Can a Spice in Curry Reverse the Spread of Cancer?
Turmeric—along with its main ingredient, curcumin—is much more than just a yellow spice for seasoning curry. Don’t get me wrong, curry is fantastic, but this little yellow root can do great things. The Curcuma Longa plant, where turmeric comes from, is related to ginger and has long been used as a dye and a spice in Asia and India, but these countries have also used it for hundreds of years to treat inflammation, infection, and respiratory diseases.
In Ayurvedic medicine, Turmeric is applied to cuts, wounds, and skin infections as a poultice to aid in the healing process and relieve pain. Turmeric is added to food to treat indigestion, heartburn, dyspepsia, and parasites. It can also be mixed into tea or other beverages to treat colds, cough, and respiratory problems.
The anti-inflammatory and antibacterial nature of turmeric has been well documented. Recently, modern medical trials have not only supported this documentation, but have also begun to prove that the curcumin in turmeric can do even more: lower cholesterol, fight Alzheimer’s, lessen arthritis, and encourage cancer cells to self-destruct.
The anti-inflammatory and pain fighting properties of curcumin make it unsurprising that it also serves as a remedy for arthritis. Curcumin does this by naturally inhibiting COX-2, an enzyme responsible for pain and inflammation, creating a mild numbing effect for joints and tissues. These same properties make turmeric a great remedy for asthma, helping the body control inflammation and pain in the lungs.
Curcumin’s antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties mean turmeric aids in combatting colds, cough, flu, candida, athlete’s foot, ringworm, and a host of other ailments. Turmeric is also rich in many antioxidants that fight disease by removing the free radicals that accelerate oxidation, cellular damage, and even aging.
Curcumin inhibits the beta-amyloid buildup which is responsible for plaque formations that contribute to Alzheimer’s. Plaque is a symptom and probably not the cause, but any step against this dreadful disease is worth looking into. Curcumin also inhibits the body’s intake of cholesterol from food by up to 40%.
Curcumin’s cancer fighting abilities are some of the most recent and exciting discoveries and blow the curry flavoring and coloring benefits out of the water. Apart from limiting cholesterol absorption, it has also shown promise in limiting the absorption of cancer-causing molecules found in grilled or charred food. On top of this, new trials show that curcumin encourages apoptosis in cancer cells.
Apoptosis is the natural death of cells that have been damaged or have taken in toxins. Cancer cells resist death and grow unregulated, dividing continuously outside the normal cell cycle without dying off like normal cells when they break down or malfunction. Curcumin seems to restore the natural cell cycle once more for cancer cells and results in death for these cells that no longer function normally. Cancer cells quite literally self-destruct when curcumin is introduced to them. Unlike other chemotherapy agents, curcumin leaves healthy cells alone and untouched. Turmeric and curcumin also boost immune function, aiding in the production of immune cells that fight cancer and other diseases.
One of the best things about Turmeric is it can easily be supplemented into your diet as a spice. Despite turmeric’s pungent smell, it has a mild peppery flavor that can be added to many dishes in small to medium amounts. It goes well with curries, soups, stews, sauces, rice dishes, lentils, sautéed vegetables, stir fries, fajitas, and many more meals. Black pepper seems to increase turmeric’s beneficial effects, so make sure you add a dash or two of fresh ground black pepper to the same recipes. Infuse oil with turmeric to add antioxidant benefits to almost anything. You can even add turmeric to fruit smoothies. It can also be found in capsule form as a supplement that may be easier for many people to take.
Side effects are rare. Turmeric is considered a safe spice to be used by everyone, but people taking blood thinners, people with gallbladder problems, pregnant or nursing women, people with heart disease, and people taking medication should consult a physician before starting any new supplement.