Suffering heartburn? The surprising ‘cure’ hiding in your kitchen cupboard | The Sun

TURMERIC is just as good at treating indigestion as conventional medicine, according to a new study.

A compound in the spice, which gives curry its yellow-orange colour, is thought to have anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties.

The research, published online in the journal BMJ Evidence-Based Medicine, found its efficacy was comparable with omeprazole – a drug that reduces the amount of acid the stomach produces.

The findings may justify considering the ingredient being used in clinical practice.

Study author Professor Krit Pongpirul, of Chulalongkorn University Faculty of Medicine in Thailand, said: "Turmeric is derived from the root of the Curcuma longa plant.

"It contains a naturally active compound called curcumin thought to have anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, and has long been used as a medicinal remedy, including for the treatment of indigestion, in South East Asia.


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"But it's not clear how well it compares with conventional drugs for this indication, largely because there have been no head to head studies."

The team studied 206 patients, aged 18 to 70, who suffered with a recurrent upset stomach – known as functional dyspepsia.

They were randomly assigned one of three treatment groups for a period of 28 days:

  • Turmeric – two large 250g capsules of curcumin four times a day, and one small dummy capsule
  • Omeprazole – one small 20mg capsule daily and two large dummy capsules four times a day
  • Turmeric plus omeprazole

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All patients had similar clinical characteristics and indigestion scores, as assessed by the Severity of Dyspepsia Assessment (SODA), at the start of the trial.

They were then reassessed after 28 days, then again after 56 days.

SODA scores indicated "significant" reductions in symptom severity by day 28 for pain and other symptoms for those in the combined, curcumin alone, and omeprazole alone groups, respectively.

These improvements were even stronger after 56 days for pain and other symptoms.

Prof Pongpirul said SODA also captured satisfaction scores, which scarcely changed over time among the curcumin users.

This might possibly be related to its taste or smell, he said.

The expert added: "No serious side effects were reported, although liver function tests indicated some level of deterioration among curcumin users carrying excess weight."

While acknowledging the small size of the study, as well as several other limitations, including the short intervention period and lack of long-term monitoring data, Prof Pongpirul said further larger, long term studies are merited.

He added: "This multi-centre randomised controlled trial provides highly reliable evidence for the treatment of functional dyspepsia.

"The new findings from our study may justify considering curcumin in clinical practice."

It might not mean prescribing curries to treat heartburn – especially the hot kind, which are known to worsen indigestion – but it could see certain medications replaced or supplemented by the spice.

Omeprazole belongs to a group of drugs called proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), which are used to treat functional dyspepsia.


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Symptoms of the condition include feeling excessively full after eating, feeling full up after only a little food, and pain or a burning sensation in the stomach or food pipe.

Long term use of PPIs has been previously linked to an increased risk of broken bones, micronutrient deficiencies, dementia, and infections.

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