As the active ingredient in turmeric root, curcumin is a natural antioxidant with pronounced anti-inflammatory effects. Societies that incorporate tumeric into their diets demonstrate a reduced incidence of degenerative diseases of the brain, such as Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s disease, due in part to its inhibition of pro-inflammatory enzymes, cyclooxygenase-2 and 5-lipooxygenase.  Curcumin also inhibits the production and activity of leukotriences and neutrophils–pro-inflammatory white blood cells–while encouraging the synthesis of docosahexeanoic acid (DHA), shown to reduce the occurrence of anxiety-related behaviors in rats.

As an antioxidant, curcumin prevents the growth of various bacteria, pathogenic fungi, and parasitic development. In a study of guinea pigs suffering from mold toxicity, topical applications of turmeric oil resulted in the disappearance of lesions after seven days, and diets containing one-percent turmeric demonstrate a reduced number of lesions of the small intestine.

Curcumin has also been shown to enhance the effects of various antibiotics–oxacillin, ampicillin, and norofloxacin, to name a few–suggesting its effectiveness in resolving chronic infections.

In the next post, we will examine the properties of tart cherry fruit, yet another powerful antioxidant with anti-inflammatory effects.