Turmeric has been traditionally used for pulmonary and gastrointestinal system problems. Research within the 50 years has shown much of the supposed benefit of turmeric is due to curcumin, the active component. Curcumin, a polyphenol, has displayed activity in antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and anti-fungal capacities. Because of this, polyphenols have generated inquiries into their potential to provide support for ailments proven to be therapy resistant, including chronic illnesses. Although curcumin is used as a supplement in many countries, it has not been approved for the treatment of any human disease. Regardless, the experimental research and animal studies have many people interested in the benefits of this golden spice.  
How Does Turmeric Work?
Oxidative stress and inflammatory reactions are critical stressors in the body that predicate many chronic illnesses. Curcumin has been thought to have beneficial effects against chronic illnesses due to its potent anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory activities.   Oxidative damage causes aging, stress on cells and oxidative damage can result from inflammation and free radicals. Oxidative damage is a huge concern in cases of obesity, liver disease, and alcohol induced liver problems. In fact, Researchers at China’s Tongji Medical College discovered curcumin may potentially offer improvement for chronic alcoholic liver disease due to it’s propensity to alleviate oxidative damage. 
Curcumin, capsaicin, and gingerol, have been reported to provide improved health to their consumers, especially with regard to diabetes. Research by the Department of Pathology at Saint Louis University discovered that curcumin inhibits the effects of insulin on fat storage cell activation by interrupting insulin signaling and reducing oxidative stress. 
Turmeric and the Liver
Obesity leads to many problems, including liver disease. In a study designed to examine the effect of curcumin on liver inflammation, researchers at National Yang Ming University discovered that obese mice, when given curcumin, lost weight and had reduced cholesterol levels. Researchers noted the results offered encouragement that curcumin may have potential for confronting fatty liver disease.  This action is due to curcumin’s inhibition of fat storage cell activity, the major instigators of liver disease. In cultured fat storage cells, curcumin was found to suppress bad cholesterol and inhibit fat storage cell activation. 
Efficacy Against Harmful Organisms
In research intended to examine the antibiotic activity of curcumin against food pathogens, including e. coli, the College of Food Science and Technology in China evaluated curcumin’s effect on cultured organisms and found it to have broad inhibitory effect. Furthermore, researchers noted its antifungal activity to be even higher. 
In a study aimed to evaluate the inhibitory effect of curcumin on bacteria, human teeth that had been inoculated with Streptococcus were found to have reduced bacterial adherence after being given doses of curcumin. Results support the use of curcumin as a food-based antimicrobial agent. 
Although many preclinical studies suggest curcumin has therapeutic application, the effectiveness of curcumin in randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind clinical trials is still to come. Some have speculated the bioavailability of curcumin to be sub par and that, combined with rapid metabolization, may limit its application. However, many studies have tested curcumin alone and in combination with other agents as encapsulations, emulsions, tablets, and powders. Now, some studies have responded by formulating curcumin nano particles to determine if the decreased particle size increases bioavailability. One study involving rats and asthma found that dosing with curcumin nanoparticles increased concentrations of curcumin in the lung and liver. In the animal model, the nano-particles effectively suppressed airway hyperresponsiveness and inflammation, leading to conclusions that curcumin nano particles could eventually be a promising candidate for asthma therapy.   
-Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, ND, DACBN, DABFM
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