The health benefits that come from consuming turmeric have been known for many years. Turmeric has anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties, is an anti-oxidant, and is believed to help prevent cancer. The root of the plant has been used in India for thousands of years as a flavoring and for its medicinal properties.
Researchers at Washington State University have now discovered that turmeric has another important use, or at least one of the active compounds in the rhizome of a plant – curcumin. Curcumin is known to have many beneficial properties, but consuming the substance is not the best way to get those benefits. Curcumin is not easily absorbed and can be broken down and excreted. However, its health benefits can be harnessed in another way.
The researchers 3D printed a ceramic scaffold for use in the regeneration of bone tissue. The team used a bio-compatible scaffold seeded with cells which fuse together to form new bone tissue. The team coated the scaffold with curcumin and used PCL, PEG and PLGA as the polymeric system to enable continuous release of curcumin from the hydroxyapatite matrix. Coating the scaffold with curcumin resulted in an increase in bone growth of between 29.6% and 44.9%.
“Results show that local release of curcumin can be designed for both load bearing or non-load bearing implants with the aid of polymers, which can be considered an excellent candidate for wound healing and tissue regeneration applications in bone tissue engineering,” wrote the researchers in the paper.
The team is also looking at other natural compounds known to have anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties such as aloe vera, vitamin D, garlic, ginger, and saffron to determine which compounds have the best anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties, and which have the greatest positive effect on bone growth.
The research is detailed in the paper – Effects of PCL, PEG and PLGA polymers on curcumin release from calcium phosphate matrix for in vitro and in vivo bone regeneration – recently published in the journal, Materials Today Chemistry.