Turmeric is the key spice in all your favorite curry dishes, but did you know it can also be used to treat early glaucoma patients? According to a study published in Scientific Reports, it’s true.

Well, to be specific, a polyphenol extracted from turmeric—curcumin—has nanocarriers that can have neuroprotective qualities against the sight-threatening disease. That’s been known for some time, the researchers say, but delivery has always been a problem due to poor solubility and low bioavailability of the molecule. (Simply sitting down to a delicious Indian meal won’t do the trick.)

However, the London-based authors believe they’ve developed a nanocarrier capable of completing the task. According to the research, the curcumin-loaded nanocarrier significantly protects against cobalt chloride-induced hypoxia and glutamate-induced toxicity in vitro. What that all spells for glaucoma is significantly reduced retinal ganglion cell loss, at least in rat model.

Curcumin works by attenuating pathways implicated in the pathogenesis of disorders such as mitochondrial-mediated oxidative stress, various cellular inflammatory responses, β-amyloid aggregation and consequences of VEGF modulation in anti-angiogenic activity. Researchers speculate that, if successful in additional tests, the formulation studied here may also have potential use in Alzheimer’s disease.

Davis B, Pahlitzsch M, Guo L, et al. Topical curcumin nanocarriers are neuroprotective in eye disease. Scientific Reports. www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-29393-8. July 23, 2018. Accessed August 3, 2018.