Earlier studies on curcumin had produced only mixed results, because researchers had used capsules, which were not being properly absorbed by the body.
But when topical gel is used, the results are completely different, says Dr Madalene Heng from the David Geffen School of Medicine. She has monitored the progress of three burns victims who she treated with curcumin gel, and has used it for 25 years in her practise.
Dr Heng says it is effective against burns and scalds, and other skin conditions. This is because it's a powerful anti-inflammatory that inhibits an enzyme called phosphorylase kinase, which is released after a skin injury.
Curcumin is an ingredient in the common spice turmeric, which is often used in curries to give them their yellow colouring.