Turmeric relieves symptoms in some cases of inflammatory bowel disease

Auckland 20 April 2009

Genotype dictates reaction to different food components.

Scientists have discovered a component in turmeric which may relieve symptoms in some inflammatory bowel disease sufferers.

Researchers at Nutrigenomics NZ have found that curcumin, the major yellow constituent of turmeric spice, reduces inflammation in model systems of Crohn’s disease. This discovery may assist in the development of diet-based treatments for people suffering from the equivalent genetic form of the disease.

The research also demonstrated that rutin, a component of buckwheat seeds, citrus fruits and tea, also known to relieve symptoms in some Crohn’s disease sufferers, did not have any effect in models of the same genetic disorder.

The results of the study are published in the British Journal of Nutrition.

“Crohn’s disease, a form of inflammatory bowel, can be aggravated or relieved by the sufferer’s diet,” says Christine Butts of Plant & Food Research. “However, due to the number of genes involved, different people with different disease genotypes can be affected by different foods, so there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ solution. Only by systematically linking particular components to effects on the specific genotype can we get a true understanding of the disease and how to treat it.”

“This finding means that some people with Crohn’s disease may benefit from eating turmeric, but this is entirely dependent on their genetic makeup. Others may not get any benefit, or may even have a severe reaction. However, we are one step closer to understanding this disease and how to best control it with diet.”

“In diseases with complex genetics, such as Crohn’s disease, understanding which genetic variants are affected by which food compounds is important in knowing what to avoid in the diet, “ says Kieran Elborough, acting General Manager, Food Innovation at Plant & Food Research. “Using this knowledge, we can develop dietary supplements or foods with added benefits which can help disease sufferers based on their personal genotype.”

Nutrigenomics New Zealand, a collaboration between Plant & Food Research, AgResearch and The University of Auckland, is funded by the Foundation for Research Science and Technology. The primary aim is to develop gene specific foods targeted to preventing, improving and curing diseases.

Contact:
Emma Timewell
Communications Manager, Corporate Communications,
Plant & Food Research Mt Albert,
120 Mt Albert Road, Sandringham
Auckland, 1025, New Zealand
EMail: media@plantandfood.co.nz
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