Curry powder health benefit by Ray Sahelian, M.D. (index of hundreds of herbal research topics)

April 5 2014

Curry is a mixture of several spices, predominantly turmeric. Curry powder, which is extensively used in Indian cuisine, for instance in curry chicken or curry shrimp, is largely made of turmeric combined with other spices such as coriander and fenugreek. Different countries and different regions within a country will have other herbs as part of their curry, but the predominant herb is turmeric. Many Indian cuisine cookbooks have curry recipe dishes.
   Curry powder contains many powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. Curcumin is one of the main substances in turmeric that gives the curry mix its yellow color.

Curcumin and Turmeric 500 mg, 60 capsules


Curcuminoids are the most studied and important substances in the spice turmeric root. Curcuminoids include curcumin, demethoxycurcumin and bisdemethoxy-curcumin. Curcumin is the major important component of Turmeric (Curcuma longa) and extensive scientific research on curcumin has demonstrated its potent antioxidant properties. Through its various mechanisms, curcumin supports colon health, exerts neuroprotective activity and helps maintain a healthy cardiovascular system.

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Benefits of Indian curry spice
Many human trials are needed before we can know with any certainty how we can best use curry powder in medicine. But one thing is certain: most doctors are not, at this time, aware of the potential benefits of curry and many Americans are not aware of delicious curry dishes or curry recipes.

Curry as a supplement
The actual yellow color of curry is mostly from curcumin and other curcuminoids, which have been getting much attention by the press regarding positive research on their various health benefits.

Cognitive Function, mental health, brain function
Curry consumption and cognitive function in the elderly.
Am J Epidemiol. 2006. Department of Psychological Medicine, National University of Singapore, Republic of Singapore.
Curcumin, from the curry spice turmeric, has been shown to possess potent antioxidant and antiinflammatory properties and to reduce beta-amyloid and plaque burden in experimental studies, but epidemiologic evidence is lacking. The authors investigated the association between usual curry consumption level and cognitive function in elderly Asians. In a population-based cohort of nondemented elderly Asian subjects aged 60-93 years in 2003, the authors compared Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) scores for three categories of regular curry consumption, taking into account known sociodemographic, health, and behavioral correlates of MMSE performance. Those who consumed curry "occasionally" and "often or very often" had significantly better MMSE scores than did subjects who "never or rarely" consumed curry. The authors reported tentative evidence of better cognitive performance from curry consumption in nondemented elderly Asians, which should be confirmed in future studies.

Curry may help protect the aging brain. It's known that long-term users of anti-inflammatory drugs have a reduced risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, although these agents can have harmful effects in the stomach, liver and kidney, limiting their use in the elderly. In a study, Dr. Tze-Pin Ng from National University of Singapore and colleagues compared scores on the Mini-Mental State Exam (MMSE) for three categories of regular curry consumption in 1,010 nondemented Asians who were between 60 and 93 years old. Most of the study subjects consumed curry at least occasionally (once every 6 months), 43 percent ate curry at least often or very often (between monthly and daily) while 16 percent said they never or rarely ate curry. People who consumed curry "occasionally" and "often or very often" had significantly better MMSE scores than did those who "never or rarely" consumed curry. Even with the low and moderate levels of curry consumption reported by the respondents, better cognitive performance was observed. These results, they note, provide "the first epidemiologic evidence supporting a link between curry consumption and cognitive performance that has been suggested by a large volume of earlier experimental evidence." American Journal of Epidemiology, 2006.

Curry Powder Research, Alzheimer's disease
Curcumin inhibits formation of Abeta oligomers and fibrils and binds plaques and reduces amyloid in vivo.
J Biol Chem. 2004. University of California Los Angeles, North Hills, CA
Alzheimer's disease involves amyloid (Abeta) accumulation, oxidative damage and inflammation, and risk is reduced with increased antioxidant and anti-inflammatory consumption. The phenolic yellow curry pigment curcumin has potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activities and can suppress oxidative damage, inflammation, cognitive deficits, and amyloid accumulation. These data suggest that low dose curcumin effectively disaggregates Ass as well as prevents fibril and oligomer formation, supporting the rationale for curry powder use in clinical trials preventing or treating Alzheimer's disease.

I really like Indian cuisine and visit local Indian restaurants frequently. It now appears that curcumin may be able to break up the "plaques" that mark the brains of Alzheimer's disease patients. Scientists found that curcumin was able to reduce deposits of beta-amyloid proteins in the brains of elderly lab mice that ate curcumin as part of their diets. Furthermore, when the researchers added low doses of curcumin to human beta-amyloid proteins in a test tube, the compound kept the proteins from aggregating and blocked the formation of the amyloid fibers that make up Alzheimer's plaques. Accumulation of beta-amyloid proteins in the brain is one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease that leads to damage to nerve cells and the resulting loss in memory and cognitive function. Long used as part of traditional Indian medicine, curcumin is known to have some anti-cancer properties, and animal research suggests it might serve as a treatment for multiple sclerosis and cystic fibrosis. Interest in curcumin as an Alzheimer's therapy grew after studies found low rates of the disease among elderly adults in India, where curry spice is a dietary staple. Curcumin is a powerful antioxidant and has anti-inflammatory properties. And since oxidative damage and inflammation mark a number of diseases of aging - such as arthritis and the buildup of plaques in the heart's arteries - curcumin eventually may prove to be useful for a range of age-related conditions.
     My comments: For those who prefer to take a capsule of curcumin rather than cook with curry or turmeric, curcumin supplements are available.

Curry ingredient fights skin cancer
The compound that makes curry yellow could help fight skin cancer. Curcumin, found in the spice turmeric, interferes with melanoma cells. Tests in laboratory dishes show that curcumin made melanoma skin cancer cells more likely to self-destruct in a process known as apoptosis. The same research team has found that curcumin helped stop the spread of breast cancer tumor cells to the lungs of mice. The curcumin suppressed two proteins that tumor cells use to keep themselves immortal. People who eat plenty of turmeric have lower rates of some cancers.