Feb. 26, 2008 -- Curcumin, an ingredient in the curry spice turmeric, may help prevent heart failure.
That's according to two new studies done on rats, not people.
In both studies, researchers gave curcumin to rats. The rats then got surgery or drugs designed to put them at risk of heart failure.
The rats that got curcumin showed more resistance to heart failure and inflammation than comparison groups of rats that didn't get curcumin.
Also, in one of the studies, the researchers saw signs that curcumin treatment reversed heart enlargement. The other study didn't include that experiment.
Together, the studies suggest that curcumin short-circuited the heart enlargement process, though it's not clear how it did that.
Both studies showed no sign of side effects from curcumin.
The researchers included Tatsuya Morimoto, MD, PhD, of the National Hospital Organization in Kyoto, Japan, and Hong-Liang Li, MD, PhD, of the University of Toronto's cardiology division.
The studies "came to nearly identical conclusions," says an editorial published with the studies in February's edition of The Journal of Clinical Investigation.
But editorialist Jonathan Epstein, MD, cautions against counting on curcumin to prevent heart failure in people, since the findings in rodents may not apply to people.
Epstein works at University of Pennsylvania's cell and developmental biology department, Cardiovascular Institute, and Institute for Regenerative Medicine.