Curry Spice Can Help Repair Spine Injuries

Turmeric linked to improvement in spine conditions
Wikimedia/Surya Prakash.S.A.

The seemingly random health properties of foods appear to be endless. While the health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids are myriad, a recent study has shown that a common curry spice can help preserve the ability to walk in the case of spinal cord injuries.

Turmeric, the deep orange-yellow spice that’s common in curries, is a relative of ginger and gives food an earthy, mildly bitter flavor with a mustardy fragrance and a slight pepper kick. It gets its flavor from curcumin, which in conjunction with omega-3 fatty acids, has been linked with brain function and the repairing of spinal cord damage.

"While surgery can relieve the pressure and prevent further injury, it can't repair damage to the cells and nerve fibers," said Dr. Langston Holly, a researcher and professor of neurosurgery at UCLA. "We wanted to explore whether dietary supplementation could help the spinal cord heal itself."

The study was done on rats with a spine disorder that limits the ability to walk. The ones who ate a diet enhanced with omega-3 fatty acids and curcumin had less evidence of damage to the cell membrane than rats on a high saturated fat and sugar diet meant to mimic the standard Western diet.

According to The Huffington Post, a study in 2010 showed that curcumin was actually able to make chemotherapy more effective against tumors in the head and neck.

Even for the healthy-spined among us, the unexpected spice adds a ton of flavor and color. So take a look through our best turmeric recipes; you can never be too safe.