Is showing promise in many areas ranging from anti-oxidant activity, to anti-cancer properties, lowering cholesterol, protection of the cardiovascular system and HIV. Doing a search on Medline shows positive research results on various forms of cancer from oral to colon and breast cancers. Ayurvedic uses widely range from anaemia  arthritis, blood purification, digestive disorders, skin disorders and inflammatory conditions.

The crucial chemical is curcumin, a compound found in the spice. Alzheimer’s is linked to the build up of knots in the brain called amyloid plaques. Turmeric reduced the number of these plaques by a half. The researchers also found that turmeric had other health benefits. It aids digestion; helps fight infection and guards against heart attacks. In the study, middle aged and aged rats were fed a diet rich in curcumin. All the rats received brain injections of amyloid to mimic progressive Alzheimer’s disease. Not only was there less evidence of plaque build up in the curcumin-fed rats, they also outperformed rats on normal diets when carrying out maze-based memory tests. Curcumin also appeared to reduce Alzheimer’s-related inflammation in the brain tissue. Researcher Dr Sally Frautschy said the compound had potential as a treatment for the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease – particularly in tandem with anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen. Dr Richard Harvey, director of research at the Alzheimer’s Society, said: “Curcumin has both anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Scientists at The Hospital for Sick Children (Sick Kids) and Yale University School of Medicine have found that a compound in the spice turmeric corrects the cystic fibrosis defect in mice. This research is reported in the April 23, 2004 issue of the journal Science.

July 11, 2005 — The essential curry spice that gives Indian curries their characteristic yellow color may also be a potent cancer fighter.

A new study shows that curcumin, the yellow pigment found in the spice turmeric, kills and stops the growth of melanoma skin cancer cells in laboratory tests. Melanoma is the deadliest and can be the most difficult-to-treat form of skin cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, melanoma accounts for about 4% of skin cancer cases, but it causes about 79% of skin cancer deaths.

It’s not the first time that curcumin has been hailed as a potential disease fighter. The spice has both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects that may be useful in combating a variety of diseases.

But researchers say this is the first study to demonstrate that curcumin works in both high concentrations for short periods of time and at low concentrations for long periods of time to trigger cancer cell death.