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Study: Turmeric may work as well as common drugs that treat indigestion

  Curcuma longa plant contains a naturally active compound called curcumin.  [iStockphoto]

Turmeric is well known as a spice used in the kitchen to give food a distinctive colour and flavour.

However, a new study published in the British Medical Journal (Evidence-Based Medicine), has identified additional benefits of the spice which comes from the root of the Curcuma longa plant.

The plant contains a naturally active compound called curcumin which has long been used as a remedy for treating various ailments including indigestion.

 A group of scientists set out to investigate how well turmeric compares with conventional drugs in treating indigestion.

In the trial, researchers recruited patients from hospitals in Thailand who had recurrent upset stomach patients. The patients aged 18-70 years were randomly assigned into one of the three groups for a period of 28 days.

“Patients in the combination group received two capsules of 250mg curcumin, four times daily, and one capsule of 20mg omeprazole once daily for 28 days.”

Of the 206 patients enrolled, 151 completed the study with 20 in the curcumin group, 19 in the omeprazole group and 16 in the combined treatment group dropping. 

During the trial, the patients were restricted from using aspirin or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs within a period of 3 months.

The patients were also restrained from consuming curcumin or curcumin-rich food and were not supposed to have symptoms of constipation, diarrhoea, or any stomach complications to be approved for the trial.

Consequently, the Severity of Dyspepsia Assessment (SODA) score indicated a significant reduction in symptom severity by day 28 for pain and other symptoms and stronger after 56 days of pain.

“This multicentre randomised controlled trial provides highly reliable evidence for the treatment of functional dyspepsia. The new findings from our study may justify considering curcumin in clinical practice,” the study noted. 

The researchers are planning to conduct a long-term study to identify if there could be other prolonged benefits and effects of using turmeric powder.

A study by the National Library of Medicine had previously established that turmeric can be used to treat cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, cancer, allergy, asthma, bronchitis, colitis, and arthritis among others.

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