Turmeric

Turmeric

 

There has been an awakening in The United States lately over this pungent spice. Researchers are reporting that turmeric may prevent and slow the growth of a number of different cancers.Turmeric is a spice grown in India and other Asian tropical areas. It is an essential ingredient in curry dishes. There has been a long history of using this spice in herbal remedies in India, China, and Indonesia for centuries. The turmeric rhizome contains the active ingredient curcumin.

The following is what The American Cancer Society says about Turmeric on their website:

Curcumin, an active ingredient in turmeric, is an antioxidant. Antioxidants are compounds that can protect the body’s cells from damage caused by activated oxygen molecules known as free radicals. Laboratory studies have also shown that curcumin interferes with several important molecular pathways involved in cancer development, growth, and spread.

Recently, curcumin has received a great deal more attention in studies than turmeric as a whole herb. Researchers are studying curcumin to learn whether it is an effective anti-inflammatory agent and whether it holds any promise for cancer prevention or treatment. A number of studies of curcumin have shown promising results. Curcumin can kill cancer cells in laboratory dishes and also reduces growth of surviving cells. Curcumin also has been found to reduce development of several forms of cancer in laboratory animals and to shrink animal tumors.

Human studies of curcumin in cancer prevention and treatment are in the very early stages. One study of 15 patients with colorectal cancer was done to find out how much curcumin they could safely take, and whether they could take a dose large enough to be detected in the blood. The patients were able to take 3.6 grams of curcumin without noting ill effects. At this high dose, some curcumin and its products were found in the blood. Lower doses may work for the stomach and intestine. Even though it does not absorb well into the body, it has been shown to absorb into the colon lining and into any cancerous tissue in the colon. The researchers recommended that the high dose be used when curcumin is tested for effects outside the intestine. Other small studies have found people were able to take up to 10 grams per day for a period of a few weeks without noting problems. Some researchers are currently working on ways to increase absorption of curcumin by combining it with other substances. Further clinical trials are needed to find out what role, if any, turmeric and curcumin may play in the prevention or treatment of cancer.

Curcumin is being studied to see whether it helps other diseases as well. One small study of curcumin and another antioxidant called quercetin was done in adults who had kidney transplants. Those who took the combination in high dosages had fewer transplant rejections than those who received lower doses or placebo. More studies are needed to find out whether this holds true. Curcumin may also promote the emptying of the gallbladder, but again, more studies are needed.

Early studies showed promise that curcumin could correct the problem of cystic fibrosis, but later studies have been inconsistent and often showed no effect. Curcumin also seemed to help prevent stomach ulcers in rodents, although there are not good studies in humans to recommend it for this use.

Early research has suggested that curcumin may help lower “bad” cholesterol, reduce inflammation, and help with arthritis symptoms, although more reliable human studies are still needed. Tests of curcumin in HIV disease have been mixed and have generally not shown it to be helpful. In studies of mice, curcumin appeared to help with blocking the plaques and proteins that cause problems in the brain during Alzheimer’s disease.

For those of us who love Indian food, this is great news. For those who do not like Indian food, there are standardized supplements that can be purchased from your health care provider or the health food stores. Be sure to get a good brand with no fillers!

Stay Healthy!

 

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