Recently a number of natural compounds–such as resveratrol from red wine and omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil–have begun to receive close scrutiny because preliminary research suggests they might treat and prevent disease inexpensively with few side effects. Turmeric, an orange-yellow powder from an Asian plant, Curcuma longa, has joined this list. No longer is it just an ingredient in vindaloos and tandooris that, since ancient times, has flavored food and prevented spoilage.
A chapter in a forthcoming book, for instance, describes the biologically active components of turmeric–curcumin and related compounds called curcuminoids–as having antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal properties, with potential activity against cancer, diabetes, arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease and other chronic maladies. And in 2005 nearly 300 scientific and technical papers referenced curcumin in the National Library of Medicine’s PubMed database, compared with about 100 just five years earlier.
Scientists who sometimes jokingly label themselves curcuminologists are drawn to the compound both because of its many possible valuable effects in the body and its apparent low toxicity.
More here. (Thanks to Laura Claridge Oppenheimer).