Anecdotal and scientific evidence suggests curcumin, a compound found in turmeric, promotes health because it lowers inflammation. However, it is not absorbed well by the body. Most curcumin in food or supplements stays in the gastrointestinal tract, and any portion that's absorbed is metabolized quickly.
A new study thinks they've come up with a better and more effective way to deliver curcumin, and in so doing has demonstrated how it works. Curcumin powder was mixed with castor oil and polyethylene glycol, allowing it to dissolve and be more easily absorbed by the gut to enter the bloodstream and tissues.
When this was given to mice who had been injected with an extract that stimulates an immune reaction, a key protein that triggers an immune response was blocked. The mice given plain curcumin, on the other hand, showed the same protein actively triggering an immune response.
The emulsified curcumin also stopped recruitment of macrophages. Inflammation triggered by overactive macrophages has been linked to cardiovascular disease, disorders that accompany obesity, Crohn's disease, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes and lupus-related nephritis.