Curcumin, found in turmeric, has numerous reported health benefits as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. The latest is a reduction of airway inflammation in asthma. Allergic reactions can trigger asthma attacks in many patients. Korean researchers used an animal model of mice sensitized to egg albumin. An aerosol albumin challenge was used to trigger airway hyper-responsiveness, which was analyzed in terms of inflammatory cell number and IgE levels. Curcumin administered at 200 mg/kg body weight significantly reduced signs of developing asthma.
Turmeric is a spice commonly used in Asian dishes, and is also known as Indian saffron. Recipes available on the Internet recommend about a quarter teaspoon per serving for some of the spiciest dishes. A traditional Asian meal may contain several such dishes, for a total turmeric “dose” of one to two teaspoons per day. Turmeric has been used for thousands of years in these quantities with no reported adverse effects.
Earlier studies have demonstrated curcumin's protection from lung injury and fibrosis in animals exposed to radiation, chemotherapeutic drugs, and toxicants. The authors of Reference 2 suggest that curcumin may help protect the lungs from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, acute lung injury, and acute respiratory distress syndrome, as well as allergic asthma.
Curcumin has also been tested on skin allergic reactions in mice. Researchers in Wisconsin showed that curcumin reduced latex allergy reactions. Korean researchers used the spice extract to reduce scratching behavior in mice with passive cutaneous anaphylaxis reactions, which are triggered by antigens.
The mechanism for curcumin's benefits in allergic reactions is believed to be similar to its actions in treating inflammatory conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease. In part, it blocks the action of the cyclooxygenase (COX) enzyme, as aspirin and other NSAIDs do.
Turmeric extracts are widely available in pill or capsule form as dietary supplements, in case you don't like your food quite so spicy.