Turmeric (Curcuma longa) has been used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat gut problems like IBS. The components of turmeric include the three curcuminoids: curcumin, demethoxycurcumin, and bisdemethoxycurcumin, volatile oils (tumerone, atlantone, and zingiberone), sugars, proteins, and resins. Curcumin as well as the oils are said to be primarily responsible for the anti-inflammatory activity of Turmeric. In fact according to clinical studies, the anti-inflammatory activity of curcumin seems to be comparable to steroidal drugs and non-steroidal drugs such as indomethacin and phenylbutazone
Curcumin has the ability to inhibit synthesis of prostaglandins and cytokines (immunomodulating agents) which regulate the body's inflammatory response. The curcumin molecule has been shown to be capable of interacting with numerous molecular targets involved in inflammation. Curcumin has also shown antispasmodic properties in lab experiments.
It is generally believed that IBS is caused due to problems with the muscular contractions of the digestive tract or dysfunction of the nerves controlling the organs of the gastro-intestinal tract. For people with IBS several factors could trigger an IBS flare-up. This includes indigestion of sugars & fats, caffeine, stress, prescription medications, trapped gas in intestines and hormonal changes as in menstruation.
Clinical studies based on early cell culture and research on animals indicate that curcumin may be useful in diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease, pancreatitis, chronic anterior uveitis, arthritis, as well as certain types of cancer. The anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic properties of curcumin are the likely causes of relief turmeric provides in Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
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