Turmeric is well known for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It’s one of the natural elements that are traditionally used to treat different ailments, from wounds to pain relief. It’s also often used as an antacid in India. Now, a new study found that curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, might be effective in reducing stomach acid and treating indigestion.
The study, conducted by researchers at Chulalongkorn University Faculty of Medicine, Bangkok, found that curcumin could be as effective as omeprazole— a drug used to reduce excess stomach acid in people diagnosed with dyspepsia or indigestion, according to a press release by BMJ.
Omeprazole is a proton pump inhibitor, or PPI for short. PPIs are used to treat functional dyspepsia, which refers to feelings of being excessively full after food, feeling full after eating little food, and pain and/or burning sensation in the stomach, the statement explains. However, long-term use of PPIs has been associated with increased fracture risk, micronutrient deficiencies, and an increased risk of infections.
In contrast, the findings of the study showed that curcumin is safe and effective. Although curcumin and omeprazole are equally effective at reducing dyspepsia, the combination offers no added benefit. The study was published in BMJ Evidence-Based Medicine.
“Individuals with functional dyspepsia, especially those with excessive gas, are considered [to be of] ‘insufficient wind constitution’ that could be corrected by some herbs with ‘hot flavour’ such as turmeric,” explained Krit Pongpirul, the study’s corresponding author, as reported by Medical News Today.
Curcumin is also known for its antiviral properties. Previously, a 2020 study, published in the Journal of General Virology, showed that curcumin can eliminate certain viruses and prevent transmissible gastroenteritis virus (TGEV), an alpha-group coronavirus that infects pigs from infecting cells, as reported by Science Daily.
The natural compound has also been shown to inhibit the replication of some types of viruses, including dengue virus, hepatitis B and Zika virus. It also has many biological effects such as anti-tumor, and antibacterial activities. Due to its low side effects, curcumin is often used for research to test it as an alternative to medicine that might come with health risks.