Monday, November 16, 2009

Curry as Cure? Spicing Up the Effectiveness of a Potential Disease-Fighter

ScienceDaily (Nov. 16, 2009) — Scientists are reporting development of a nano-size capsule that boosts the body's uptake of curcumin, an ingredient in yellow curry now being evaluated in clinical trials for treatment of several diseases.

Their study is in ACS' Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, a bi-weekly publication.

Yellow curry contains curcumin, a promising disease-fighter. Scientists developed nano-sized capsules containing the curry ingredient in an effort to improve its absorption and effectiveness in the body. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Koji Wada and colleagues note that curcumin is a potent antioxidant found in the spice, turmeric. Clinical trials are checking its safety and effectiveness for colon cancer, psoriasis, and Alzheimer's disease. However, digestive juice in the gastrointestinal tract quickly destroys curcumin so that little actually gets into the blood.

Scientists have known for years that encapsulating insulin and certain other drugs into structures called liposomes can boost absorption. The scientists prepared the liposomes encapsulating curcumin and fed them to laboratory rats.

Encapsulating more than quadrupled absorption of curcumin, and also boosted antioxidant levels in the blood. The encapsulating process could be an answer to the problem of increasing curcumin's absorption in the digestive environment of the gastrointestinal tract, they suggest.