is a compound found in turmeric
, a spice often used in Indian cuisine. There has been much interest in the potential health benefits of curcumin. Specifically, it is claimed to provide medicinal benefits when used for the following conditions:
Sometimes, curcumin is used topically (applied to the skin) for a variety of conditions, such as ringworm or infections. Also, some people use turmeric, which contains curcumin, to treat just about everything, from liver disease to headaches
Some of these uses have more scientific evidence in their favor than others (see Does Curcumin Work? for more information)
Curcumin may have several different effects in the human body, such as:
- Anti-inflammatory -- Curcumin seems to inhibit several different inflammatory substances and enzymes. This may be helpful for a number of conditions, such as arthritis or heart disease.
- Angiogenesis inhibition -- Curcumin may inhibit the growth of new blood vessels (a process known as angiogenesis). This property may be useful for preventing or treating cancer, but it could cause problems in the treatment of heart disease.
- Blood clotting -- There is some evidence that curcumin may help to prevent blood platelets from sticking together (a process known as platelet aggregation), an important step in the formation of blood clots.
There is also some evidence that curcumin may have antioxidant effects and may stimulate the immune system.