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Study: Turmeric Spice Kills Viruses

Monday, 20 August 2012 03:21 PM

The popular spice turmeric, which gives curry dishes their powerful kick and color, has shown promise in fighting devastating viruses, new research has found.
Scientists with George Mason University's National Center for Biodefense and Infectious Diseases have discovered curcumin, found in turmeric, was able to stop the potentially deadly Rift Valley Fever virus from multiplying in infected cells.
The study, published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, was led by Aarthi Narayanan, a Mason research assistant professor and a native of India, where traditional healing practices use turmeric for a variety of conditions. Now, Narayanan is subjecting the spice compound to Western scientific research to uncover the mechanisms behind its healing properties for possible use in new treatments.
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"Growing up in India, I was given turmeric all the time," said Narayanan, who has spent the past 18 months working on the project. "Every time my son has a throat infection, I give [turmeric] to him."
She added that her research on curcumin’s effects on Rift Valley Fever virus (RVF) – which strikes humans as well as domestic animals, cattle, sheep and goats – found the compound interferes with how the virus manipulates living cells to stop them from responding to the infection.
The finding could lead to new treatments and points the way to other uses of curcumin to target viral infections and other diseases.
Narayanan said she now plans to test 10 different versions of curcumin to determine which one works the best against a variety of viruses, including HIV.
Eventually, she said, curcumin could be part of drug therapies used to defeat viruses.
"I know this works. I know it works because I have seen it happen in real life," Narayanan said. "I eat it every day. I make it a point of adding it to vegetables I cook. Every single day."
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The popular spice turmeric has shown promise in fighting devastating viruses.
Monday, 20 August 2012 03:21 PM
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