FRIDAY, June 5, 2009 (HealthDay News) -- Modern technology has revealed the ancient secret behind the healing power of turmeric, a spice regarded as "holy powder" in India.
Turmeric has been used for centuries to treat wounds, infections and other ailments. It's long been believed that curcumin -- the main ingredient in turmeric -- is responsible for its healing power, but it hasn't been known how curcumin works inside the body, explained researcher Ayyalusamy Ramamoorthy and colleagues.
They used solid-state NMR spectroscopy to examine molecules of curcumin and found that they act like a "biochemical disciplinarian." The molecules insert themselves into cell membranes and make the membranes more stable and orderly in a way that boosts cells' resistance to infection by disease-causing microbes.
The study was recently published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.
The U.S. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine has more about turmeric.