Dear Hipsters, Stop Wasting Your Time And Money On Turmeric
Turmeric – if you haven’t heard of it ask the cool kids at work.
That’s because the ginger-like plant has risen to prominence, first with traditionalists and now with hipsters, for what many claims are a number of health benefits.
Native to southern Asia, locals in India are known to apply it to fresh wounds, chickenpox scabs, and insect bites. Below from QZ:
Medical professionals prescribe it for urological diseases, worm infections, and even cancer. Such has been the hype that the yellow-golden spice is widely touted as a validation of traditional medicine.
The magic component is a chemical called curcumin, and it is here that scientists have decided to draw a line in the sand. Despite numerous efforts to harness the power of curcumin in a drug that could benefit users, all trials have failed.
Things are about to get a little technical here, so take a decent gulp of your coffee and put on your thinking cap:
Most drugs are screened based on their ability to interact with certain proteins. It turns out curcumin’s chemical structure makes it produce “false hits”—that is, even though the compound doesn’t interact with the protein, the results of studies show that it does. Such false hits are then taken to clinical trials, where, after spending huge amounts of money, it eventually fails.
Inside the body, curcumin breaks down into chemicals which have different properties. Sometimes it is contaminated with other compounds that have their own biological activity, which gets falsely ascribed to curcumin. It even becomes fluorescent when ultraviolet light is shone on it, which fools a common scientific technique used to detect if a chemical is interacting with a specific protein.
“Much effort and funding has been wasted on curcumin research,” Gunda Georg, co-editor-in-chief of the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, which published the review, told Nature. At least 15 studies on curcumin have been retracted from scientific literature, and dozens more have had corrections appended to them.
OK so it’s a crafty little plant, but what does that mean for the soothing effect it often has for those that use it?
The effects that turmeric may have on, say, a sore throat, could simply be placebo effects. That is to say, the act of going into self-care mode and drinking a hot, comforting drink is what results in healing rather than any direct effect of the turmeric.
And there you sit, hipster who swears by the stuff, wondering where to from here.
I guess if it works for you, placebo effect or not, then you shouldn’t be all that fussed.
Use the info above, don’t use the info above – your call.
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