“Inflammatory response: A fundamental (normal) type of response by the body to disease and injury, a response characterized by the classical signs of "dolor, calor, rubor, and tumor -- pain, heat (localized warmth), redness, and swelling.
Innumerable insults (a mosquito bite, a splinter, a virus, infection, a bruise, a broken bone) can trigger an inflammatory response and dispatch cells and chemicals to the site to repair the damage. Inflammation is a key part of the body's defense system, an indispensable protective response by the body's system of self-defense.
Acute inflammation is short-lived, lasting only a few days. If it lasts longer, it is referred to as chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation may last weeks, months, or beyond. Paradoxically, the inflammatory process itself may cause tissue damage while it is engaged in healing and repair. Thus, inflammation may play a role in such diverse disorders as Alzheimer’s disease, meningitis, atherosclerosis, cystic fibrosis, asthma, cirrhosis of the liver, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), diabetes, osteoporosis, and psoriasis.” (2)
The body’s response to injury is an activation of the immune system sending chemicals to the injury site in an attempt to repair the damage. However, the same action may result in further damage to the same site. The damage done can be the precursor to a worsened disease state. Reducing the inflammation then may help alleviate the disease and provide a greater chance for the body to heal the damage. Numerous are the anti-inflammatory aids such as Ibuprofen, and yet the same anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) have dangerous side effects such as stomach ulcers, liver and kidney damage, and an increased risk of stroke. Turmeric has shown no such side effects and yet exhibits an amazing number of “side benefits”. (1)
A number of studies have suggested that curcumin, the biologically active constituent in turmeric, protects against Alzheimer's disease by turning on a gene that codes for the production of antioxidant proteins. A study published in the Italian Journal of Biochemistry (December 2003) discussed curcumin's role in the induction of the the heme oxygenase pathway, a protective system that, when triggered in brain tissue, causes the production of the potent antioxidant bilirubin, which protects the brain against oxidative (free radical) injury. (4)
Such oxidation is thought to be a major factor in aging and to be responsible for neurodegenerative disorders including dementias like Alzheimer's disease. Another study conducted jointly by an Italian and U.S. team and presented at the American Physiological Society's 2004 (4) annual conference in Washington, DC, confirmed that curcumin strongly induces expression of the gene, called hemeoxygenase-1 (HO-1) in astrocytes from the hippocampal region of the brain. (5)
Turmeric’s anti-inflammatory power has been documented in over 3,000 published studies which examined the benefits of Turmeric for diseases like diabetes, indigestion, heart disease, and cancer. Although it is beneficial when added to the diet as a spice for tasty dishes, several patented forms of supplements are shown to enhance the bioavailability of curcumin and thus speed the healing process. Curcumin can pass through the blood brain barrier, therefore it is beneficial in the treatment and prevention of Alzheimer’s disease. (3)
Warning: Turmeric might act like estrogen. If you have any condition that might be made worse by exposure to estrogen, don’t use turmeric.
1. PubMed Health http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMHT0010648/?report=details#side_effects
2. Medicinenet.com http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMHT0010648/?report=details#side_effects
3. Balasubramanian K. Molecular Orbital Basis for Yellow Curry Spice Curcumin's Prevention of Alzheimer's Disease. J. Agric. Food Chem., 54 (10), 3512 -3520, 2006. 10.1021/jf0603533 S0021-8561(06)00353-0, Web Release Date: April 20, 2006. 2006.
4. Calabrese V, Butterfield DA, Stella AM. Nutritional antioxidants and the heme oxygenase pathway of stress tolerance: novel targets for neuroprotection in Alzheimer's disease. Ital J Biochem. 2003 Dec;52(4):177-81. 2003.
- Calabrese V, et. al. Paper on curcumin's induction of hemeoxygenase-1. Presented at the annual conference of the American Physiological Society, held April 17-21, 2004, Washington, D.C. 2004.
Lana J Thomas 1/22/2015