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Turmeric for tummies?

Canadian researchers are conducting what they hope will be a definitive review of clinical trials involving turmeric and various digestive disorders.

Nutrition industry legend Terry Lemerond called it “the single most helpful natural ingredient you can take for almost every disease or illness,” but how helpful is curcumin for digestive disorders? A team of Canadian researchers are hoping to find out.

Scientists at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto are reviewing studies on turmeric and its compounds (including curcumin) for a meta-analysis that should offer an overall conclusion as to whether the ingredient is helpful to people suffering from digestive disorders like peptic ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, indigestion, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and gastroesophageal gut syndrome. Thus far, science supporting the root’s power over digestive disorders is inconclusive, according to

Preclinical studies suggest a role for turmeric in protecting the gastrointestinal system from inflammation while also encouraging the secretion of important acids and digestive enzymes. Results from disease-specific studies vary. Past studies support turmeric for ulcerative colitis and indigestion, but trials on irritable bowel syndrome haven’t always been successful.

“[I]f the gastro-protective effect of turmeric is confirmed, turmeric and its compounds should be considered as a promising alternative for patients who suffer from digestive disorders because it is safe, inexpensive, and ubiquitously available,” wrote the researchers, led by Kednapa Thavorn. “In contrast, if gastro-protective effects of turmeric cannot be established, this evidence would be useful in enhancing the patients’ understanding of the limitations of this commonly used therapy. Thus, it could guard them against the false claims and advertisements of turmeric product manufacturers.”

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