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Curcuma longa

Curcuma longa                                     Common name: Turmeric
Family:
Zingiberaceae

Parts used: Rhizome

Constituents: Volatile oil (zingiberene, tumerone), Curcuminoids (Curcumin), bitter principle, resins, CHO, proteins, nutrients, flavonoids

Medicinal actions:  Anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-cancer, anti-microbial, antibiotic, astringent, circulatory stimulant, choleretic, anthelmintic, hypolipidemic, anti-platelet aggregating, carminative, alterative, liver trophorestorative, hepatoprotector

Medicinal use: Used internally for liver and digestive complaints, dysmenorrhea, jaundice, and as an anti-inflammatory agent. Is cytotoxic and may be used to prevent and to treat cancer. As an anti-inflammatory agent, can be useful for arthritic conditions, RA, OA, tendonitis, bursitis & pain in general. Will promote liver function and bile production & flow as will protect the liver from toxic agents. Turmeric is also a useful digestive aid to relieve flatulence and to protect the stomach mucosa against ulceration.

Pharmacology:

  • Volatile oils (zingiberene & tumerone) are anti-inflammatory and choleretic
  • Curcumin is primarily lipophilic and has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects greater than those of hydrocortisone. Exerts its anti-inflammatory actions topically via the mechanisms mentioned above with additional counter-irritant activity which will deplete nerve endings of substance P (neurotransmitter of pain).
  • It can protect DNA against single strand breaks induced by single oxygen. When administered orally, curcumin inhibits neutrophil function, inhibits platelet aggregation, inhibits lymphocyte activity, promotes fibrinolysis, & stabilizes lysosomal membranes.
  • Curcumin interferes with intestinal cholesterol-uptake by increasing the conversion of cholesterol into bile acids via:  stimulation of hepatic cholesterol-7-alpha-hydroxylase (the rate limiting enzyme in bile acid synthesis) & through increased bile acid secretion. Inhibits platelet aggregation by inhibiting the formation of thromboxanes (promotes aggregation) & increasing prostacylin (inhibits aggregation).

Pharmacy: Dried turmeric root: 1.5 – 3g QD. Curcumin:  250-300 mg TID; for acute inflammation:  400-600 mg TID (equivalent to 8-60 g of turmeric). Poultice: apply as needed. Tincture: (1:1, 45%), 5-14 ml QD.

Note:  Curcumin is not well absorbed orally (40%-85% is absorbed) and taking equal amounts of bromelain with it or taking the curcumin in a lipid base will possibly enhance its absorption.

Toxicity: There have been no reports of toxicity at standard dosage levels. Possible sensitization problems exist for high concentration tumerone (skin rash/photosensitivity).

Contraindications: Caution with biliary obstruction, gallstones or stomach hyperacidity/stomach ulcer.

Interactions: None known. 

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