The spice turmeric, which is the main ingredient in Indian curry dishes, has demonstrated an ability to help prevent osteoporosis. In the latest of several studies of a beneficial relationship between turmeric and the bone degenerative disease, a team of scientists from the University of Arizona’s College of Medicine report that turmeric can improve bone structure.
Turmeric (Curcuma longa) has been used for about 4,000 years to treat various ailments, including inflammatory conditions and digestive problems. Curcumin, the active substance in turmeric, has potent antioxidant properties which it has shown in numerous animal studies.
The latest study, led by assistant professor Janet Funk, MD, an endocrinologist, used two different extracts of turmeric. One contained 41 percent curcuminoids, polyphenol compounds present in turmeric, and the other, 94 percent. Funk and her team treated three groups of mice that had their ovaries removed (to make them postmenopausal), two treatment groups and one placebo group.
After two months, the team examined bone mineral density using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) and microcomputerized tomography and they found that the turmeric containing 94 percent curcuminoids improved the microstructure of bone, which indicated a reduced risk of fracture.
Two previous studies uncovered similar findings. A Chinese research team used rat models of postmenopausal osteoporosis and found that yifuning (turmeric extract) can help prevent bone loss and strengthen bone quality. In another study, a Korean group discovered that curcumin decreased bone loss and could be helpful in preventing osteoporosis.
The impact of turmeric on bone in humans is not yet known, but this new study indicates that the spice has potential to prevent the degeneration of bone that leads to osteoporosis. Funk noted that while the quality of turmeric supplements may not always be reliable, individuals can increase their intake of turmeric by drinking turmeric tea or enjoying curried foods.
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Wright LE et al. Protection of trabecular bone in ovariectomized rats by turmeric (curcuma longa L) is dependent on extract composition. J Agric Food Chem 2010 Sep 8; 58(17): 9498-504