Curry Spice May Fight Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes reduced in prediabetes patients receiving curcumin

(RxWiki News) Losing weight is one of the best ways to prevent diabetes. While eating healthy foods can help you lose weight, certain foods may have the power to actively stop diabetes in its tracks.

Curcumin (a compound found in the Indian spice turmeric) may prevent the development of type 2 diabetes in people with pre-diabetes, a condition in which blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes.

"Eat a healthy diet to lower your risk of diabetes."

Other studies have shown that curcumin may have properties that fight inflammation, a key characteristic of diabetes.

Somlak Chuengsamarn, MD, of Srinakharinwirot University in Thailand, and colleagues wanted to see if curcumin could delay type 2 diabetes in a population already at a high risk for developing diabetes.

A total of 240 people with pre-diabetes were assigned to take either curcumin or placebo.

After 9 months of treatment, no patients taking curcumin developed type 2 diabetes. In contrast, 16.4 percent of patients in the placebo group were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

In addition, patients treated with curcumin had better overall function of beta cells - the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels.

In diabetes, blood sugar levels rise because the body either is unresponsive to insulin or does not produce enough insulin. Beta cell function can play a large role in both the prevention and development of diabetes.

Dr. Chuengsamarn and colleagues also found that patients treated with curcumin had lower levels of insulin resistance and higher levels of adiponectin (a hormone that suppresses metabolic problems associated with diabetes), compared to those treated with placebo.

More specifically, the study's results showed that patients treated with curcumin had:

  • a higher HOMA-β (a measure of beta cell function) than patients treated with placebo (61.58 vs. 48.72)
  • patients treated with curcumin had lower levels of C-peptide (a measure of insulin levels) than placebo-treated patients (1.7 vs. 2.17)
  • patients treated with curcumin had lower levels of HOMA-IR (a measure of insulin resistance) than placebo treated patients (3.22 vs. 4.04)
  • patients treated with curcumin had adiponectin levels of 22.46, while placebo-treated patients had adiponectin levels of 18.45

"A 9-month curcumin intervention of a pre-diabetes population significantly lowered the number of pre-diabetic individuals who eventually developed type 2 diabetes," the authors said.

"Therefore, this study demonstrated that the curcumin intervention in a pre-diabetes population may be beneficial," they concluded.

While these findings suggest that curcumin may delay or prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes, more research is needed. At-risk patients should still focus on weight loss through diet and exercise to prevent diabetes.

The study was published July 6 in Diabetes Care, a journal of the American Diabetes Association.

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Review Date: 
August 1, 2012