Curry ingredient with a strong anti-inflammatory effect
Turmeric is becoming increasingly popular as a spice in Germany. Curcumin is primarily known as a curry ingredient, but there are also numerous other possible uses in the kitchen. Turmeric is also interesting from a medical point of view in view of its convincing anti-inflammatory effects. Scientists have now deciphered the mechanism of curcumin's anti-inflammatory effects.
"The curry ingredient curcumin has an anti-inflammatory effect like cortisone," reports the Saarland University on the research results. The research team led by Prof. Alexandra K. Kiemer and Dr. In the current study, Jessica Hoppstädter from Saarland University has deciphered how turmeric helps against inflammation. The researchers published their results in the journal "Journal of Biological Chemistry".
Effect in cell cultures examined
Together with researchers from the Universities of Frankfurt am Main and Perugia (Italy), Kiemer and Hoppstädter examined the effects of curcumin on cell cultures. This is obtained from turmeric (also called yellow ginger, saffron root or turmeric), which should be known to most people as the main component of curry powder. In the past, the spice has often been attributed to positive health effects. "Various studies have shown that the curcumin ingredient turmeric, which is responsible for the typical yellow curry color, has a healing effect," according to the Saarland University.
Curcumin affects an anti-inflammatory protein
In their study, the scientists now investigated what the anti-inflammatory effects of the spice could be based on. Similar to cortisone, curcumin influences a certain protein ("gilz"), which plays a key role in inflammation in the human body, the university said. "Gilz" stands for "glucocorticoid-induced leucine zipper", explains Prof. Kiemer. The gilz protein typically disappears in inflammatory processes, but is increasingly produced by curcumin.
Cortisone works the same way
According to the researchers, the Gilz protein plays a central role in the human immune system and especially in inflammatory processes. The protein usually prevents inflammatory reactions. In the case of inflammation, however, this protein disappears, according to Prof. "In the event of inflammation, the immune cells break down the molecule," adds Dr. Hoppstädter, first author of the current study. Treatment with cortisone, among other things, induces an increased formation of the protein, which leads to the resolution of the inflammation. However, the preparations cause changes in the cell in many respects and have not insignificant side effects, the researchers explain.
Targeted anti-inflammatory effects of curcumin
According to the scientists, the curry ingredient curcumin has a cortisone-like effect without negatively influencing the cell processes that are typically associated with cortisone side effects. “We were able to demonstrate that curcumin not only has a non-specific effect, but also has a targeted anti-inflammatory effect. On the basis of test series in cell models, we can prove that the spice like cortisone specifically influences the protein gilz, according to Prof. Kurkumin that gilz is also specifically induced, “but with a completely different mechanism than cortisone,” adds Hoppstädter.
Hope for new drugs
However, the research result does not mean that simple curry powder can cure inflammation, the researchers emphasize. Such concentrations of curcumin, as in the experiments, cannot be achieved by consumption, said Hoppstädter. In addition, curcumin is poorly water-soluble and is therefore poorly absorbed by the body. "This is basic research, but this could be the basis for the future development of drugs that have no or fewer side effects than cortisone," explains Professor Kiemer. The researchers hope that the findings could help to develop new, effective drugs for chronic inflammatory diseases such as Crohn's disease in the future. (fp)