Curcumin, a key ingredient of the spice, may reduce inflammation, but questions remain about its usefulness for MS.
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Variety may be the spice of life, but is turmeric the spice for people with multiple sclerosis (MS)?
More and more people with MS are using complementary and alternative approaches like herbs and supplements to augment prescription medication treatments for symptoms like pain, spasticity, memory loss, and fatigue — even though scientific evidence supporting their use is limited. One of the most popular herbal remedies is turmeric, a spice that is used commonly in cooking, particularly in Asian cuisines.
Turmeric has properties similar to ginger, another popular flavoring ingredient.
Although turmeric has been used to treat the symptoms of a variety of health conditions — including everything from Alzheimer’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and prostate and colon cancer to heart disease and type 2 diabetes — its use in MS hasn’t been well studied, at least to date. Still, what’s known about its possible benefits is promising.
“I’m from India originally, and we’ve used turmeric for centuries, both for cooking as well as for medicinal uses,” says Vijayshree Yadav, MD, a neurologist and Tykeson Family Term Professor in wellness research, as well as MS Center director at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland.
“It’s an antioxidant with multiple chemical ingredients, including curcumin, that may have beneficial effects for people with a number of conditions, but there’s still a lot we don’t know,” Dr. Yadav says.