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Turmeric Isn't The Cure-All Everyone Thought It Was: Curcurmin Has No Beneficial Effects, Study Says

Update Date: Jan 20, 2017 08:30 AM EST

Turmeric, the bright yellow spice dubbed as a superfood, may not be the cure-all spice everyone thought it was. According to a recent study, curcumin, the active ingredient found in turmeric, has limited, if any, actual health benefits.

In a new study published in the Journal of Medical Chemistry, a team of scientists has found that curcumin has little to not therapeutic benefit. This is despite the number of previous studies that have linked the root to helping the brain repair damaged cells, treat drug-resistant tuberculosis and much more.

According to Medical Xpress, turmeric has been used for centuries in traditional medicine and even in the modern world, many people have been using it for a variety of purposes - to reduce inflammation and boost the immune system, among others. More than 120 clinical trials to test the claims, that curcumin is the ingredient in turmeric that gives its health-boosting properties, have been in the process of being studied.

About 5 percent of turmeric is the molecule curcumin, which gives turmeric its distinctive yellow color. To get to know more of curcumin's essential medical chemistry, the researchers got key findings from thousands of scientific articles on the topic.

Their review of the vast literature discussing curcumin's properties showed that the molecule is unstable under physiological conditions. Another problem is, curcumin is not readily absorbed in the body.

Moreover, studies on rats have shown that they absorb less than 1 percent of the curcumin they eat and the molecule reacts easily when combined with other substances. Hence, it either transforms or falls apart as soon as it's eaten. Characteristics like these make it a poor therapeutic candidate.

According to Forbes, the researchers estimated that people in the United States are spending as much as $20 million a year on curcumin supplements, but they couldn't find a single randomized, controlled trial proving its therapeutic and medicinal value.

Michael Walters said that people should not stop eating turmeric but the studies on its medicinal properties should continue.

"Turmeric is certainly not going to hurt you, and there may be something else in there that's biologically active," Walters said as reported by Time.

"All we know right now is that curcumin itself is not the panacea that people think it is," he added.

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