Turmeric is a flowering plant of the ginger family. Its roots are used in cooking, especially in South Asia.
Scientists have been examining the health benefits of turmeric for a long time.
They have found that a compound called curcumin plays a big role in detecting and treating the neuro-degeneration in many eye and brain diseases.
However, one of curcumin’s disadvantages is that it cannot be fully absorbed by our body.
Recently, researchers have found that other compounds in turmeric can provide additional health benefits.
For example, a team from Baylor Scott & White Health found that curcumin combined with essential turmeric oils could fight against chronic inflammation more effectively.
In the study, they compared the anti-inflammatory benefits of curcumin with a combination of both curcumin and essential turmeric oils.
They examined how curcumin alone and curcumin paired with turmeric oils affect ulcerative colitis, a chronic disease that causes inflammation in the digestive tract.
The team found that CCL17, a protein in cells that induces intestinal inflammation, was suppressed by both curcumin and essential turmeric oil-curcumin combination treatments.
Moreover, the latter treatment was much more effective.
The researchers suggest that pairing curcumin with turmeric essential oils could enhance its bioavailability in circulation by nearly tenfold.
This can provide better protection from chronic disease than using curcumin alone.
In another study, researchers from UCL and Imperial College London found that turmeric eye drops could help treat vision loss.
They developed a new method to deliver curcumin directly to the back of the eye using eye drops. This could overcome the challenge of curcumin’s poor solubility.
The turmeric eye drops can reduce the loss of retinal cells, which is known to be an early sign of glaucoma, an eye condition that could lead to blindness. The study was conducted in mice.
After twice-daily use of eye drops in the mice for three weeks, the researchers found that retinal ganglion cell loss was strongly reduced compared with a non-eye-drops group.
In addition, the turmeric treatment was well-tolerated with no signs of eye irritation or inflammation.
The researchers hope that the finding could also be used to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease.
Both studies are published in Scientific Reports.
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