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Turmeric is a member of the ginger family and has been used as a coloring agent, spice and medicine for thousands of years. The active constituents are the diarylhepanoids, including curcumin, which are found in the vividly yellow rhizome.
Effect of Turmeric on Asthma
Curcumin is a powerful anti-inflammatory in both acute and chronic asthma conditions, and it is believed to work in a variety of biological pathways to reduce inflammation. In some models studied, curcumin showed a similar efficacy to cortisone and phenylbutazone.
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Research Evidence on Turmeric
In an uncontrolled trial in India, 60% of asthma patients given 6-12 grams of turmeric powder that had been fried in ghee showed a relief in their symptoms.
Turmeric is on the FDA's GRAS (generally recognized as safe) list, and curcumin, too, is believed to be fairly nontoxic. 1 Reported side effects are uncommon and are generally limited to mild stomach distress.
However, there is some evidence to suggest that turmeric extracts can be toxic to the liver when taken in high doses or for a prolonged period of time. 2 For this reason, turmeric products should probably be avoided by individuals with liver disease and those who take medications that are hard on the liver.
In addition, due to curcumin's stimulating effects on the gallbladder, individuals with gallbladder disease should use curcumin only on the advice of a physician. However, safety in young children, pregnant or nursing women, and those with severe kidney disease have also not been established.
- Ammon HPT, Wahl MA. Pharmacology of Curcuma longa. Planta Med. 1991;57:1-7.
- Deshpande SS, Lalitha VS, Ingle AD, Raste AS, Gadre SG, Maru GB. Subchronic oral toxicity of turmeric and ethanolic turmeric extract in female mice and rats. Toxicol Lett. 95(3):183-93.
National Institutes for Health and National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2005. Traditional Chinese Herbs May Benefit People With Asthma. (Online) http://nccam.nih.gov/research/results/spotlight/061609.htm accessed 02-01-2010
Staff. 2006. Natural Herbs for Asthma. (Online) http://www.hebalsupplementesourcement-resource.com/herbs-for-asthma.html accessed 02.01.10
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