Sulphur mustard gas is a compound used in warfare. It causes blisters leading to severe burns in eyes, skin and respiratory tract. Acute effects include pruritis or inflammation of the skin. Exposure to large doses could be fatal.
Sulphur mustard comes under Schedule 1 in Chemical Weeapons Convention, as it serves no other purpose than warfare. Immediate effects are not visible, prolonged exposure to high doses lead to toxicity.
This interesting study demonstrates how curcumin can protect against sulphur mustard induced pruritis. This isn’t something you might face in daily life but soldiers at war zone are prone to sulphur mustard induced damage.
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What happened in this study?
In this clinical trial 96 male veterans suffering from chronic sulphur mustard induced pruritis were treated. They were given either 1g of curcumin per day or placebo for 4 weeks.
Concentration of inflammatory chemicals was recorded at the start and end of the trial. Pruritis severity was assessed as per predefined score chart.
What were the results?
Inflammatory chemicals decreased in both groups but the magnitude was greater in curcumin. An inflammatory biomarker, calcitonin gene related peptide decreased only in curcumin group. This biomarker is involved in transmission of pain.
Decrease in inflammatory biomarkers served as a predictor in reduction of pruritis in curcumin group.
How did this occur?
Curcumin is a strong anti-inflammatory agent. It reduces production of inflammatory chemicals and downregulates the activity of genes involved in inflammation.
Researchers state that this mechanism of curcumin could be the possible explanation for reduction of sulphur mustard induced pruritis.
Additionally curcumin also finds its use in treating skin disorders due to its wound healing and skin regenerative properties.
What does this mean?
Oral administration of curcumin aids in reducing skin inflammation caused by exposure to sulphur mustard gas, a warfare agent.
Read paper here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23038702