Spice that Stems Liver Disease
Thursday 20 March, 2004 – Washington, Mar 20 (ANI): A new study has found that a Curcumin, an essential ingredient of curry, prevents alcohol-related liver damage.
The study on rats has found that the substance that gives the spice turmeric its distinctive yellow colour, stopped the changes caused by excessive alcohol consumption that lead to liver disease.
The research, published in American Journal of Physiology – Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology, adds to the repertoire of benefits already shown by curcumin, which include anti-oxidant properties and anti-cancer activity. However, it does not mean that people eating curries can safely drink more alcohol, warns Kalle Jokelainen, one of the team of Finnish and American researchers.
“Curcumin is not harmful, and it may protect your liver from liver disease if you have very high amounts – but this has only been seen in rats,” he says.
For the study, the team gave rats fish oil with either ethanol or dextrose added for four weeks. The rats that also received doses of Curcumin did not develop the fatty livers, necrosis and inflammation seen in those not given the spice extract.
Furthermore, the doses used in the experiments were much greater than would ever be used in cooking with turmeric, he says. Alcoholic liver disease is a serious problem, he says, but the answer is to drink less.
Jokelainen, at Helsinki University Central Hospital, said that Curcumin somehow blocks the activation of a key molecule called nuclear factor kappa B (NFkB). This molecule directs the chain of events that leads to inflammation and death of tissue. It is activated by many stimuli including radiation, heat shock and endotoxins – the toxins associated with bacteria.
“If you drink too much, that leads to leaky gut syndrome,” Jokelainen told New Scientist. “Somehow endotoxins from the gut reach the blood and are carried to the liver. The liver is a filter and inactivates the endotoxin, but the price paid is that NFkB is activated.” (AN