Tumeric & Curcumin

If you like Indian cuisine, you’ll enjoy this week’s review. Most of us are familiar with turmeric as the yellow spice used in many Indian dishes to give them their characteristic flavor and color. You may be interested to know that turmeric’s most active ingredient, curcumin has many wonderful properties. While the leaf is not really used, the root has potent power to potentially help with many illnesses.

It contains a number of antioxidants including Vitamin C and E along with several carotenoids. It also contains an even more effective antioxidant curcumin and its related compounds known as what else, Curcuminoids.

Turmeric has long been used as a coloring agent. To learn more, check out http://www.mccormick.com/content.cfm?id=10077

If you’ve ever experienced a headache, you know the power of aspirin in some cases to take it away. Cycloxygenase inhibitors, of which aspirin is one and Celebrex is another, are the pharmaceutical versions that take away pain (and unfortunately sometimes leave us with a side effects such as ulcers, stroke, etc). Well the good news is that turmeric may offer some of the same relief without the side effects. It contains natural cycloxygenase inhibitors. Some studies suggest it rivals Motrin in its pain relieving abilities without any of the side effects. While it is not as effective as the corticosteroids, it still offers significant relief without the problems.

In addition to pain, turmeric (or its active ingredient curcumin) is thought to block four different pathways that may lead to cancer. In fact in one study evaluating future risk of colon cancer, it reduced the future risk by 58%. Not bad for one little spice. (1)

Additionally, some 19 studies have affirmed that curcumin could inhibit the growth of a variety of cancer cell lines.

There is also evidence that it can increase bile flow and potentially reduce the incidence of gallstones, however if you already have gallstones, be careful. If you increase the motility of the gallbladder and have a stone, you could theoretically lodge it in the bile duct. This would NOT be good. (2)

According to the German Commission E Monographs (the most complete and accurate assessment available on most herbs), turmeric has a mild spasmolytic effect on the upper gastrointestinal tract, which in essence means it takes away intestinal spasm. There are no known side effects of the root and it has no known interactions with other medications. Unless otherwise recommended, the average daily dosage is 1.5 to 3 grams of the purified form, which is generally a 3% standardized curcumin extract. It should be divided into three doses and a good starting dosage for an adult would be 500mg three times daily. (3)

According to Dr. James Duke, a renown herbal researcher, adding an ounce of fresh ground black peppercorns to one pound of turmeric will give you a 10 month supply of anti-inflammatory relief for about $5.00 US. Generally, one-half teaspoon of this mixture three times daily will give significant relief.

Turmeric seems to have a wonderful effect on the liver’s ability to clear certain environmental toxins including the pesticide DDT and pollutants such as phenols. It may do this by increasing the activity of detoxification enzymes: aryl-hydrocarbon-hydroxylase, glutathione-S- transferase, and UDP glucuronyl transferase. (1)

It’s also been shown to be of benefit in acne as a topical paste.

Lastly, it helps wounds heal more quickly by inhibiting the inflammation that comes along with the healing, but not to the point of blocking the immune power of the body in the healing process. One study showed that animals given curcumin healed much faster than those who weren’t given the extra protection.

The recipe below is from the Dinner Diva, Leanne Ely, http://savingdinner.com/. I thought you would enjoy fighting cancer, slowing down the production of gallstones, and lessening those painful muscles while you’re taking in a great meal. “Let your food be your medicine and your medicine be your food,” said Hippocrates sometime in the distant past.   So, eat your turmeric as you celebrate health …… Enjoy!

To Your Health!!

Dr. Neal

References:

(1)   Dr. Duke’s Essential Herbs, James A Duke, PhD. Pages 235 to 246.

(2)   Natural Compounds in Cancer Therapy, John Boik, Oregon Medical Press, LLC. 2001.

(3)   The German E Monographs Published 1998

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