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    Sunday, January 14, 2007

    He Who Controls The Spice Controls The Universe

    Eat turmeric.  Clue:  It's in curry, people.

    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. They ponder how the spice or its derivatives might be used, not just as a treatment but as a low-cost preventive medication for some of the most feared ailments. As a treatment, it also has some enticing attributes. Because curcumin targets so many biological pathways, it could have benefits for cancer therapy: malignant cells may be slow to acquire resistance to it and so might have to go through multiple mutations to avoid the substance's multipronged attack.

    That's from Scientific American.  Not kidding, this is for real.  Can curry help prevent cancer?  Diabetes?  Alzheimer's?  Zing!

    I have a sudden urge for Indian food.


    1 Comment:

    Anonymous said...

    Add cinnamon to the list. It's great in spaghetti sauce too.

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