Hepatoprotective Curcumin prevents carbon tetrachloride-induced liver injury both in vivo and in vitro (Deshpande et al 1998, Kang et al 2002), reverses aflatoxin-induced liver damage in experimental animals (Soni et al 1992) and effectively suppresses the hepatic microvascular inflammatory response to lipopolysaccharides in vivo (Lukita-Atmadja et al 2002). An ethanol soluble fraction of turmeric was shown to contain three antioxidant compounds, curcumin, demethoxycurcumin and bisdemethoxycurcumin, which exert similar hepatoprotective activity to silybin and silychristin in vitro (Song et al 2001).
Several different mechanisms may contribute to turmeric's hepatoprotective activity. Curcumin has been shown to prevent lipoperoxidation of subcellular membranes in a dosage-dependent manner, due to an antioxidant mechanism (Quiles et al 1998) and turmeric may also protect the liver via inhibition of NF-kappa-B (see above), which has been implicated in the pathogenesis of alcoholic liver disease. Curcumin also blocked endotoxin-mediated activation of NF-kappa-B and suppressed the expression of cytokines, chemokines, COX-2, and iNOS in Kupffer cells (Nanji et al 2003).
Cholagogue and hypolipidaemic Turmeric extract or curcumin extract has shown dose-dependent hypolipidaemic activity in vivo (Asai & Miyazawa 2001, Babu & Srinivasan 1997, Keshavarz 1976, Ramirez-Tortosa et al 1999, Soudamini et al 1992). One in vivo study suggests that curcumin may stimulate the conversion of
cholesterol Into bile acids, and therefore, increase the excretion of cholesterol (Srinivasan & Sambaiah 1991). A further study demonstrated that supplementation with turmeric reduces fatty streak development and oxidative stress (Quiles et al 2002). Oral curcumin has also been shown to stimulate contraction of the gall bladder and promote the flow of bile in healthy subjects (Rasyid & Lelo 1999). Antispasmodic Curcuminoids exhibit smooth muscle relaxant activity possibly mediated through calcium-channel blockade, although additional mechanisms cannot be ruled out (Gilani et al 2005). Curcuminoids produced antispasmodic effects on isolated guinea pig ileum and rat uterus by receptor-dependent and independent mechanisms (Itthipanichpong et al 2003).
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