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Curcuma, a possible hepato-protecting supplement for TB patients

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Jakarta, IO – In terms of healing herbs, Korea and China are famous worldwide for having ginseng. On the other hand, Indonesia has herbs like the temulawak (Curcuma zanthorrhiza), ginger, cloves, and turmeric. Our people have proven their efficacy for solving all sorts of health issues for centuries, since the days of our ancestors. 

During his opening of the Health Innovation and Technology in Health Transformation Exhibition in Jakarta, 9-11 November, our Minister of Health Budi Gunadi Sadikin declared that Indonesia will continue to develop temulawak as a specialized endemic medical plant, with the expectation that temulawak-based medicines will be created as the end products. “We hope that in time, temulawak will have an international reputation that can rival that of ginseng. Researching this plant in order for us to be able to extract its benefts optimally will take a long time and a lot of effort. We also need the help of the pharmaceutical industry to package and promote temulawak as an effective medicine,” he said. 

Temulawak contains curcumin, which generates a hepato-protective effect that helps prevent damage to the liver which may be a negative side-effect afflicting tuberculosis (TBC or TB) patients. “TB is a highly infectious disease, caused by bacterial infection. It generally attacks the lungs, but it may also attack the kidney, spine and the brain. According to 2022 WHO data, 1.3 million people have died from this disease over the year, worldwide. Furthermore, the latest Global TB Report (2022) shows that there are an estimated total of 969,000 cases in Indonesia. That’s almost one million people! Which is a sad thing, as even though it is a frequently fatal disease, it is entirely curable and preventable,” reported dr. Fanny Fachrucha, Sp.P, pulmonologist from Persahabatan Central General Hospital, Jakarta, in the “The Journey of Temulawak (Curcuma zanthorrhiza) in Keeping the Nation Healthy: From Seed to Cure for the Patient” talk show organized by Soho Global Health, Thursday (9/11/2023). 

She went on to remind all that TB medication can have side effects on patients, especially in terms of liver function degradation, as it must be consumed routinely and consistently every day for at least six consecutive months. “We can consider prescribing temulawak as supplemental therapy for hepato-protection, or protecting the liver from damage caused by constant consumption of the medication. I will remind you that three out of the four drugs in the combination for TB medication cause side-effects, with potential liver function impairment: Isoniazid, Rifampicin and Pyrazinamide.

Again I reiterate: 10%- 20% of TB patients suffer from hepatotoxicity, or poisoned livers, because of their medications. Temulawak has a 2.6%-13.6% curcumin content. As we know, this substance has the hepato-protector function that prevents liver damage, whether in an early or late stage. Supplements that contain curcumin can be administered to high-risk patients, such as elderly patients or patients with liver function comorbidity. However, once again, TB medication must be consumed properly, in order to kill the bacteria thoroughly,” she said. 

Meanwhile, dr. Inggrid Tania, MSi, General Chairwoman of the Indonesian Traditional Medicine and Herbal Cure Development Doctors’ Association (PDPOTJI), declared that temulawak’s many efficacies include maintenance of liver function, improvement of digestive and immunity functions, and improvement of appetite. “Temulawak can be used to improve children’s appetite, because its contents help digestion and absorption of fats in the intestines. It is choleretic, which means that it accelerates the secretions of bile from the gallbladder. This optimizes the work of the digestive enzymes, which in turn empties the stomach faster. It also releases various hormones, which further increases appetite in turn.” 

Read: Our Lungs Only Need Clean Air

During the same event, Dr. Ir. Raphael Aswin Susilowidodo, MSi, Vice President R&D Regulatory and Medical Affairs Soho Global Health, declares that the huge benefit of temulawak for health encourages the industry to research and develop products derived from it. “We have performed research to develop temulawak and ensure that the plants that we plant satisfy the strict standards required for extraction and medication. Good products strongly depend on good quality, standardized ingredients, which is why we start our research and development even before planting the seeds of the plant,” he declared. (est)

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