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ACS News Service Weekly PressPac: Wed Nov 04 15:42:03 EST 2009

Curry-cure? Spicing up the effectiveness of a potential disease-fighter

Scientists are reporting development of a nano-size capsule that boosts the body’s uptake of curcumin, an ingredient in yellow curry now being evaluated in clinical trials for treatment of several diseases. Their study is in ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, a bi-weekly publication: “Evaluation of an Oral Carrier System in Rats: Bioavailability and Antioxidant Properties of Liposome-Encapsulated Curcumin”.

Koji Wada and colleagues note that curcumin is a potent antioxidant found in the spice, turmeric. Clinical trials are checking its safety and effectiveness for colon cancer, psoriasis, and Alzheimer’s disease. However, digestive juice in the gastrointestinal tract quickly destroys curcumin so that little actually gets into the blood.

Scientists have known for years that encapsulating insulin and certain other drugs into structures called liposomes can boost absorption. The scientists prepared the liposomes encapsulating curcumin and fed them to laboratory rats. Encapsulating more than quadrupled absorption of curcumin, and also boosted antioxidant levels in the blood. The encapsulating process could be an answer to the problem of increasing curcumin’s absorption in the digestive environment of the gastrointestinal tract, they suggest.


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Yellow curry contains curcumin, a promising
disease-fighter. Scientists developed
nano-sized capsules containing the curry
ingredient in an effort to improve its
absorption and effectiveness in the body.
Credit: Wikimedia Commons
(High-resolution version)