Turmeric powder, a bright yellow spice from the rhizome of the Curcuma longa plant, has again attracted the Indian scientists, but this time with its new beneficial side. The Indian scientists in their latest research report shows that curcumin blocks a key biological pathway which induces the development of diabetic retinopathy, an eye complication among diabetics that leads to blindness if left untreated.
Turmeric is a major part of Indian spice and herbal medicine from thousand of years. It is used in variety of food items and also in medicines in different parts of the world. World literature has long lived with the anti-cancer actions of Curcumin and its ability to cure many diseases like Alzheimer's disease and haemorrhagic stroke. But for the first time any scientists have shown any relation between diabetic retinopathy and curcumin.
Madras Diabetes Research Foundation (MDRF), Chennai behind the ground breaking research organizes a study which shows the prevalence of diabetic retinopathy in Indians much lower than that of the Europeans. They say that this report attracted them to doubt about the Indian diet specially turmeric.
"Our guess was that curcumin which shows anti-angiogenic effects against various cancers may also inhibit the growth of new blood vessels in the retina and thereby prevent diabetic retinopathy. And we thought to work on this specific Indian spice. After the research work we found that curcumin inhibits the migration of cells thereby blocking a key step that leads to retinopathy", says Muthuswamy Balasubramanyam, cell biologist and assistant director of MDRF who is one of the authors of the paper describing the study.
Diabetic retinopathy results when the so called "endothelial cells" that line the inside of retinal blood vessels proliferate and migrate away from the parent vessels to form a network of new fragile micro capillaries which bleed, resulting in sudden and total loss of vision.