Turmeric (Curcuma longa)
In the past few decades, numerous research studies have been carried out to determine the benefits and possible adverse side effects of Turmeric (Curcuma longa) (Grant, 2000; Jurenka, 2009; Prucksunand et al., 2002). Curcumin, a compound found in Turmeric, is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent and antioxidant (Luthra, Singh & Chandra, 2001). In a study conducted to determine the antioxidant activity of 23 spices, turmeric was ranked as the second most active spice (Lin et al, 2015; Sahebkar et al., 2015). The miscrosome and liver homogenatics of turmeric fed rats yielded lipid peroxidation values of 35% and 29%, respectively, compared to rats on a control diet (Bourinbaiar & Lee, 1996; Mishra & Palanivelu, 2008; Youssef & El-Sherbeny, 2005).
In a study by Garcea et al (2004) to determine the impact of C. longo extract on 18 healthy men, within a time of 75 days, the levels of serum lipid peroxide was seen to have significantly reduced in these men following 45 days of treatment. Elsewhere, curcuminoids, as present in turmeric was found to offer protection to normal human keratinocytes against xanthine/hypoxanthine oxidase injury, in “synergistically inhibited nitroblue tetazolium reduction” (Bourinbaiar, 1996), and this is a sign that the superoxide radical formation has decreased. The role of Curcumin as a powerful scavenger of free radicals has been documented in various studies involving rabbits (Sreejayan & Rao, 1996), while administering antioxidant curcumin orally to rats led to a significant reduction in lung fibrosis (Manhas et al., 2014; Sari et al., 2014). The anticancer activity of turmeric has also been documented by several studies, for example, Lu et al. (2009) and Wilken et al. (2011) where the administration of turmeric extracts led to reduced concentrations in tumor burden and lipid peroxidation (Sharma et al., 2010).
Studies have been conducted to determine the anti-inflammation and toxicity properties of Curcumin in animals, human, and vitro studies. In phase 1 human trial in which the 25 subjects consumed nearly 800 mg Curcumin daily for 90 days, the researchers did not find any toxicity from Curcumin (Chainani-Wa 2003). As regards the adverse side effects of turmeric, according to Araujo and Leon (2001), “ in vitro, curcumin exhibits anti-parasitic, anti pasmedic, anti-inflammatory and gastrointestinal effects” (p. 723). Tumeric has been declared by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) as a GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) substance (Sharma et al., 2010). The clinical studies conducted by various scholars have not reported any major side effects (O’Sullivan-Coyne, O’Sullivan & O’Donovan, 2009). Even among rheumatoid arthritis patients to whom 1200mg/day of curcumin was administered for two weeks, there were no reported side effects (Mishra & Palanivelu, 2008; 85). On the other hand, a few studies have reported rare cases of allergic dermatitis upon the administration of Carcumin patients with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) in a clinical study (Moorthi et al., 2012; Suresh & Srinivasan, 2010).
A study involving 19 patients to whom 2500 mg of curcumin was administered daily reported complaints of gastric irritation by two patients. However, the study did not report any other adverse effects (Jia et al., 2009). Mild side-effects have also been reported among patients fed on 2g/day of turmeric, including headache, nausea, tiredness, sleepiness, and diarrhea (Suresh & Srinivasan, 2012). An 18-month study that was conducted to determine the use of curcumin in the treatment of mucous membrane and skin cancers reported a case of scalp itching, from a group of 62 patients (Suresh & Srinivasan, 2010). Elsewhere, few allergic reactions were reported in individuals who had not been exposed to curcumin before (Li, Qin & Liang, 2009).
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