This article originally appeared on Live in the Now.
Curcumin, a concentrated derivative of the spice turmeric, has been used for thousands of years to treat numerous maladies. Modern science shows our ancestors‘ use of curcumin and turmeric for medical purposes was well founded. Over the last decade, studies have uncovered the spice’s remarkable potential to prevent and heal an extensive range of disorders.
One of the more surprising areas of research, however, is confirming curcumin’s value in oral health. Recent studies have found that curcumin’s anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties fight inflammation, gingivitis and oral cancer quite effectively. And in some cases, more effectively than certain drugs and mouthwashes.
Curcumin and Turmeric May Destroy Oral Cancer Cells
One study suggests turmeric can reverse precancerous changes in the mouth, while several studies indicate it can cause the death of oral cancer cells. More impressively, recent research discovered that nanoparticles loaded with turmeric extract could destroy oral cancer cells that were resistant to chemotherapy.
Turmeric Was More Effective Than Traditional Chemical Mouthwash for Gingivitis
Symptoms of gingivitis include bad breath as well as bleeding, swollen or tender gums. The inflammation is caused by bacterial plaque. If untreated, it can worsen and progress to a very destructive form of gum disease.
In a 2012 study published in the Journal of Indian Society Peridontology, researchers compared the effects of a 0.1 percent turmeric mouthwash with those of a traditional 0.2 percent chlorexidine mouthwash for gingivitis. Although the turmeric solution was half as concentrated as the chlorexidine solution, it outperformed the traditional mouthwash in every area of assessment. The turmeric proved superior in reducing bacterial activity, plaque and gingivitis symptoms.
Dentists recommend chlorexidine for preventing dental plaque because the chemical is considered the gold standard for this condition. Unfortunately, many studies show the drug can cause an array of complications and in rare cases, even trigger anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction. An advantage of using a turmeric mouthwash is that if some were swallowed, it would not produce the detrimental effects linked to an antiseptic like chlorexidine.
A Note of Caution
Turmeric is likely safe for adults when taken in recommended amounts, but may be unsafe for pregnant women. When starting a new dietary supplement, it is best to do so under the guidance of an integrative physician or medical herbalist. Do not take turmeric if you have a bile duct obstruction or gallstones. Stop taking it two weeks before a scheduled surgery.