Turmeric is a plant that’s common in South Asia but is grown around the world. It is also known as Indian saffron, Jiang Huang, Haridra and Haldi. It belongs to the ginger family and is the main ingredient of curry powder. The underground part of the stem is a spice that has been used in cooking for hundreds of years. The active substance in turmeric is curcumin.
The main active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin or diferuloylmethane. Laboratory studies have shown curcumin has anti-cancer effects on cancer cells. Curcumin is a powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants protect your cells from damage. Curcumin can also reduce swelling and pain.
What is it used for?
To prevent cancer
To treat infections
To reduce inflammation (swelling and redness)
To treat joint pain
Why do people with cancer use it?
Research has shown lower rates of certain cancers in countries where people eat more curcumin. This is at curcumin levels of about 100mg to 200mg a day over long periods of time.
The active constituents are turmerone oil and water-soluble curcuminoids, among which curcumin has largely been the focus of research. In vitro studies suggest that it acts as a weak phytoestrogen, and exhibits neuroprotective, choleretic, anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory, anti-proliferative, and chemopreventive effects. Curcumin, its analogs, and liposomal formulations also demonstrated chemosensitizing and radiosensitizing effects.
A few laboratory studies on cancer cells have shown that curcumin has anti-cancer effects. It seems to be able to kill cancer cells and prevent more from growing. It has the best effects on breast cancer, bowel cancer, stomach cancer and skin cancer cells. The anticarcinogenic properties of curcumin in animals have been demonstrated by its inhibition of tumor initiation and tumor promotion. Studies of curcumin have shown that it influences structurally unrelated membrane proteins across several signalling pathways. A recent report suggests that curcumin inserts deep into the cellular membrane in a transbilayer orientation, anchored by hydrogen bonding to the phosphate group of lipids, thus inducing negative curvature in the bilayer. The promotion of negative curvature by curcumin may have a direct effect on apoptosis by increasing the permeabilizing activity of the apoptotic protein tBid. Curcumin has been shown to suppress multiple signalling pathways and inhibit cell proliferation, invasion, metastasis, and angiogenesis. The chemopreventive action of curcumin might be due to its ability to induce apoptosis by several pathways. Curcumin directly or indirectly controls different gene or gene products involved in cell death pathways.
*Talk with your healthcare providers about using turmeric and foods that contain turmeric if you’re getting chemotherapy. In lab experiments, turmeric stopped some chemotherapy medications from working against breast cancer cells.
*Talk with your healthcare providers about using turmeric and foods that contain turmeric if you have gastrointestinal problems, or if you have a family history of kidney stones. Taking turmeric supplements may put you at a higher risk of getting kidney stones.