Turmeric could be as effective as over-the-counter medicine for treating indigestion, according to a new study.
Turmeric, the root of a plant from the ginger family, has long been used in Southeast Asian cooking and for medicinal purposes. It contains an active compound, curcumin, which is thought to treat various gastrointestinal problems. It’s often sold as a powder in capsule form.
The study, published in BMJ Evidence-Based Medicine, is the first to test its effectiveness in treating dyspepsia (indigestion) compared to omeprazole, a common over-the-counter medicine often recommended by physicians. Researchers recruited 206 people from hospitals in Thailand who experienced recurrent indigestion. Aged between 18 to 70, 151 of them completed the study through being randomly assigned to one of three treatment groups for 28 days.
One group took two 250mg capsules of curcumin four times a day, and one small placebo capsule. The second took one 20mg capsule of omeprazole once a day and two large placebo capsules four times a day. The third group took curcumin and omeprazole together.
The researchers found that all symptoms of indigestion improved in all three groups, with no significant differences between them. The authors noted, however, that the study was small and conducted over a short period of time. They stated that larger, more longer term studies, are needed.
The benefits of turmeric
According to a review of the scientific evidence, curcumin’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties mean it can help with all sorts of conditions including arthritis, anxiety, and hyperlipidemia. It can also accelerate muscle recovery after exercise.
The review notes that curcumin is not readily bioavailable on its own. Combining it with black pepper, which contains the active component piperine, has been shown to increase bioavailability by 2000 percent.
Plant-based diets help digestion
While turmeric can help to alleviate indigestion and improve other ailments, many plant-based foods can help to improve digestion overall.
A diet rich in fiber is recommended for better digestion, with good sources dark green vegetables, beans, chia seeds, and whole grains.
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