The yellow spice turmeric, that evokes associations with weddings and other auspicious occasions in India, has potent medicinal properties as well, India-American scientist Krishnan Dhandapani and a colleague have found.
The active ingredient in turmeric not only cuts down one's chances of getting cancer and Alzheimer's disease, but may also reduce the size of a haemorrhagic stroke, said Medical College of Georgia (MCG) researchers.
Timing is critical for patients who often don't know they have had a stroke and may not be seen by a physician for several hours.
"Usually, patients can experience other symptoms like seizures, vision or cognitive problems, so they come to the emergency room fairly quickly under most circumstances," said Dhandapani, neuroscientist at the MCG School of Medicine.
"Many patients also arrive due to head trauma and are seen within an hour or so. However, treating these injuries, even after an hour, can be tricky," he added.
Second-year medical student Jay McCracken is working with Dhandapani, using animal models to study its effect on cerebral haemorrhages - bleeding in the brain caused by ruptured vessels - said an Eurekalert report.
Patients with this type of stroke are often treated for symptoms like headache and nausea, but not the stroke itself. Some of them might not be in a condition to undergo surgery for clot removal, said McCracken.
About 17 percent of strokes are haemorrhagic, occurring in people with high blood pressure, according to the American Stroke Association.
"We found that curcumin (turmeric) significantly decreases the size of a blood clot, but we're not sure why it happens," McCracken said. He thinks it may be because it is a potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant.
For the study, he dissolved the yellow powder, which gives turmeric its colour, in corn oil and injected it into the abdomen of an animal model of haemorrhagic stroke three times over three hours. He suspects less may work and is trying to establish the optimal dose and timing.