Turmeric is touted to have many benefits, such as reducing inflammation and preventing cancer. Credit: www.shutterstock.com.au
Turmeric is a yellow coloured spice widely used in Indian and South East Asian cuisine. It's prepared from the root of a plant called Curcuma longa and is also used as a natural pigment in the food industry.
In the literature, curcumin is reported to be an antioxidant that protects the body against damage from reactive molecules. These are generated in the body as a result of metabolism and cause cell damage (known as free radicals).
It's also reported to have anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-cancer properties, as well as encouraging the death of cells that are dangerous or no longer needed by the body.
Curcumin has been widely studied in relation to numerous ailments, but what does the literature say? Is consuming turmeric beneficial?
For aches and pains
Chronic inflammation has been linked to the development of numerous diseases such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer. There is some evidence curcumin reduces the levels of certain substances (cytokines) that produce inflammation.
Systematic reviews and meta-analyses, which combine data from several randomised controlled trials (where an intervention is tested against a placebo, while the subjects and those conducting the study don't know who has received which treatment) support this finding to a certain extent.
A meta-analysis of nine randomised controlled trials showed taking curcumin supplements led to a significant reduction in cytokines that produce inflammation. But the authors claimed these reductions were modest, and it's unclear if they would actually have a benefit in real life.
These trials were conducted with small sample sizes ranging from 10 to 50 people, which reduces the strength of the evidence. It's difficult to draw a conclusion on a beneficial dose and how long you should take curcumin, or the population group that can benefit the most from curcumin.
A meta-analysis investigated the effects of turmeric/curcumin on pain levels in joint arthritis patients. The group supplemented with 1000mg of curcumin per day said they had reduced pain compared with the placebo group.
In this study, curcumin was found to be as effective as ibuprofen in terms of reducing pain levels in these patients. But the authors of this meta-analysis themselves suggested that due to small sample size and other methodological issues there is not sufficient evidence to draw definitive conclusions.
- For diabetes and heart disease
- Curcumin is also thought to be beneficial in preventing insulin resistance (which leads to increased blood sugar), improving high blood sugar and reducing the toxic effects of high blood glucose levels.
- But these studies have been conducted in animals and are very few human trials have been conducted in this area.
Turmeric is often marketed as an anti-inflammatory. Credit: Suppkings
One study that reported reduction in blood glucose levels in type 2 diabetes patients reports a change in blood glucose from 8.58 to 7.28 millimoles per litre after curcumin supplementation. People with levels above seven are classified as diabetics. So in clinical terms, the change is not that much.
Similarly in relation to heart disease, animal studies show benefits of curcumin supplementation in improving heart health, but there are very few clinical trials conducted in heart disease patients.
Smaller clinical trials looking at ten patients also show benefits of curcumin in reducing serum cholesterol, which is a risk factor for heart disease. But meta-analysis looking at combined effects of different trials does not show these benefits.
Curcumin has also been widely studied in relation to its anti-cancer properties. Laboratory and animal studies support this claim, but the evidence for cancer prevention in human trials is lacking.
- Although there are some small studies (in 25 cancer patients) that showed reductions in precancerous lesions, and two patients showed shrunken tumors, this small number is not enough to conclude anti-cancerous effects of curcumin.
- There is some evidence curcumin lessens the severity of side-effects from radiation therapy such as radiation-induced dermatitis and pneumonitis (inflammation of lungs), but not the cancer itself.
Research shows not all curcumin we take orally is absorbed. This has led to the use of other things such as lipids (fats) and piperine (found in black pepper), to help it absorb into our system.
High intakes (up to 12 grams a day) of curcumin can cause diarrhoea, skin rash, headaches and yellow-coloured faeces. Looking at the Indian population, they consume about 100mg of curcumin a day, which corresponds to 2 to 2.5 grams of turmeric per day.
But they also consume these amounts over relatively long periods of time (typically their lifespan). There are reports of lower cancer rates in the Indian population and this has been linked to turmeric consumption, but there are no longer term trials proving this link.
It appears that in order to receive benefits from high doses over a short period of time, people are now resorting to injecting turmeric intravenously. There is no evidence to support the benefits of high doses of turmeric or IV injections of turmeric at all.
In fact, at very high doses, curcumin's predominant activity switches from antioxidant to pro-oxidant, which means rather than preventing cells from damage, it promotes cell damage and has also been reported to cause tumours in rodents.
Although curcumin is showing some encouraging effects in reducing markers of inflammation in humans, the majority of the pharmacological effects of curcumin are in lab studies or animal experiments.
Until there are more high quality randomised controlled trials conducted to confirm the benefits of curcumin or turmeric, it's best to consume turmeric orally as a spice as part of a healthy, nutritious diet.
This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.
Citation: Can turmeric really shrink tumours, reduce pain and kill bacteria? (2017, April 24) retrieved 9 June 2020 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2017-04-turmeric-tumours-pain-bacteria.html This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
Turmeric is promoted as an alternative cancer treatment. There is some evidence that curcumin, a substance in turmeric, can kill cancer cells in certain cancers. But we need more research.
- Turmeric is a spice grown in many Asian countries.
- Research on curcumin as a cancer treatment is ongoing.
- It may have side effects if taken in large amounts.
What is turmeric?
Turmeric is also known as Indian saffron, jiang huang, haridra and haldi. It is a spice grown in many Asian countries. It belongs to the ginger family and is a main ingredient of curry powder.
The main active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin or diferuloyl methane. Laboratory studies have shown curcumin has anti cancer effects on cancer cells.
Why 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.
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.
At the moment there is no clear evidence in humans to show that turmeric or curcumin can prevent or treat cancer.
How you have it
Turmeric can be taken raw, as a powder, a paste or extract. It is also available as an oil.
Side effects of turmeric
It is important to remember that turmeric used in cooking is very safe. But we don't know how safe curcumin is when used for medical reasons. So far, research studies seem to show that it causes few or no side effects. But we don't know much about the side effects of taking it in large amounts to treat or prevent cancer.
People have reported stomach pain when eating too much turmeric. They have also reported skin problems when taking it for a long time. So, if you use curcumin for reasons other than cooking, talk to your doctor first.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has warned against Fortodol (also sold as Miradin). It is a turmeric-based food supplement.
Fortodol contains the strong anti-inflammatory drug nimesulide. Nimesulide can cause severe damage to the liver. The signs include:
- yellowing skin (jaundice)
- dark urine
- feeling or being sick
- unusual tiredness
- stomach or abdominal pain
- loss of appetite
It does not have a licence as a medicine in the UK. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) in the USA states that products with unknown amounts of nimesulide could be very harmful.
Research into curcumin as a cancer treatment
Several studies have looked into whether curcumin could be a cancer treatment. These have had some promising results.
One of these in 2013 was an international laboratory study on bowel cancer cells. It looked at the effects of combined treatment with curcumin and chemotherapy. The researchers concluded that the combined treatment might be better than chemotherapy alone.
A problem highlighted by a number of review studies is that curcumin does not get absorbed easily. This makes it work less well as a treatment. Researchers are looking at ways of overcoming this problem.
We need more clinical trials in humans before we know how well it works as a treatment for cancer.
How much it costs
Fortodol and Miradin are available in the UK and on the internet as food supplements. The FSA advises anyone taking these products to stop doing so immediately. They should contact their doctor if they have any signs of liver disease.
Do not believe information on the internet not backed up by research. And don’t pay for any alternative cancer therapy on the internet.
A word of caution
It is understandable that you might want to try anything if you think it might help treat or cure your cancer. Only you can decide whether to use an alternative cancer therapy such as turmeric.
You could harm your health if you stop your cancer treatment for an unproven treatment.
Many websites promote turmeric as a cure for cancer. But no reputable scientific cancer organisations support any of these claims.
24 Oct 2018
- Curcumin Enhances the Effect of Chemotherapy against Colorectal Cancer Cells by Inhibition of NF-κB and Src Protein Kinase Signaling Pathways.
- M Shakibaei and others
- PLOS ONE, February 22, 2013
Effects of resveratrol, curcumin, berberine and other nutraceuticals on aging, cancer development, cancer stem cells and microRNAs.
J McCubrey and others
Aging (Albany NY). 2017 June 12;9(6):1477-1536.
- New insights into therapeutic activity and anticancer properties of curcumin.
- A Panda and others
- Journal of Experimental Pharmacology 2017 March 31;9:31-45.
Liposomal curcumin and its application in cancer.
T Feng and others
International Journal of Nanomedicine. 2017 August 21;12:6027-6044.
What Are the Benefits of Turmeric?
Continue reading the main story
Have you noticed lattes, ice cream and smoothies with a tawny hue? That could be a sign of a not-so-secret ingredient: turmeric. The botanical is omnipresent in health food aisles, in the form of pills and powders.
Turmeric, native to South Asia, is one of the fastest-growing dietary supplements. In 2018 products racked up an estimated $328 millionin sales in the United States, a more than sevenfold increase from a decade earlier, according to a report from Nutrition Business Journal.
Brightening up the pantries of many homes in India, the spice is interwoven into daily life, the cuisine, and cultural and healing traditions.
A member of the ginger family, it has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years. Apply turmeric to wounds, and it’s believed to fight infection. Mix it with milk, and the mind calms.
Tint the entrance of new homes with a paste to welcome prosperity.
“Turmeric is auspicious and one of the most important herbs,” said Anupama Kizhakkeveettil, a board member of the National Ayurvedic Medical Association.
Turmeric: Health Benefits, Side Effects, Dosages, Interactions & Warnings
What Is Turmeric and How Does It Work?
Turmeric is a natural herb that is commonly used as a spice in a wide variety of food. It is a plant that is originally from India. Turmeric is also called curcumin, which is the active ingredient in the spice. When used as a spice in food, turmeric powder is yellow in color. It can also be used as an herbal supplement as follows:
Taken orally, turmeric is used to as a treatment for indigestion (dyspepsia), abdominal pain, hemorrhage, diarrhea, flatulence, abdominal bloating, loss of appetite, jaundice, hepatitis, and liver disease, gallbladder complaints, headaches, bronchitis, colds, respiratory infections, fibromyalgia, leprosy, fever, amenorrhea, and cancer.
Used topically turmeric is used as an anti-inflammatory treatment for treat skin conditions. It is also used to treat pain in the body, ringworm, bruising, leech bites, eye infections, inflammation of the oral mucosa, infected wounds, joint pain, and arthritis.
Turmeric is effective in treatment of indigestion (dyspepsia). Studies have shown that turmeric may be effective in lowering the level of cholesterol in the blood, and may be effective at preventing heart disease.
- Turmeric is also provides an antioxidant benefit, fighting potential damage from free radicals in the body.
- Other uses for turmeric are subject to further study.
- Turmeric is available under the following different brand names: Curcumin, Curcuma Longa, Turmeric Root, and Wild Curcuma.
Dosages of Turmeric Should Be Given As Follows:
Extract standardized to 95% curcumin
- Indigestion (Dyspepsia)
- 500 mg taken orally four times a day
- 200mg/mL (Depo-Turmeric)
- Colorectal Cancer
- Curcumin extract: 440 to 2200 mg (containing curcumin 36 to 180 mg) once daily for no more than 4 months
There are no dosage consideration for turmeric.
Curcumin for arthritis: Does it really work?
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease that is the most common type of arthritis. Usually, it occurs among people of advanced age. But it can begin in middle age or even sooner, especially if there’s been an injury to the joint.
While there are treatments available — exercise, braces or canes, loss of excess weight, various pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medicines — these are no cures, and none of the treatments are predictably effective.
In fact, often they don’t work at all, or help only a little. Injected steroids or synthetic lubricants can be tried as well. When all else fails, joint replacement surgery can be highly effective.
In fact, about a million joint replacements (mostly knees and hips) are performed each year in the US.
So, it’s no surprise that people with osteoarthritis will try just about anything that seems reasonably safe if it might provide relief.
My patients often ask about diet, including anti-inflammatory foods, antioxidants, low-gluten diets, and many others. There’s little evidence that most of these dietary approaches work.
When there is evidence, it usually demonstrates no consistent or clear benefit.
That’s why a new study is noteworthy: it suggests that curcumin, a naturally occurring substance found in a common spice, might work for osteoarthritis.
A new study of curcumin for osteoarthritis of the knee
In the study, researchers enrolled 139 people with symptoms of knee osteoarthritis. Their symptoms were at least moderately severe and required treatment with a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). For one month, they were given the NSAID diclofenac (50 mg, twice daily) or curcumin (500 mg, three times daily).
Why curcumin? It’s a naturally occurring substance, found in the spice turmeric, that has anti-inflammatory effects. Its use has been advocated for cardiovascular health, arthritis, and a host of other conditions. However, well-designed studies of its health benefits are limited.
Here’s what this study found:
- Both treatments relieved arthritis symptoms and helped to a similar degree: 94% of those taking curcumin and 97% of those taking diclofenac reported at least 50% improvement.
- People reported fewer side effects with curcumin. For example, none of the study subjects taking curcumin needed treatment for stomach trouble, but 28% of those taking diclofenac needed treatment.
- Those taking curcumin lost, on average, nearly 2% of their body weight in just four weeks — that’s 3.5 pounds for a 175-pound person.
Ready to start taking curcumin?
Not so fast. It’s rare that a single study can change practice overnight, and this one is no exception. A number of factors give me pause:
- The study was small and only lasted a month.
- Only osteoarthritis of the knee was studied. We should not assume that other types of arthritis or that osteoarthritis of other joints would respond similarly.
- Curcumin was compared with only one possible dosage level of diclofenac (not the highest advisable dose). In addition, the diclofenac used in this study was uncoated (even though there is a coated formulation designed to be easier on the stomach). The results of this study might have been different if another NSAID or a different dose or formulation of diclofenac had been compared with curcumin.
- The study was unblinded — that is, study participants and researchers knew who was getting curcumin and who was getting the NSAID. This can sometimes bias the results by changing expectations of side effects or benefit.
- We don’t know how well curcumin would work, or if it would be safe, for the types of people excluded from this study. For example, this study enrolled adults ages 38 to 65 and excluded those with significant kidney or stomach disease. For younger or older people, those with other medical problems, or those taking multiple medications, the results might have been different.
Turmeric and dementia
- There is currently no real evidence that supports turmeric being used to prevent or treat Alzheimer’s disease.
- A number of studies have used mouse and cell models of dementia and shown that curcumin, one component of turmeric, could be beneficial.
- However, there have been a small number of research studies in humans that have shown that turmeric is not easily absorbed by the body.
- More research in adults with dementia is needed before we can establish if turmeric could be used as a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.
Find out more about the research behind other alternative therapies for dementia.
Many different studies have explored the potential role of turmeric as a treatment for Alzheimer's disease. Most research is centred around curcumin, which is one component of turmeric.
Most of the studies investigating curcumin have been performed in mice or in cells. These have suggested that curcumin can reduce inflammation and oxidative stress.
- Some findings have also suggested that curcumin may be able to prevent the formation, and even break up, amyloid-beta plaques, the toxic protein clumps that build up in Alzheimer’s disease.
- However, the results from a very small number of clinical studies, in humans, have been mixed and have not found the same results as the studies in cells and mice.
- The way that curcumin may work within the brain is unclear and we need more research looking into its mechanism.
There are several research studies currently being carried out looking at the anti-inflammatory role of curcumin. These will hopefully provide more insight into the benefit of curcumin in adults with dementia.
Can turmerone help people with dementia?
Use power of turmeric and boost your immunity with Curcumin in the time of viral infections
Published: March 16, 2020 1:18 PM
Turmeric helps the body naturally cleanse the respiratory tract.
By Dr. Saurabh Arora
Immunity is our body’s natural defence against disease-causing bacteria and virus. It can considerably reduce the odds of getting sick.
Summers are also approaching and our Immune system is getting compromised slightly due to the change in weather. It is only due to the weak immunity that people are getting affected with the widespread coronavirus and other such pandemics.
Anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and anti-bacterial properties contained turmeric also contains curcumin.
Turmeric aids in making our immunity stronger, the main life-saving ingredient in turmeric is about 3-5 % of Curcumin; a phyto-derivative, which contains healing properties. However, because of the low percentage levels in standardized turmeric powder, it is difficult to reap all benefits by just taking turmeric in small doses and thus supplements could be required.
Cold & Cough – As the temperature changes from cold to warm, it is very common for individuals to catch a common cold or flu. Turmeric helps the body naturally cleanse the respiratory tract, Turmeric helps fight the infection and it’s anti-inflammatory qualities relieve individuals from the direct impact of cold and flu.
Ginger and Turmeric: A Dynamic Pain-Fighting Duo
Are they pain cure-alls? No, but they may help ease your aching head, belly, or bones. Here’s what’s known about the medicinal qualities of ginger and turmeric, and how to incorporate them into your diet.
Both ginger and turmeric are rhizomes, or root stalks, used around the world, not only as food seasonings but also as traditional herbal medicines. As herbal remedies, both spices are used primarily to help alleviate different types of pain.
Many scientific studies have been conducted to determine if and how each rhizome actually works.
Although results have been mixed, there’s reason to believe that ginger and turmeric both contain active ingredients that can provide at least some relief to those suffering from a number of painful conditions, from arthritis and gastric discomfort to migraine headaches and post-surgical pain.
Ginger as a Go-To
The active medicinal ingredients in ginger are phytochemicals known as gingerols and shogoal.
Ginger has long been used as an herbal remedy to relieve motion sickness, morning sickness, general nausea, and upset stomach and, more recently, post-surgical nausea and chemotherapy-induced nausea.
Ginger has also been used to treat and prevent the growth of H pylori, the bacteria responsible for gastric infections and ulcers.
A study of 150 women with equally severe menstrual pain compared the pain-relieving properties of ginger to ibuprofen and a prescription NSAID (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug) and found them to be equally effective.
Another study found that ginger was just as effective as a common triptan medication used to treat many types of migraine headaches. Both powdered ginger and the triptan relieved headache pain within two hours.
Research also suggests that regularly eating ginger can help relieve certain pain that comes with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
In addition to helping relieve pain, ginger may help to prevent some of the side effects associated with conventional painkillers as well.
Long-term or high-dose use of aspirin and NSAIDs have been linked to stomach damage such as lesions, ulcers, and other gastrointestinal disorders.
Research shows that the active compounds in ginger may help protect the lining of the stomach from damage due to these drugs, as well as alcohol and excess hydrochloric acid produced by the stomach in some conditions.
Working ginger into your diet
Several forms of ginger can be used to flavor foods and potentially reduce certain forms of pain. These include fresh gingerroot, powdered ginger, crystallized (sugared) ginger, and ginger juice.
(To make ginger juice, shred a knob of fresh ginger over a strong paper towel; gather the shreds into a bundle and squeeze the juice out gently over a small bowl.
) To routinely incorporate ginger into your diet:
- add peeled, fresh, or powdered ginger to fruit, vegetable smoothies, and shakes
- add powdered ginger or ginger juice to tomato juice or soup, lemonade, and hot or iced tea
- use fresh or powdered ginger in stir-fries, curries, and meat marinades (use small amounts at first, then adjust to taste)