Curcumin (n) “A compound present in the spice turmeric, frequently used in Indian food. Its chemical makeup is responsible for the yellow coloring of turmeric, and is often used specifically to give color to foods. However, it may serve a more important purpose to humans. Medical researchers are fascinated by curcumin because it has been shown to have several properties that may fight specific forms of cancer.” (Wisegeek)
Curcumin has been used for centuries in India and other parts of Southeast Asia as both a cooking spice and a medicine to treat arthritis and gastrointestinal upset. In Ayurvedic medicine, curcumin is known as a “cleanser of the body.”
A number of studies have also shown promising results for using curcumin in the fight against cancer.
Curcumin & Cancer
Curcumin contains compounds that have potent anti-inflammatory properties and is high in antioxidants. Laboratory research suggests that curcumin may slow down the growth of and even kill cancer cells in triple negative breast cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer and ovarian cancer. Additional research suggests that curcumin helps make certain tumors more sensitive to the effects of chemotherapy and radiation, thereby helping to increase the effectiveness of these treatments.
One of the drawbacks to curcumin is that it is poorly absorbed even at high doses. In addition, at high doses, it can cause stomach discomfort. However, new and improved curcumin supplements are now available that are more completely digested and easier to tolerate. Keep in mind that although a number of studies have shown positive impact of curcumin on cancer, more definitive research still needs to be done.
Alan took curcumin 3x a day as prescribed by my very favorite oncological nutritionist, Dr. Glen Luepnitz. Our doctors were supportive of our decision to use curcumin- however, there were certain times where our doctors asked us not to take it, like the few days before and after surgery. I also cooked with tumeric (which contains curcumin) whenever possible- I added it to salad dressings and made Grilled Moroccan Chicken often.
THE BOTTOMLINE: The jury is still out on whether curcumin has real anti-cancer potential. However, if you decide that this is something you want to investigate taking, make sure of a few things…
* Discuss the use of curcumin or any herbal supplement with your own doctors prior to taking. Some supplements can actually have negative reactions with certain types of chemotherapy and radiation.
* Not all herbal supplements are created equal so make sure to buy any supplements from a reputable nutritionist.