People use curcumin, which is in turmeric, as a spice to flavor food, but there are medical uses of the plant, too, and it has antioxidant properties, according to WebMD. Though it does not have approval as a drug by the Food and Drug Administration, as of 2015, people also use curcumin for its anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.
Studies show that curcumin may help reduce inflammation and may help those who have rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, explains WebMD. In lab tests, curcumin also seems to stop the growth of certain tumors. One study even shows turmeric extract with curcumin could stabilize colorectal cancer, even when other treatments do not work.
Other studies show that curcumin may protect against some types of skin diseases as well as high cholesterol, colitis, stomach ulcers and Alzheimer's disease, states WebMD. There is also an indication that curcumin may help treat scabies, upset stomach, HIV, diabetes, viral infections and uveitis. However, people who have interest in trying curcumin as a medical treatment should remember that these are lab studies, and only preliminary information about the substance is available.
It is possible to take curcumin as a supplement, but people also get it by eating it in food, especially curries, claims WebMD. Though it is safe to take for most people, it may cause diarrhea or upset stomach.