Medical specialists say further trials are needed to fully assess a finding that the spice turmeric could help people with inflammatory bowel disease.
Researchers working for a group known as Nutrigenomics New Zealand say the chemical compound curcumin found in turmeric has been shown to reduce inflammation in mice that carry a particular genetic variation, and should also work in some people.
The study, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, suggests adding the spice to the diet may reduce inflammation in the gut.
Inflammatory bowel diseases, such as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, affect up to 10,000 New Zealanders, causing cramps, bleeding and other symptoms.
Bowel disease specialist, Richard Gearry, who lectures in medicine at the University of Otago in Christchurch says the findings are positive, but preliminary, and the effect on people needs to be studied before the use of the spice can be advocated.