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Curcumin: Powerful Natural Relief From India
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Ayurveda is the traditional health care system of India and is possibly the oldest system in the world having been in use for thousands of years. It is a holistic system based on achieving balance between body, mind and spirit and includes use of herbs as well as yoga, meditation, breathing exercises and techniques for releasing negative emotions. Studies of some of the common ayurvedic herbs have found them to be effective for a variety of ailments and conditions.

One of the most popular Ayurvedic herbs is turmeric, a member of the ginger family that is a main ingredient in most curry powders and gives it its characteristic yellow color. The active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin which is available in capsule form from health food stores.

Research indicates that turmeric may be effective for the following conditions:

  • Osteoporosis. A 2010 study of rats with ovaries removed to simulate menopause found that an enriched extract of curcuminoids prevented up to 50% of bone loss compared to controls and also preserved bone structure. Researchers concluded that curcuminoids may be protective for bones and may be a safe alternative to estrogen therapy for menopausal women. The study was funded and cited by the National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM).
  • Rheumatoid arthritis, animal studies. Turmeric is known for its anti-inflammatory properties and is often suggested for arthritis pain. Another study funded by the NCCAM looked at the effectiveness of curcuminoids for preventing swollen joints due to rheumatoid arthritis in rats. Some of the rats received curcumins before symptoms appeared and some after. Curcuminoids proved to be safe and effective at low doses and worked better when given before symptoms appeared.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis, human studies. In a study cited by the Linus Pauling Institute, 18 individuals with rheumatoid arthritis found curcumin to be comparable to using their regular non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). Curcumin was also found to be effective for reducing the swelling and pain following hernia surgery in a placebo controlled trial of 40 men.
  • Altzheimer's disease. In yet another study funded in part by NCCAM, scientists observed the impact of curcumin and fish oil (omega 3 fatty acids) on Alzheimer's disease in mice. They found that a high fat diet increased Alzheimer's symptoms and that both fish oil and curcumin (alone or in combination) helped to prevent them. Mice on the high fat diet also performed better in a maze when receiving curcumin and fish oil.
  • Cancer. Curcumin has been found to promote cell death, or apoptosis, in some cancers. The Mayo Clinic reports that curcumin may help slow the spread of cancer and the growth of new blood vessels in tumors based on animal studies.

Some Ayurvedic herbs may interact with medication. Consult your doctor before trying new remedies. Purchase herbs from a reputable source as studies have found some to be contaminated by heavy metals.


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