Curcumin (a constituent of the Indian spice turmeric) is one of my favorite spices, for both cooking and as a supplement. Curcumin is a potent COX-2 inhibitor, which can reduce the pain and inflammation from osteoarthritis. It also demonstrates multiple pathway chemoprotection for prostate cancer (and many other cancers, as well).
Newer studies are looking at curcumin for the prevention of Alzheimer's Disease via its anti-inflammatory action and plaque reduction. Other health benefits include increasing insulin sensitivity (preventing diabetes), liver support and detoxification, and inflammatory bowel issues (Crohn's Disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and others), and in rheumatoid arthritis.
A very recent study demonstrates that curcumin (1000 mg, in a highly bioavailable form) is equally as effective as Prozac (20 mg) in treating major depressive disorder in the absence of suicidality and psychosis. One of the issues with curcumin is low absorption and rapid clearance, so pharmaceutical companies have been looking for more effective delivery systems. One of the common additives to increase absorption is piperine, a black pepper extract that inhibits the enzymes (CYP3A4 and P-glycoprotein) responsible for breaking down curcumin in the gut, increasing bio-availability of curcumin by up to 2000 percent.
In the depression study, each capsule contained 88% total curcuminoids (curcumin, bisdemethoxycurcumin, demethoxycurcumin) and 7% volatile oils from rhizomes of Curcuma longa Linn. The addition of the essential oils seems to increase the availability of the curcuminoids (other models have looked at an oil-based delivery system, among other techniques).
New Research on Curcumin for Oral Health
All of the material above is to suggest that curcumin is a highly versatile and and beneficial supplement for a variety of health issues. The newest of which, to me, is its use for oral health in the form of a mouthwash. Below is the abstract from the source study (which is open access at the link in the title) - below that is a summary article for those who would rather not read the research paper.
Comparative evaluation of 0.1% turmeric mouthwash with 0.2% chlorhexidine gluconate in prevention of plaque and gingivitis: A clinical and microbiological study
Amita M. Mali, Roobal Behal, and Suhit S. Gilda
The aim of our clinical trial was to assess the efficacy of 0.1% turmeric mouthwash as an anti-plaque agent and its effect on gingival inflammation and to compare it with 0.2% chlorhexidine gluconate by evaluating the effect on plaque and gingival inflammation and on microbial load.
Materials and Methods:
60 subjects, 15 years and above, with mild to moderate gingivitis were recruited. Study population was divided into two groups. Group A-30 subjects were advised chlorhexidine gluconate mouthwash. Group B-30 subjects were advised experimental (turmeric) mouthwash. Both the groups were advised to use 10 ml of mouthwash with equal dilution of water for 1 min twice a day 30 min after brushing. Parameters were recorded for plaque and gingival index at day 0, on 14 th day, and 21 st day. Subjective and objective criteria were assessed after 14th day and 21st day. The N-benzoyl-l-arginine-p- nitroanilide (BAPNA) assay was used to analyze trypsin like activity of red complex microorganisms.
On comparison between chlorhexidine and turmeric mouthwash, percentage reduction of the Plaque Index between 0 and 21 st day were 64.207 and 69.072, respectively (P=0.112), percentage reduction of Gingival Index between 0 and 21st day were 61.150 and 62.545 respectively (P=0.595) and percentage reduction of BAPNA values between 0 and 21st day were 42.256 and 48.901 respectively (P=0.142).
Chlorhexidine gluconate as well as turmeric mouthwash can be effectively used as an adjunct to mechanical plaque control in prevention of plaque and gingivitis. Both the mouthwashes have comparable anti-plaque, anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties.
Mali, AM, Behal, R, and Gilda, SS. (2012, Jul-Sep). Comparative evaluation of 0.1% turmeric mouthwash with 0.2% chlorhexidine gluconate in prevention of plaque and gingivitis: A clinical and microbiological study. Journal of Indian Society of Periodontology; 16(3): 386–391. doi: 10.4103/0972-124X.100917
Here is a summary article from Natural Society.
by Elizabeth Renter
September 15th, 2013
The powers of some foods to heal and nourish are so impressive and varied that these foods should be included in our weekly if not daily diets without exception. In recent years, modern science has uncovered so many remarkable qualities in turmeric in particular for the spice’s amazing potential to prevent and heal various health issues. Some research even shows how turmeric can boost oral health greatly, offering support for issues like gingivitis, mouth cancer, and much more.
The health benefits of turmeric are amazing, with several studies connecting turmeric and oral cancer treatment and prevention. One of the more recent studies indicates turmeric can reverse precancerous changes in the mouth. As GreenMedInfo reports, there are also more than a dozen studies linking it to oral cancer cell death. Recently, researchers revealed that nanoparticles loaded with turmeric extract could actually kill oral cancer cells that had proven resistant to chemotherapy treatment.
Though turmeric is most commonly thought of as a curry spice, it’s versatile and can be added to anything from fish and eggs to smoothies and salads. Further research indicates the more time turmeric spends in your mouth, the healthier that mouth might be.
Last year, in the Journal of Indian Society of Periodontology, a study showed that turmeric could be as, if not more, effective as a traditional mouthwash in the treatment of gingivitis.
Gingivitis is a periodontal disease characterized by bad breath, bleeding, and inflamed gums. Left untreated it can lead to more destructive periodontal disease. Generally, mouthwashes using chlorexidine are used to treat this condition. And while complications involving this compound are rare, they can include anaphylactic reactions.
The study had subjects rinse their mouths twice daily with either a 0.1% curcumin (turmeric) extract mouthwash or a traditional mouthwash solution using 0.2% chlorexidine. Despite the chlorexidine solution being twice as concentrated as the turmeric solution, the turmeric solution outperformed the traditional mouthwash in all three measurements. The turmeric reduced plaque, gingivitis symptoms, and bacterial activity at rates greater than the traditional mouthwash.
Despite this, the researchers, “in the characteristically conservative style of academia”, suggested turmeric mouthwash had “comparable anti-plaque, anti-inflammatory, and anti-microbial properties” as the traditional chlorexidine mouthwash.
Although the researchers didn’t come out and say turmeric was more effective than the traditional mouthwash, their numbers spoke for them. Plus, when you consider all of the health benefits of this brightly hued root, the benefits of such a mouthwash could be multiplied when you swallow it after your rinse!