Health A-Z

What Exactly is Turmeric?

Written by Paul R.

Turmeric is a plant that many know about as the main spice in curry.  But the root of turmeric is also used widely to make medicine and herbal supplements.  Turmeric contains over 300 different components including the active ingredient curcumin.  In vitro and animal research shows curcumin is a highly pleiotropic molecule capable of interacting with numerous molecular targets involved in inflammation. A study of 107 patients with knee OA showed that turmeric extract was as efficacious as ibuprofen in alleviating symptoms (J Altern Complement Med. 2009 Aug;15(8):891-7).

Several years back, in 2006, another study also found that turmeric supplements, which contain curcuminoids, profoundly lessened joint inflammation and destruction, ii presumably by blocking inflammatory pathways and thereby preventing the increased production of a protein that triggers swelling and pain.

Curcumin is most known for its potent anti-inflammatory properties. It has been shown to influence more than 700 genes, and it can inhibit both the excessive activity and the synthesis of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX2) and 5-lipooxygenase (5-LOX), as well as other enzymes that have been implicated in inflammation.

About the author

Paul R.

North Carolina