Los Angeles: Curcumin, a substance in turmeric, may provide lasting protection against potentially deadly lung damage in premature infants, a new study led by an Indian-origin scientist has claimed.
Turmeric, a key ingredient in spicy curry dishes, has long been known to have medicinal values.
Premature infants often need the assistance of ventilators and forced oxygen therapy because they`re frequently born with inadequate lung function. These therapies can cause the infants to suffer lasting lung damage and even death.
Researchers at Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center (LA BioMed), using disease models, found curcumin provided long-term protection against this damage.
The study, published in the American Journal of Physiology, Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology, found curcumin provided protection against bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BDP), a condition characterised by scarring and inflammation, and against hyperoxia, in which too much oxygen enters the body through the lungs, for up to 21 days after birth.
A previous LA BioMed study had found curcumin provided protection for up to seven days after birth.
"This is the first study to find long-term benefits of using curcumin to protect lung function in premature infants," said Virender K Rehan, the LA BioMed lead researcher who authored the study.
"Curcumin is known to have potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties, making it a promising therapy for premature infants who require oxygen therapy after birth," Rehan said.