I’ve seen a lot of posts about Turmeric and the entire topic is very interesting to me. Although I admit to being something of a supplement junkie, I do like to have a good idea about why I’m taking something and whether the basis for taking it is reasonable. So I’ve been working on a “layman’s” review of whatever information I could find about the stuff. So I’ll start out by saying, I’m an MS Fiancé and not a doctor. See your doctor for medical advice, yada, yada, yada.
The first thing I learned about Turmeric is that there’s another related substance called Curcumin. Here’s a link to the University of Maryland Medical Center’s Page on Turmeric
. The site explains that curcumin is the active ingredient in turmeric. This webpage
explains that the average amount of curcumin in turmeric is about 3% meaning, curcumin is considered to be the active ingredient in turmeric. There are a number of diseases that the National Institutes of Health
have considered in review of turmeric and curcumin, however Multiple Sclerosis is not one of them. Rheumatoid arthritis, which is an autoimmune disease, is listed with the possibility that turmeric and curcumin might reduce inflammation.
Given all of this I wanted to first track down why anyone would be chasing down Curcumin for MS. I found the following publication on the Neurology Department at Vanderbilt website:
“Natarajan, C., and Bright, John. J. 2002. Curcumin inhibits experimental allergic encephalomyelitis by blocking IL-12 signaling through Janus kinase-STAT pathway in T lymphocytes. J. Immunol. 169, 6506-6513.” After some searching, I found the entire paper.
This stuff is hard to read, it’s definitely worth the effort though. Here is a summarizing quote from the research:
”In this study, we have examined the effects and mechanism of action of curcumin on the pathogenesis of CNS inflammation and demyelination in EAE. Our results showed that curcumin inhibits CNS demyelination by blocking IL-12 production, IL-12 signaling, and differentiation of neural Ag-specific Th1 cells in EAE and suggest its use in the treatment of MS and other Th1 cell-mediated inflammatory diseases.”
There’s a lot of research out there on curcumin some of it tangentially related to MS topics. Here’s a site
that has summarized info a number of research topics that have been explored in connection with curcumin. The flip side to all of this is that for scientific purposes curcumin’s benefit in EAE does not immediately mean that the same benefit exists for those with MS. It’s also not entirely clear that the blocking of IL-12 is the source of the benefit. In subsequent research that was published
in 2003, IL-12 deficient mice were able to develop EAE.
” In summary, we report the unexpected finding of severe EAE in the absence of IL-12R 2. The mechanisms for this observation include increased production of proinflammatory molecules (such as TNF- , GM-CSF, IL-17, and NO), elevated IL-18/IL-18R interaction, and perhaps increased production of IL-23. The demonstration that the absence of IL-12R 2 can enhance the severity of EAE should further encourage the study of the IL-12/IL-23 system in experimental and human autoimmunity.”
Research still continues on IL-12, which suggests to me that it’s easy to observe the state at the beginning of a study and the state that the end of the study, while not knowing for sure what it was that actually happened. In 2005, IL-12 suppression
is still being considered as a treatment for MS. IL-23 is “new” and related to IL-12. Here’s a quote from an abstract
that might help put a current perspective this topic:
“Many inhibitors of NF- B and of IL-12 signal transduction have been proven effective in limiting or preventing disease in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) models of MS. The sharing of the p40 subunit, the IL-12R 1 and components of the signal transduction pathways between IL-12 and IL-23 raises the question as to whether the beneficial effects of various drugs previously ascribed to inhibition of IL-12 may, in fact, have been due to concurrent blockage of both cytokines, or of IL-23, rather than IL-12.”
It seems to me that there must be some benefit, it’s just that no one has exactly pinpointed what it is so it can be reported to the world. One thing I have noticed while clicking my way through documents is a clear absence of anything that said not to take curcumin or that it is bad for you. The University of Maryland site (above) notes few side effects or warnings for curcumin, but nothing that tells me that it’s bad for the average person to take curcumin. The site also lists a recommended dosage of 400 to 600 mg, three times a day. I think there is little to lose and the potential for gain in taking this stuff.
In any case, I’m just one person with an opinion. Please reply to this post if you think I should add more information and/or links. Let me know what you think. napay
Other similar posts on my road to understanding MS:
Understanding MS 101: Doctor Talk and People Talk
A Layman’s Review of Glyconutrients – not good
Turmeric, Curcumin and IL-12 - good
C is for Controversy – good