London: The Indian spice curcumin may slow down the progress of liver disease, a study has shown.
The substance, which gives the spice turmeric its bright yellow colour, has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine to treat a wide range of gastrointestinal disorders.
Previous studies also suggested it has anti-inflammatory properties and works as an antioxidant.
The latest study, published in the journal Gut, looked at damage to the liver caused by progressive inflammatory illnesses, including primary sclerosing cholangitis and primary biliary cirrhosis.
These conditions can be triggered by genetic faults or autoimmune disease, causing the liver`s bile ducts to become inflamed, scarred and blocked.
The damage to the tissues can be irreversible and cause progression to liver cirrhosis, which can be fatal.
Experts from Austria and the US studied tissue and blood samples taken from mice with chronic liver inflammation.
The samples were looked at before and after adding curcumin to their diet for a period of four or eight weeks.
Being fed curcumin led to fewer blockages of the bile duct and less damage to cells in the liver and scarring, the research found. No such effects were seen in mice fed a normal diet, reported telegraph.co.uk.