Turmeric, a spice used in India to flavor traditional dishes, delays liver damage that eventually causes cirrhosis, say Austrian scientists. A study published in Gut, a publication of the British Medical Journal, found that the compound curcumin found in turmeric, is a powerful anti-inflammatory that reduces the inflammation that causes damage and scarring of liver cells.
The scientists wanted to find if curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric that gives the spice its bright yellow color, could delay damage caused by progressive inflammatory liver disease. Two conditions — primary sclerosing cholangitis and primary biliary cirrhosis — can be triggered by genetic defects or autoimmune disease, and cause the liver's bile ducts to become inflamed, scarred, and blocked. The conditions can eventually be fatal.
The Austrian researchers studied tissue and blood samples from mice with chronic liver inflammation before and after adding curcumin to their diets for four or eight weeks. They discovered that the compound significantly reduced liver cell damage and the blockage of bile ducts.
The amazing health benefits of curcumin from turmeric have been shown in many recent studies. One study at the University of California, Los Angeles, found curcumin may treat Alzheimer's by slowing the build-up of amyloid plaques in the brain.
Laboratory studies at the University of Texas found that turmeric appeared to prevent the development and spread of many types of cancer, including breast, colon, and melanoma. Other studies have found a link between a reduced risk of leukemia and colon cancer in populations whose diets include large amounts of turmeric.
Turmeric can be purchased as a supplement. Follow the directions on the bottle.