The benefits of Curcumin
Turmeric is the primary ingredient found in the curry powders that are used to season the foods of Middle Eastern, Asian, and Indian cuisines. Accumulating evidence also reveals that this brightly colored relative of ginger is a powerful disease preventive as well as an effective cancer-fighting agent.
Curcumin is the most active constituent of turmeric. It is anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, anti-microbial, and anti-carcinogenic and has been shown to reverse the tendency for bad genes to express themselves. It is a promoter of apoptosis (or cancer cell death) and can halt angiogenesis (which is the development of new blood supply for cancerous tumors), and it can reduce the inflammatory cancer micro-environment. In addition, it has the ability to block estrogen mimicking chemicals and increase overall immunity of the body. One of the powerful things that curcumin has the ability to do that chemotherapy and radiation cannot is to specifically target cancer stem cells, which is where all cancer begins.
One of the most comprehensive summaries of turmeric studies to date was published by the respected ethnobotanist James A. Duke, PhD., in the October, 2007 issue of Alternative & Complementary Therapies. In reviewing some 700 studies, Duke concluded that turmeric appears to outperform many pharmaceuticals in its effects against several chronic, debilitating diseases, with virtually no adverse side effects.
Some of the diseases that curcumin has been found to prevent or alleviate:
- Alzheimer’s disease: Duke found more than 50 studies on turmeric’s effects in addressing Alzheimer’s disease. The reports indicate that extracts of turmeric contain a number of natural agents that block the formation of beta-amyloid, the substance responsible for the plaques that slowly obstruct cerebral function in Alzheimer’s disease.
- Arthritis: Turmeric contains more than two dozen anti-inflammatory compounds, including six different COX-2-inhibitors (the COX-2 enzyme promotes pain, swelling and inflammation; inhibitors selectively block that enzyme). By itself, writes Duke, curcumin – the component in turmeric most often cited for its healthful effects – is a multifaceted anti-inflammatory agent, and studies of the efficacy of curcumin have demonstrated positive changes in arthritic symptoms.
- Cancer: Duke found more than 200 citations for turmeric and cancer and more than 700 for curcumin and cancer. He noted that in the handbook Phytochemicals: Mechanisms of Action, curcumin and/or turmeric were effective in animal models in prevention and/or treatment of colon cancer, mammary cancer, prostate cancer, murine hepatocarcinogenesis (liver cancer in rats), esophageal cancer, and oral cancer. Duke said that the effectiveness of the herb against these cancers compared favorably with that reported for pharmaceuticals.
Studies regarding curcumin and cancer
- In 2001, scientists discovered that turmeric dampens the inflammation cascade that can occur within the body, thereby stopping the proliferation of cancer in its tracks.
- In 2002, scientists began unraveling how turmeric selectively worked against cancer cells. They found that cancer cells produce “transcription factors” which protect them against cell death. Turmeric’s active ingredients include a host of compounds known as curcuminoids. Collectively, they attack the cancer’s transcription factor, and restore the cells’ natural ability to commit suicide (apoptosis) . Unlike conventional treatments, turmeric strengthens healthy cells, while removing cancerous ones with laser-like precision.
- Early in the 1990s, the University of Texas’s M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, in Houston, reported that the anticancer effects of turmeric were found to be “staggering.” After sprinkling a pinch of the spice on cancer cells in the lab, researchers found that it blocked a crucial pathway required for the development of skin cancer, prostate tumors, as well as other cancers.
- Further studies at the University of Wisconsin reported that turmeric blocks a type of cancer fertilizer known as VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor). Without this growth factor, cancer cells are unable to thrive and eventually commit cell suicide.
- Epidemiology studies reveal that populations who consume the most turmeric also have the lowest rates of prostate cancers. India has twenty-five times less incidence prostate cancers than men in the United States. The average intake of turmeric in the Indian population is 2-2.5 g/day, providing about 60-200 mg of curcumin.
In regards to supplementation with curcumin
The standard dose for curcumin is 400 to 600 milligrams daily, but when dealing with cancer or other chronic illness, this dose can go as high as 4, 6,or 8 grams daily. As reported, “phase I clinical trials, using massive doses of curcumin (up to 8 g/day for four months) in human volunteers, “did not result in discernible toxicities.”
Unfortunately many supplemental formulations of curcumin are unable to cross from the digestive tract into the bloodstream, so when purchasing look for a Bio-available form of Curcumin, which allows for the highest available absorption rates (up to 96%) into the bloodstream. Link to the source article.
A testimonial of healing from multiple myeloma with high doses of curcumin
Dieneke Ferguson was first diagnosed with multiple myeloma back in 2007, and since then she has endured three rounds of chemotherapy treatments and four stem cell transplants. When the cancer relapsed again in 2011, she had little hope of being cured.
Myeloma is a cancer of the plasma cells. These are white blood cells that produce infection-fighting antibodies in your body. Myeloma cells prevent the normal production of these antibodies, leaving your body’s immune system weakened and susceptible to infection. The multiplication of myeloma cells also interferes with the normal production and function of red and white blood cells. Myeloma cells commonly produce substances that cause bone destruction which leads to bone pain and/or fractures, and having abnormally high amount of these dysfunctional antibodies in the bloodstream can cause damage to the kidneys. Myeloma is not curable with conventional means and most people die within three to five years of diagnosis.
Dieneke explains, ‘I had been on all sorts of toxic drugs and the side-effects were terrifying. At one point I lost my memory for three days, and in 2008, two of the vertebrae in my spine collapsed so I couldn’t walk. They injected some kind of concrete into my spine to keep it stable.’ She adds, “Yet, despite all this, nothing worked: there was just too much cancer — all my options were exhausted, and there was nothing else I could do.’
In 2011, Dieneke decided to try something different. She had been visiting some online supports groups and had read that taking curcumin might be helpful for her. She decided to try it since she had nothing to lose. After researching the dosage and doing some experimentation, she began taking 8 grams per day of a bio-available form of curcumin, which allows for much higher absorption rates into the bloodstream.
She took the dosage all at once in the evening on an empty stomach to help with the absorption, but she does say that because people are different, this may not be the best way for everyone. She recommends that people begin slowly and build themselves up to taking the higher dosage over a period of a month.
Dieneke followed this dosage schedule:
- 1 gram of curcumin for the first week
- 2 grams of curcumin for the second week
- 4 grams of curcumin for the third week
- By week 4 she went up to 8 grams
Dieneke reports that her cancer cell count soon stabilized and then began decreasing in number. She says, ‘I told my oncologist I was taking it and he was very interested, especially when it apparently made such a difference.’ says Dieneke, 67, who lives in North London.
A few months later she started having weekly hyperbaric oxygen treatments, which involves breathing pure oxygen in an enclosed chamber. HBOT increases the amount of oxygen in the blood and is used to promote healing from various illnesses (including cancer) and as a means to fight infection.
Dieneke’s recovery was so extraordinary that it made the pages of the eminent British Medical Journal as a one-off case report of how a natural ingredient was keeping cancer at bay. Jamie Cavenagh, professor of blood diseases at London’s Barts Hospital and co-author of the report, said, ‘Dieneke’s is the best response I have observed and it is clear-cut because we had stopped all other treatment. When you review her chart, there’s no alternative explanation other than we’re seeing a response to curcumin.’ Five years later, Dieneke’s cancer cell count remains negligible. Dieneke continues to take 8 grams of the bio-available Curcumin per day to keep the cancer from returning, and she reports no issues with toxicity.
Contraindications- curcumin may cause mild gastrointestinal distress in some individuals so taking the supplements with food should help to minimize this. Check with your doctor if you are on chemotherapy, are taking blood thinners, or are pregnant or nursing. Precautions should be observed if you are suffering from blood clotting disorders, obstructive jaundice, acute bilious colic, hepatitis or have gallbladder obstructions.
Combine this therapy with a healing diet