Turmeric: A Hope for Stroke Patients


[MUSIC PLAYING] LESLIE RITTER; During ischemic
stroke when a blood vessel is blocked, the tissue
downstream of the blockage actually is affected,
causing injury and death to just a portion of the brain. NARRATOR: Leslie Ritter,
Professor at the Arizona Health Sciences Center and Coordinator
for the Stroke Center At University Medical Center,
wants to find better outcomes for stroke patients. She may have an answer in the
spice we know as turmeric. A stroke is the result of
reduced or absence of blood to a portion of the brain. The majority of strokes are
called ischemic strokes, and that happens when a blood
vessel is blocked or plugged. The treatment of choice
is to open the vessel with either a drug,
a clot-busting drug, or some mechanical intervention. NARRATOR: When a vessel
is opened after a stroke, blood sweeps back into the brain
bringing with it white blood cells, or leukocytes, that
adhere to the vessel walls. This results in acute
inflammation or collateral damage to the vessels
and brain tissue. So we look in our
laboratory for ways to reduce this inflammation so
that when we do give blood back to the brain, it’s really
as good as it can be. This is a blood
vessel in the brain. When blood is returned to
the brain after a stroke, the white dots are the white
blood cells, or leukocytes, the inflammatory cells,
and after a stroke, the inflammatory cells adhere
to a significant degree, as opposed to normally. When they adhere, they
have the potential to cause damage in
the brain vessels and to the surrounding
brain tissue. NARRATOR: There are
no drugs to protect the brain from this
increased inflammation. With research funding
from the state of Arizona, Dr. Ritter and UA College of
Medicine endocrinologist Janet Funk have teamed up to see
if a botanical turmeric will target the white blood cells. JANET FUNK: Turmeric is a
spice traditionally used a lot in Indian cooking. But it’s also used traditionally
in Indian medical systems. And it’s used specifically
for inflammatory things. In our arthritis
research, we found out that turmeric
prevented arthritis. So the question is,
what was it doing? But one very important
target that it went after was a really early
part of the whole cascade that leads to inflammation, and
turmeric attacks something early on. NARRATOR: Turmeric may help in
the treatment phase of stroke, but the studies that Dr.
Ritter and Dr. Funk are doing may prove that it has even
more positive benefits. Turmeric, we think, may not
only have beneficial effects during the acute phase of
stroke to reduce inflammation, but we think that
turmeric may be effective in preventing stroke. And we would like to
translate our research into that kind of clinical
study in the future. NARRATOR: If more research
and clinical trials prove that turmeric is effective
in treating inflammation, it will have added
implications for people with chronic inflammation,
such as those with diabetes. The folks that have
diabetes, we think tend to have worse
stroke and worse outcomes and rehabilitation
from stroke because of this chronic
inflammation and then the worsening inflammation
when the stroke occurs. [MUSIC PLAYING]

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