A 2004 study published in ‘Oncogene’, a journal, has revealed that curcumin is as effective as the drugs aspirin, ibuprofen, sulindac, naproxen, tamoxifen, and others in exerting anti-inflammatory and anti-proliferative activity against tumour cells.
Oxaliplatin (chemotherapy drug) – Curcumin is said to compare favourably with oxaliplatin, an anti-proliferative agent, in colorectal cell lines, according to a 2007 study published in the ‘International Journal of Cancer’.
Metformin (diabetes drug) – A study published in the journal ‘Biochemistry and Biophysical Research Community’ in 2009 explained that curcumin is valuable in treating diabetes, and that it is 500 to 100,000 times more potent than ‘metformin’ in activating AMPK (which increases glucose uptake).
Multi-drug Resistant (Cancers) – About 27 studies has so far proven in the ability to induce cell death or sensitize multi-drug resistant cancer cell lines to conventional treatment.
Use of turmeric in Ayurveda
Ayurveda has been using and advising turmeric-based remedies for several illnesses for ages now. Turmeric has been used for centuries in Ayurveda, the 5,000 year old natural healing system of India, to balance the three doshas – vata, pitta and kapha. Ayurvedic practitioners recommend this herb as medicine taken internally in the form of fresh juice or boiled tea or powder, and topically as creams, lotions, pastes and ointments.
There are several ancient Ayurvedic formulas with turmeric as the main ingredient. Turmeric is added to boiled milk and used as remedy for cold from times immemorial in many households. Ayurvedic treatments use turmeric paste topically on sprains, inflammed joints, wounds, insect stings, and to treat skin diseases. In the earliest Ayurvedic book ‘Charaka Samhita’ a section on Therapeutics states that turmeric, together with black pepper or long pepper makes an effective combination for several illnesses. Curcumin, the active substance in turmeric, is one of the best antioxidants with anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic properties, and when combined with pepper, its effectiveness grows ten-fold.
Ayurveda uses turmeric as a major ingredient in its medications for regulating cholesterol levels and triglycerides, regulating sugar levels, liver detoxification, regulating digestive tract, stabilizing metabolism, weight reduction, boosting immunity, improving brain functioning, reducing blood pressure, treating neurological disorders, reducing triglycerides, and as excellent antiseptic and analgesic.
Now, the latest research on turmeric says its can play a lead role in fighting HIV. A recent study at the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research in Bangalore said that when scientists fed curcumin to HIV-infected cells in the laboratory, the virus stopped replicating.
Turmeric has obviously stood the test of time. Hence, taking into consideration on how strongly a track record of turmeric has helped in the field of food and medicine, in a range of cultures for thousands of years, it can strongly be argued that curcumin can be used as an alternative drug in several major treatments. It is best to use certified organic turmeric in lower doses on daily basis for nourishing yourself, rather than using huge doses of it later in life as medication