By Bob Condor

While some mainstream—OK, more than some and less than all—American doctors are still holdouts to the power of nutritional healing, it’s getting harder and harder to hold that hard line.

Case in point: A new study from Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center at Columbia University strongly suggests that turmeric, the spice prevalent in most curries, can prevent type 2 diabetes (formerly called adult-onset diabetes until too many obese teens and pre-teens started developing early symptoms of the degenerative condition). What’s more, the Columbia researchers said turmeric might well protect against obesity too.

That’s Columbia, as in Ivy League. The study, which will appear in the July issue of Endocrinology, was funded in part by the Child Health and Human Development branch of the federal government’s National Institutes of Health. Those are mainstream props with a capital M.

Natural-foodie types, of course, know that Asian and European researchers have long suggested that turmeric can reduce inflammation, heal wounds and kill pain. Dr. Drew Tortoriello, a diabetes specialist at Columbia and decidedly not a nutritional healing holdout, took the next logical step. He wondered if the inflammatory response associated with type 2 diabetes might be quieted by turmeric.

Tortoriello and his Columbia colleague

s used mice and even two different types of diabetic diet regimens to show that turmeric has a preventive effect in developing type 2 diabetes. The researchers said all of the requisite things about needing to test out the results of humans. For one thing, it is not clear how much turmeric, which, has no known toxic dose level—curry lovers, rejoice!—would be needed to be a primary diabetes treatment.

But the Columbia scientists did conclude that the active ingredient in turmeric, curcumin, does in fact reverse inflammation and metabolism disruption associated with both diabetes and obesity. They talked about more studies and possible isolation of curcumin as a natural medication.

OK, good, great. But do we have to wait on more studies for a spice that can’t be overused?

Right, I like mine green, red or yellow, shrimp or fish, brown rice, please.

“Bob Condor is the Daily Health Blogger for Barton Publishing . He is also the Living Well columnist for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer . He covers natural health and quality of life issues and writes regularly for national magazines, including Life, Esquire, Parade, Self, and Outside. He is a former syndicated health columnist for the Chicago Tribune and author of six books, including “The Good Mood Diet” and “Your Prostate Cancer Survivors' Guide.” He lives in the Pacific Northwest with his wife and two 11-year-old kids.”