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Healtturmerich Benefits: Turmeric is one of nature's most powerful healers. The active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin. Turmeric has been used for over 2500 years in India Ayurvedic and Asian medicine to treat fevers, stomach aches and cuts. The medicinal properties of this spice have been slowly revealing themselves over the centuries. Long known for its anti-inflammatory properties, recent research has revealed that turmeric is a natural wonder, proving beneficial in the treatment of many different health conditions from cancer to Alzheimer's disease. Daily Turmeric consumption is one of the reasons cancer researchers suspect India’s rate for breast, colon, prostate and lung cancer is much lower than in the United States.

Turmeric is native to Asia, where it grows as a perennial flowering plant. The aboveground and underground roots are used to produce turmeric powder for medicinal and food uses. With its distinct golden hue, turmeric is used as a food color and as a spice or flavor enhancer. Of note, turmeric is one of the principle ingredients in curry powder. The active ingredient in turmeric is a substance known as curcumin, which belongs to the family of curcuminoid compounds.

Research Shows Astonishing Disease Fighting Power of Turmeric

Dr. Bharat Aggarwal, a professor in the Department of Experimental Therapeutics at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, has been studying the spice for several decades.

“It has enormous potential. It is safe. It has been around for a long, long time; and for the first time, I think we have evidence that it may be working as well, “ he said.

Turmeric holds a high place in Ayurvedic medicine as a "cleanser of the body" and today science is finding a growing list of disease conditions which turmeric's active ingredient heals.  Broad interest in curcumin's anti-inflammatory effects is increasing. Hundred’s of laboratory and animal studies have shows that the substance curcumin (in turmeric) kills a wide variety of cancer cells including colon, breast, prostate, pancreatic, brain and melanoma and slows tumor growth as well. The preclinical research has taken the spice from the lab to the clinic.

“ We have shown that a wide variety of tumor cells can be selectively killed by curcumin, and it does not kill the normal cells but will kill only the cancer cells. There are no known side affects in people,” he said.

Aggarwal said he has gradually given cancer patients up to 500 mg a day without side affects. While phase 1 & II clinical trials have been small, 40 have been completed and 40 more are ongoing.  Aggarwal believes the spice has a promising future as an inexpensive, nontoxic cancer preventative agent and treatment.

“We are of the opinion that inflammation causes cancer, and if you can inhibit inflammation, you can prevent or even treat cancer. We have found that spices are some of the best anti-inflammatory agents available,” Aggarwal said.


Researchers are examining curcumin as a possible immunsystem stimulator that can modulate the activation of T cells, B cells, macrophages, neutrophils, natural killer cells, and dendritic cells; downregulate various proinflammatory cytokines and chemokines, and enhance antibody responses. This activity, writes M. D. Anderson researchers G. C. Jaggetia and B.B. Aggerwal, suggests "that curcumin's reported beneficial effects in arthritis, allergy, asthma, atherosclerosis, heart disease, Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, and cancer might be due in part to its ability to modulate the immune system. Together, these findings warrant further consideration of curcumin as a therapy for immune disorders.” (J Clin Immunol.2007 Jan;27(1):19-35).

Dr. Ramamoorthy is Associate Professor, Chemistry at University of Michigan. His expertise lies in the study of membrane proteins, nanomedicine and natural antibiotics. Professor Ayyalusamy Ramamoorthy led the University of Michigan study. He explains, "The membrane goes from being crazy and floppy to being more disciplined and ordered, so that information flow through it can be controlled." The study shows that turmeric has a wide array of health benefits, including anti-oxidant powers, anti-viral properties, and other astonishing abilities that may help humans fight many diseases.

The newest study reveals exactly how turmeric helps fight disease. Curcumin in turmeric acts indirectly to improve cellular function by inserting itself directly into the cell membrane to boost resistance to infection and cancer, and potentially many other diseases. Curcumin, when introduced into the body, enters the cell membrane. Once there, researchers say curcumin in turmeric has the ability to keep cell membranes in order, acting as a disciplinarian. The result leads to increased resistance to infection and cancer.
Journal of the American Chemical Society

Therapeutic potential of curcumin in human prostate cancer. III. Dorai T... Katz AE. Prostate 2001 Jun 1;47(4):293-303
"Curcumin could be a potentially therapeutic anti-cancer agent, as it significantly inhibits prostate cancer growth... and has the potential to prevent the progression of this cancer to its hormone refractory state."

Here are some reasons to add turmeric to your diet:

  • It is a natural antiseptic and antibacterial agent, useful in disinfecting cuts and burns.
  • Has been shown to prevent prostate cancer and stop the growth of existing prostate cancer.
  • Prevented breast cancer from spreading to the lungs in mice.
  • May prevent melanoma and cause existing melanoma cells to commit suicide.
  • Is a natural liver detoxifier.
  • May prevent and slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease by removing amyloyd plaque buildup in the brain.
  • May prevent metastases from occurring in many different forms of cancer.
  • It is a potent natural anti-inflammatory that works as well as many anti-inflammatory drugs but without the side effects.
  • Has shown promise in slowing the progression of multiple sclerosis in mice.
  • May aid in fat metabolism and help in weight management.
  • Has long been used in Chinese medicine as a treatment for depression.
  • Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, it is a natural treatment for arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Promising studies are underway on the effects of turmeric on pancreatic cancer.
  • Studies are ongoing in the positive effects of turmeric on multiple myeloma.
  • Has been shown to stop the growth of new blood vessels in tumors.
  • Speeds up wound healing and assists in remodeling of damaged skin.
  • May help in the treatment of psoriasis and other inflammatory skin conditions.

Once you start using turmeric on a regular basis, it's fun to find new ways to use it in recipes. My favorite way to use it is to add a pinch of it to egg salad. It adds a nice flavor and gives the egg salad a rich yellow hue.

Lentils With Turmeric (Tarkha Dal)

1/2 cup split red lentils
1/4 cup split yellow lentils
2 1/2 cups water
1" piece ginger, minced
2 green chilies, finely chopped
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 or more teaspoons turmeric
1 onion, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
4 teaspoon mustard seeds
4 dried red chillies
1 Tblspn. olive oil
salt to taste
Few cilantro leaves (or other herbs, like basil) to taste, chopped.

Method: Boil the lentils in water salt and turmeric for 15-20 minutes or until soft. Mash the lentils till creamy. If the lentil mixture looks too dry, add some water. Heat the oil in a pan. Add the mustard seeds and red chilies. Add the onion, ginger, garlic and green chilies fry for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the lentils and mix thoroughly. season if necessary. Cook for a while. Garnish with cilantro. Serve hot. (recipe adapted from Dals recipe at A Taste of India in Bitu's Vegetarian Cafe (no longer online).


  • WTSP-TV, Tampa, FLA by Heather VAnnest

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