Thursday, June 09, 2005

[Health] The Powers of Haldi

The Humble Turmeric (or Indian "Haldi")

For years when I was young, ever since I can remember, my mother used to mix Haldi powder (Turmeric) with my milk and was forced to drink the strange tasting mixture. It left an ugly yellowish discoloration, much to my disgust, on my tongue which would not go away even after a couple of gargles. The only reason given to me was that it is good for you!

Turmeric is a popular element of Indian cooking all over, and now its panacea like versatile properties are being wowed over by scientists.

Its ability to heal wounds has always been a part of an Indian household in India it is sprinkled in case of burns or wounds as a stand by until professional help arrives, and since it is always handy and ready ingredient in any household.)

Recent scientific studies show that it could be useful in
1) Multiple Sclerosis
2) Fighting illnesses like cancer
3) Colitis
4) Alzheimer's

Interest in Haldi's neuroprotective abilities arose after scientists found out that elderly Indian people had a very low level of brain disease as compared to the western counterparts.

Early this month (June 2002) scientists at the Japanese Hamamatsu School of Medicine announced that turmeric may help to cure colitis (a painful condition of the intestines) since it contains curcumin, a compound which is responsible for its anti inflammatory properties.

A study on mice found that mice fed on a diet of 5% curcumin had a 30% less chance of death due to colitis.

According to lead researcher Chandra Mohan Natrajan (Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee) mice injected with curcumin showed little or no signs of Multiple sclerosis while animals without the treatment suffered paralysis. However, since the studies are preliminary, Multiple Sclerosis should be treated by a doctor's advice only though taking Haldi (turmeric) would not hurt.

The American Association for cancer research in San Francisco, while researching on Prostate cancer cells in California, has found that Curcumin enhances the cancer fighting power due to a naturally occurring molecule in it, TRAIL, which helps kill cancer cells. The combination treatment with curcumin was three times more effective then treatment alone.

With curcumin and TRAIL, the treatment killed 80% of cells in the culture, says Subhash Gautam, a lead researcher at Henry Ford Health System at Detroit, Michigan, which is remarkable.

So our forefathers certainly knew what they were doing!!

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