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Turmeric: The Super Spice for Wellness

Studies Reveal Turmeric’s Effectiveness in Combating Alzheimer’s, Arthritis, and Cancer

What ancient spice has proudly outperformed its pharmaceutical counterparts in over 200 studies related to chronic disease?! None other than the fierce little botanical, turmeric, most often associated with Indian curry.

With an estimated 600 uses (including 22 you might not suspect), turmeric has been an integral part of healing traditions for thousands of years. Turmeric’s wide-reaching benefits are often rooted in its powerful anti-inflammatory effects. Curcumin, turmeric’s most potent compound, has been shown to interfere with cellular threats like mutation (cancer), unwanted plaque (Alzheimer’s) and excess inflammation (joint pain).

A comprehensive study published by James A. Duke, Phd., in the October, 2007 issue of Alternative & Complementary Therapies, highlighted turmeric’s effectiveness in combatting three top foes (the “AAC” triad):

1. Alzheimer’s Disease. 
More than 50 studies address turmeric’s positive effects on Alzheimer’s disease. Turmeric contains agents that block the formation of the dreaded beta-amyloid, the plaque-forming substance responsible for slowly obstructing cerebral function in Alzheimer’s disease.

Epidemiologists have even hypothesized that daily curries eaten in India may help explain the low rate of Alzheimer’s disease there. Among Indian seniors, 70 to 79 years old, Alzheimer’s is more than 4 times less likely than in the United States. That’s a difference that is worth taking note.

2. Arthritis.
 Turmeric contains more than two dozen anti-inflammatory compounds, including six different COX-2-inhibitors (which selectively block pain, swelling and inflammation). In one study, Italian researchers found that after only 90 days of a curcumin extract, participants reported:

  • 58 percent decrease in overall reported pain and stiffness and improvement in physical functioning.
  • 300 percent improvement in the emotional well being
  • 16-fold decline in C-reactive protein (a marker for inflammation)

Patients in the curcumin group were able to reduce use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs by 63 percent, compared to the control group.

3. Cancer.
 Turmeric and curcumin support a healthy cellular environment. Dr. Duke found more than 200 citations for turmeric and cancer and more than 700 for turmeric’s most active ingredient, curcumin, and cancer.

“The active component of turmeric turns out to be the best blocker yet of a natural chemical called TNF, or tumor necrosis factor, which contributes to cancers and arthritis and is resistant to chemotherapy drugs,” said Bharat B. Aggarwal, professor of cancer medicine in the Department of Experimental Therapeutics at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, who has studied the spice for a decade. “You don’t even need tens of thousands of dollars of TNF blockers,” Aggarwal said. “Turmeric does exactly the same thing.”

With a citation list that keeps growing and includes colon cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, liver cancer (in rats), esophageal cancer, and oral cancer, turmeric and curcumin are making big waves in research circles.

Turmeric can also act as a weak phytoestrogen, potentially offering another anti-cancer benefits by taking the place of dangerous xenoestrogens, so often responsible for prostate and breast cancer, among others.

Lastly, you may remember that turmeric also acts to reduce carcinogenic compounds that result from grilling, broiling, or frying meats (HCBs). So, if you’re a fan of the grill or a fried-food fan, turmeric may just be your new best friend.