Researchers have discovered that turmeric polysaccharides can alleviate gastric ulcers by protecting the mucus lining of stomach and inhibiting the growth of an ulcer-causing bacterium1. These polysaccharides could potentially be used as therapeutic agents for treating gastric ulcers.

Cellular oxidative stress and Helicobacter pylori infection reduce mucin production and boost acid secretion in the stomach. This increased acid production erodes the mucus lining of the stomach, resulting in gastric ulcers. Existing drugs check acid production and stop bacterial infection, but have harmful side effects.

To develop a better therapy for gastric ulcers, the researchers modified turmeric pectic polysaccharides using alkaline treatment. They then probed the efficacies of the modified polysaccharides to alleviate gastric ulcers in cultured human gastric epithelial cancer cells and rats with gastric ulcers and compared them with those of unmodified pectic polysaccharides.

The modified polysaccharides inhibited the growth of ulcer-causing bacteria more efficiently than the unmodified ones. The modified polysaccharides stopped bacterial growth by preventing bacteria from adhering to and colonizing gastric cells.

In rats with ulcers, the modified polysaccharides reduced the signs of ulcers. The modified polysaccharides also restored the depleted levels of mucin, which protects the stomach lining against gastric acid. The modified polysaccharides increased the levels of free-radical-scavenging enzymes such as catalase, glutathione and superoxide dismutase, which countered the effects of ulcer-causing oxidative stress.

The modified pectic polysaccharides, which possess multifaceted ulcer-prevention activities, may provide a cost-effective therapeutic option for gastric ulcer, the researchers say.