It may seem counterintuitive, but the fiery spices found in Indian cuisine may help douse the flames of heartburn and indigestion. Turmeric, which provides the yellow color that is characteristic of curry dishes, has a history of use among herbalists as an anti-inflammatory remedy, according to the American Cancer Association. Early research suggests, as of June 2011, that turmeric may indeed help reduce inflammation.
Turmeric is made from the dried, powdered roots of the Curcuma longa plant, which is grown in India and other parts of Asia, according to "Alternative Medicine Review." It has a warm, bitter taste, and it is an ingredient in curry spice mixes. The use of turmeric as a medicinal agent has been ongoing for the past 4,000 years, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.
The cardinal signs of inflammation are redness, heat, swelling and pain, or as doctors refer to them, rubor, calor, tumor and dolor. None of these symptoms sound particularly appealing, but in fact they are signs that your immune system is working to fight infection or injury. When inflammation continues for a prolonged period of time, however, the damage it causes can outweigh the benefits.
Turmeric and Inflammation
Turmeric has an inhibitory effect on substances called cytokines that promote inflammation, according to "Alternative Medicine Review." The active substance in turmeric, called curcumin, is also thought to suppress the expression of genes that promote inflammation.
Turmeric and Upset Stomach
Stomach discomfort can arise from a variety of sources. Turmeric has shown therapeutic benefits in treating such gastrointestinal disorders as indigestion, ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease, according to "Alternative Medicine Review." The University of Maryland Medical Center notes that the mechanism behind turmeric's ability to decrease dyspepsia, or upset stomach, may involve the stimulation of the gallbladder. Curcumin stimulates the production of bile from the gall bladder, and bile aids in digestion.
Turmeric and its active ingredient, curcumin, are considered safe when taken in foods or as a supplement at the recommended dosages, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. There are, however, several medical conditions that necessitate a doctor's approval before you take turmeric. These include diabetes, gallstones, and pregnancy or lactation. For others, a dosage of 400 to 600 milligrams of standardized curcumin powder is recommended three times a day. Consult your doctor before taking any herbal supplements.
Is This an Emergency?
- University of Maryland Medical Center; Turmeric; David Zieve, MD, MHA, and David R. Eltz; August 2010
- American Cancer Society; Turmeric; November 2008
- "Alternative Medicine Review"; Anti-inflammatory Properties of Curcumin, a Major Constituent of Curcuma longa: A Review of Preclinical and Clinical Research; Julie S. Jurenka; 2009