A derivative of the turmeric could be used in eye drops to treat the early stages of glaucoma, finds a new study led by University College London (UCL) and Imperial College London, United Kingdom (UK), researchers.
In the new Scientific Reports paper, the researchers report a new method to deliver curcumin, extracted from the yellow spice turmeric, directly to the back of the eye using eye drops, overcoming the challenge of curcumin’s poor solubility.
The research team found the eye drops can reduce the loss of retinal cells in rats, which is known to be an early sign of glaucoma.
They are also investigating how the eye drops could be used as a diagnostic tool for a range of conditions.
“Curcumin is an exciting compound that has shown promise at detecting and treating the neuro-degeneration implicated in numerous eye and brain conditions from glaucoma to Alzheimer’s disease, so being able to administer it easily in eye drops may end up helping millions of people,” said the study’s lead author, Professor Francesca Cordeiro (UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, Western Eye Hospital and Imperial College London).
Glaucoma is a group of eye conditions affecting over 60 million people worldwide that leads to irreversible blindness in one in 10 cases.
The condition mainly involves the loss of retinal ganglion cells, a type of neuron located near the surface of the retina.
Stopping the loss of these cells early on has not yet been achieved, so it is a key focus of glaucoma research.
Curcumin has previously been shown to protect retinal ganglion cells when administered orally.
For the current study, the researchers were seeking to find a more reliable method to deliver curcumin.
Oral administration is difficult because curcumin has poor solubility, so it does not easily dissolve and get absorbed into the bloodstream, and would require people to take large amounts of tablets (up to 24 a day) that may cause gastrointestinal side effects.
Professor Cordeiro added: “As we live longer, diseases such as glaucoma and Alzheimer’s are steadily increasing.
We believe our findings could make a major contribution at helping the lives of people affected by these devastating diseases.”
Also, boswellic acid and turmeric chemical- curcumin have been used on their own as natural treatments for various ailments.
An Armenian study showed that the two natural medicines have excellent synergy – their combination can relieve the painful symptoms of osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis weakens the cartilage and bones in the joints of aging people.
The degenerative disease makes standing, walking, and other weight-bearing activities very difficult and painful for patients.
The pain and swelling can be mitigated by analgesics, cortisone, and Non Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs).
However, these pharmaceutical drugs have numerous negative side effects and might even be contraindicated for certain patients.
They also do not stop the degenerative processes that undermine the joints in the first place.