Curcumin, the chemical in turmeric that gives the root its distinctive yellow color and powerful flavor, also boasts tons of health benefits. Since the early 1990's, scientists have discovered a slew of positive reactions from this spice, but does it really offer any specific therapeutic results?

“Curcumin is a cautionary tale,” Michael Walters, lead author of a new review on turmeric, told Nature.

The report from Walters was just published in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry and has found that curcumin has little to no therapeutic benefit. Previous studies have linked the root to helping your brain repair damaged brain cells, treat drug-resistant tuberculosis, and more.

Read: Turmeric Helps Your Brain Heal Itself: Spice Up Your Brain Power With Curry

Scientific investigators are currently carrying out or have already tested over 120 clinical trials on the effects of curcumin, Medical Xpress reported. So, what can we actually believe about these reported health benefits, and what is just myth?

For thousands of years, turmeric has been used to treat arthritis, stomach problems, and other health issues in traditional medicine. In 2014, curcumin was shown to reduce post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms, and another study found that curcumin also had potential to shrink cancer tumors or slow their growth, Medical Daily previously reported.

According to the American Cancer Society, curcumin has been shown to kill cancer cells, but only in laboratory dishes; results from clinical trials have not yet been published.

Read: Health Benefits Of Curry Powder: Curcumin May Defeat Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis

“It may very well be the case that curcumin or turmeric extracts do have beneficial effects, but getting to the bottom of that is complex and might be impossible,” Bill Zuercher, a chemical biologist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, told Nature.

Source: Nelson KM, Dahlin JL, Bisson J, Graham J, Pauli GF, Walters MA. The Essential Medicinal Chemistry of Curcumin. Journal of Medicinal Chemistry. 2017.

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