Turmeric is known as a spice with many virtues. Perfect for seasoning dishes, it can be a formidable ally in fighting acne, for example.
But this herbaceous plant may also be effective in treating indigestion. According to a study published in the British Medical Journal, turmeric – and, more specifically, a compound called curcumin – is believed to reduce gastrointestinal symptoms as much as omeprazole, which is known to reduce gastric acid secretion.
To reach this conclusion, a sample of 151 people suffering from functional dyspepsia – a digestive disorder that causes pain or discomfort in the upper abdomen – was divided into three groups. For 28 days, the groups received treatment with either curcumin (two 250mg capsules four times a day) or omeprazole (20mg once a day), or a combination of the two.
After 28 days of treatment, the researchers observed a similar reduction in dyspepsia symptoms (pain, bloating, heartburn, etc.) in all three groups. Symptoms were further reduced at a reassessment 56 days after the start of treatment.
“In addition to anti-inflammatory and antioxidant purposes, curcumin/turmeric could be an option for treating dyspepsia with comparable efficacy to omeprazole,” said lead study author Dr Krit Pongpirul from Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok.
Turmeric is the subject of many scientific studies that set out to investigate its effectiveness on health. In the United States, turmeric or curcuma is “generally recognised as safe” as a food ingredient.
Certain cultures have used it in traditional medicine for various issues but, at this time, the US food and drug authority has not approved it for treatment of any medical condition.
In addition to digestive issues, some areas where the effects of turmeric are being investigated include arthritis, painful or irregular menstrual periods, cancer and skin problems.
The researchers hope to conduct more research on a larger scale to assess the risks and benefits of turmeric and curcumin in the longer term.