A spinal cord injury most often begins with a sudden, traumatic blow to the spine that fractures or dislocates vertebrae. Displaced bone fragments, disc material or ligaments can bruise or tear into spinal cord tissue. A spinal cord injury can cause fractures and compression of the vertebrae, which can crush and destroy the nerve cells that carry signals up and down the spinal cord, between the brain and the rest of the body.
Spinal cord injuries can have devastating and often irreversible effects, but a new study published in Neurology Research International suggests that turmeric may be the key to a safe and effective approach to recovery.
The Health Benefits of Curcumin
The active ingredient in turmeric, curcumin, has been studied in-depth for its many health benefits. It has powerful anti-inflammatory effects on the body. So powerful, in fact, that it has been found in some studies to be more effective than some anti-inflammatory drugs. It blocks a molecule known as NF-kB that is believed to play a major role in many chronic diseases.
Curcumin is also a potent antioxidant that has the ability to neutralize free radicals in the body that can cause damage. Curcumin also boosts the activity of the body’s own antioxidant enzymes, doubling its fight against free radicals. It directly blocks free radicals from damaging cells, while stimulating the body’s own antioxidant mechanisms to boost immunity.
Curcumin has been linked to improved brain function, a lower risk of brain diseases and heart disease, and is thought to aid in the prevention and treatment of cancer. Curcumin is also known as an effective natural arthritis remedy and may even be beneficial in treating depression.
Curcumin and Spinal Cord Injury
Those who are familiar with the amazing health benefits of turmeric and curcumin probably won’t be surprised to learn that recent research suggests that turmeric may heal spinal cord injuries better than drugs or even surgery.
A study titled “The Potential of Curcumin in Treatment of Spinal Cord Injury,” reviewed all of the available data on curcumin’s effects on spinal cord injury to get a clearer view of its value in relation to standard therapies. The study points out curcumin’s potential to supersede that of corticosteriods when it comes to reducing harmful inflammation in spinal cord injury patients. According to the study, “Because all studies that compare the two show superior results for curcumin over corticosteriouds, it could be true that curcumin better acts at the inflammatory source of SCI-mediated neurological injury, although this question remains unanswered in patients.”
Clinical research on spinal cord injury patients has not included curcumin thus far, perhaps because curcumin is not patentable. In the closing portion of the study, researchers pose an important question: Can clinicians shed the “herbal medicine” stigma and be able to acknowledge that ignoring its beneficial effects is largely due to a lack of clinical data and not necessarily a result of inferior clinical efficacy?