Monday, September 24, 2012

How Strong Is Your Liver? Part 4

Kunyit (Curcuma longa)

Turmeric or Kunyit as it is referred to in Malaysia, is one of the most commonly used curry herbs in the East. It has been the subject of medicinal research since the 1920’s.

Scientific Research

Effects on the Digestive Tract

a) Cholagogue Activity

b) Effect on Gastric Function

c) Hepatoprotective Action

The constituent in Turmeric known as curcumin has been shown to increase the secretion of bile (cholagogue effect). This was found to be due both to the improved contraction of the gall bladder as well as an increase in bile production and secretion from the liver. This has been found to be responsible for the plants use in promoting gastrointestinal health.Turmeric extract at normal doses was found to increase gastric wall mucus production and protect from gastric wall ulceration.

Extracts of Turmeric have also shown hepatoprotective effects after administration of liver toxins, carbon tetrachloride and galactosamine to experimental animals. It was clearly demonstrated that Turmeric possesses liver protective properties.

Anti-inflammatory Effects

Curcumin, one of the active constituents of Turmeric, has been shown in many conclusive studies to possess anti-inflammatory actions. Curcumin has performed well in double-blind trials on rheumatoid arthritis sufferers, as well as for post-operative inflammation.

Antioxidant Activity

Curcumin was found to inhibit lipid peroxidation and free radical damage. Its effect was found to be stronger than Vitamin E.

Anti-cancer Activity

a) Cancer Prevention

b) Anti-Tumour Activity

Turmeric’s anti cancer properties are also related to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. It has been recently demonstrated that Turmeric increases the activity of the carcinogen detoxification enzyme glutathione-S-transferase in the stomach, liver and esophagus of mice. Animal studies have shown a strong reduction in tumor growth and cancerous cells after administration of Turmeric extracts.

Therapeutic Indications:

♦ To improve gastric and hepatic digestive function

♦ As an anti-inflammatory agent for arthritis and other inflammatory conditions such as dysmenorrhoea, asthma, eczema and psoriasis.

♦ Cardiovascular disease or those with increased risk, e.g. smokers.

♦ As a preventative for those exposed to high levels of carcinogens, or at risk of developing cancer.


1. Khar et al, Antitumor activity of curcumin is mediated through the induction of apoptosis in AK-5 tumor cells. Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad, India.

2. Kawamori et al, Chemopreventive effect of curcumin, a naturally occurring anti-inflammatory agent, during the promotion/ progression stages of colon cancer. Cancer Res 1999 Feb 1;59(3):597-601

3. Sidhu et al, Enhancement of wound healing by curcumin in animals. Wound Repair Regen 1998 Mar-Apr;6(2):167-77

4. Deshpande et al, Protective effect of turmeric (Curcuma longa L.) extract on carbon tetrachloride-induced liver damage in rats. Indian J Exp Biol 1998 Jun;36(6):573-7

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