Although known for promoting health by lowering inflammation, currently available curcumin supplements are not absorbed well by the body.

Most curcumin in food or supplements stays in the gastrointestinal tract, and any portion that is absorbed is metabolised quickly.

"This study suggests that we have identified a better and more effective way to deliver curcumin and know what diseases to use it for so that we can take advantage of its anti-inflammatory power," said lead author of the study Nicholas Young from Ohio State University.

Curcumin powder mixed with castor oil and polyethylene glycol in a process called nano-emulsion, has the best potential against macrophage-associated inflammation, the researchers found in a mice study.

Macrophages are important cells of the immune system.Overactive macrophages have been linked to cardiovascular disease, disorders that accompany obesity, Crohn's disease, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes and lupus-related nephritis.

"We envision that this nutraceutical could be used one day both as a daily supplement to help prevent certain diseases and as a therapeutic drug to help combat the bad inflammation observed in many diseases," Young pointed out.

"The distinction will then be in the amount given - perhaps a low dose for daily prevention and higher doses for disease suppression," Young added. The term nutraceutical refers to foods or nutrients that provide medical or health benefits. The study appeared in the journal PLOS ONE.


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