Tag Archives: Zingiberaceae

Turmeric may prevent liver damage

A new Saint Louis University study has revealed that a chemical that gives curry its zing holds promise in preventing or treating liver damage from an advanced form of a condition known as fatty liver disease.

The chemical, curcurmin, is contained in turmeric, a plant used by the Chinese to make traditional medicines for thousands of years.

The recent study has highlighted its potential in countering an increasingly common kind of fatty liver disease called non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).

“My laboratory studies the molecular mechanism of liver fibrosis and is searching for natural ways to prevent and treat this liver damage,” said Anping Chen of Saint Louis University.

Turmeric

Turmeric

“While research in an animal model and human clinical trials are needed, our study suggests that curcumin may be an effective therapy to treat and prevent liver fibrosis, which is associated with non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH),” said Chen.

High levels of blood leptin, glucose and insulin are commonly found in human patients with obesity and type 2 diabetes, which might contribute to NASH-associated liver fibrosis.


Chen”s work has tested the effect of curcumin on the role of high levels of leptin in causing liver fibrosis in vitro, or in a controlled lab setting.

“Leptin plays a critical role in the development of liver fibrosis,” he said.

High levels of leptin activate hepatic stellate cells, which are the cells that cause overproduction of the collagen protein, a major feature of liver fibrosis.

The researchers found that among other activities, curcumin eliminated the effects of leptin on activating hepatic stellate cells, which short-circuited the development of liver damage.

Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a rhizomatous herbaceous perennial plant of the ginger family, Zingiberaceae.
It is native to tropical South Asia and needs temperatures between 20°C and 30°C, and a considerable amount of annual rainfall to thrive. Plants are gathered annually for their rhizomes, and reseeded from some of those rhizomes in the following season.

The rhizomes are boiled for several hours and then dried in hot ovens, after which they are ground into a deep orange-yellow powder commonly used as a spice in curries and other South Asian and Middle Eastern cuisine, for dyeing, and to impart color to mustard condiments. Its active ingredient is curcumin and it has a distinctly earthy, slightly bitter, slightly hot peppery flavor and a mustardy smell.

In medieval Europe, turmeric became known as Indian saffron, since it was widely used as an alternative to the far more expensive saffron spice.

Erode, a city in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu, is the world’s largest producer and most important trading center of turmeric in Asia. For these reasons, Erode in history is also known as “Yellow City”[citation needed] or “Turmeric City”. Sangli, a town in the southern part of the Indian western state of Maharashtra, is the second largest and most important trading center for turmeric in Asia.

Ginger as a pain killer?

For centuries, ginger root has been used as a folk remedy for a variety of ailments such as colds and upset stomachs. But now, researchers at the University of Georgia have found that daily ginger consumption also reduces muscle pain caused by exercise.

While ginger had been shown to exert anti-inflammatory effects in rodents, its effect on experimentally-induced human muscle pain was largely unexplored, said Patrick O’Connor, a professor in the College of Education’s department of kinesiology. It was also believed that heating ginger, as occurs with cooking, might increase its pain-relieving effects.

O’Connor directed two studies examining the effects of 11 days of raw and heat-treated ginger supplementation on muscle pain. Collaborators included Chris Black, an assistant professor of kinesiology at Georgia College and State University in Milledgeville, UGA doctoral student Matt Herring and David Hurley, an associate professor of population health in UGA’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

Ginger root

Participants in the studies, 34 and 40 volunteers, respectively, consumed capsules containing two grams of either raw or heat-treated ginger or a placebo for 11 consecutive days. On the eighth day they performed 18 extensions of the elbow flexors with a heavy weight to induce moderate muscle injury to the arm. Arm function, inflammation, pain and a biochemical involved in pain were assessed prior to and for three days after exercise.

Ginger is known to have more than twelve types of anti-oxidants, making it useful for treatment of many disorders. Like other spices, it has aphrodisiac properties and is used widely for medicinal purposes.

This herb contains essential oils, protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, vitamin C, choline, folic acid, inositol, manganese, panthotenic acid, silicon, and a small amount of vitamin B3.

The studies showed that daily ginger supplementation reduced the exercise-induced pain by 25 percent, and the effect was not enhanced by heat-treating the ginger.

Native to India and China, ginger has long been known to be an aphrodisiac and an excellent digestive agent. Recent studies undertaken by scientists have attributed painkilling properties as well to this medicinal herb. Read on to know more about ginger, the painkiller.


Ginger’s anti-inflammatory properties heal pain and mitigate the inflammation associated with arthritis, muscle spasms and rheumatism. This has been confirmed by research conducted at the University of Sydney in 2001. The researchers had stated that ginger may be an alternative to painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs.

According to the study, active ingredients in ginger – compounds called gingerols are similar in structure to capsaicin, the active ingredient of capsicum and chilli pepper that are known pain relievers. Capsaicin acts on a specific receptor in the body that sits on pain sensory nerve endings. This receptor is called the vanilloid receptor and it normally reacts to heat and acidity.

The ‘hot’ sensation experienced when you eat chili originates from the capsaicin in the chili coming in contact with those pain receptors. But the catch is that capsaicin dulls pain receptors only after setting them off. It initially causes pain but after some time prevents the sensation of pain.

And this is where ginger scores over capsaicin. Gingerol found in ginger also acts on the vanilloid receptor but since it is less pungent than capsaicin found in capsicum, pain is relieved without the initial painful response. The best way to use ginger as a painkiller is by taking it with tea multiple times a day.