Science

Turmeric: A Powerful Anti-Disease Or Just A Spicy Mix?

By Dante Noe Raquel II , Jan 13, 2017 09:21 PM EST
There are over 6000 clinical studies proving turmeric to be the #1 healing herb today. The reason turmeric is so beneficial is because it contains an active compound called, curcumin, that is highly anti-inflammatory. (Photo : Dr. Josh Axe / Youtube)

Over the last decades, all kinds of claims have popped up neighboring the supposed health benefits of turmeric - from losing weight testimonials, preventing baldness and goes to treating cancer. But, as with most things, if it's too good to be true, it probably is.

Turmeric Might Heal Some But What Heals Is Its Spicy Content

These miracle claims start as nothing new: the spice has long been a home therapy in parts of the world. Even as of today, some people in India still apply the spice to fresh wounds and scabs hoping that it will fasten the recovery, Akshat Rathi reports for Quartz. But while thousands of research and millions of dollars have gone into believing whether it has any potential to be used in drugs. All efforts so far have turned upside down.

Now, a new study published in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry recommends research into turmeric's medicinal assets will likely never work because it doesn't have any quality of a medicinal compound. And to make it worse curcumin, the chemical often refer to as the source of turmeric's welfares, commonly tricks drug curtains into providing false positives approach, Monya Baker reports for Nature.

"Curcumin is a poster child for these immoral molecules that come up often in screens," James Inglese, director of assay development and screening technology at the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, tells Baker. "A lot of people responsible for this kind of work aren't exactly aware of all the problems that this thing can cause."

Curcumin belongs to a group of chemical composites that researchers have dubbed PAINS (an acronym for pan assay interference compounds), and it's long been identified as one of the worst of these unsatisfying chemicals. That's because it registers false positives for medicinal effects in all sorts of tests, even though it is a compound that isn't easily engrossed by the human body, Amy Wallace reports for United Press International.

It easily gets dirty, more active compounds and even incandesces under ultraviolet (light a common test to separate drug-protein interactions) makes it difficult, if not impossible, to say whether curcumin has therapeutic benefits or simply is a victim of the placebo effect. Though some experts say there is evidence that curcumin may contain other chemicals that do have medicinal assets, it's extremely unlikely that it contains anything that can help the sheer variety of settings that it allegedly cures, Wallace reports.

"Curcumin is a deterrent tale," Michael Walters, a medicinal chemist at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis and lead study author tells Baker. Many remain ignorant of these false-positive tendencies.

Though putting down turmeric may not be trendy, even the fact is that undoubtedly won't have much effect on your health but it adds a nice nutty spicy flavor to your next meal.

The researchers suggest that upcoming studies should take a more holistic tactic to account for the spice's chemically diverse ingredients that may synergistically contribute to its potential health therapeutic benefits. Or on the other hand, stays as spice for centuries.

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