Curcumin Appears to Be Universally Useful for All Cancers
Among the most exciting benefits of turmeric is its potent anti-cancer activity.18,19 Curcumin actually has the most evidence-based literature20 supporting its use against cancer of any other nutrient, including vitamin D! As noted by Dr. William LaValley—one of the leading natural medicine cancer physicians whom I've previously interviewed on this topic—curcumin is unique in that it appears to be universally useful for just about every type of cancer. This is odd, considering the fact that cancer consists of a wide variety of different molecular pathologies. One reason for this universal anti-cancer proclivity is curcumin's ability to affect multiple molecular targets, via multiple pathways.
Once it gets into a cell, it affects more than 100 different molecular pathways. And, as explained by Dr. LaValley, whether the curcumin molecule causes an increase in activity of a particular molecular target, or decrease/inhibition of activity, studies repeatedly show that the end result is a potent anti-cancer activity. Moreover, curcumin is non-toxic, and does not adversely affect healthy cells, suggesting it selectively targets cancer cells—all of which are clear benefits in cancer treatment. Research has even shown that it works synergistically with certain chemotherapy drugs, enhancing the elimination of cancer cells.
Curcumin Also Has Potent Antimicrobial Activity
Curcumin can also help you maintain a healthy digestive system, and may be useful against health issues caused by the bacterium Helicobacter pylori (H.pylori), such as gastritis, peptic ulcer, and gastric cancer. H. pylori is thought to affect more than half of the world's population, and has been identified as a Group 1 carcinogen by the World Health Organization.21 Traditionally, H. pyloriinfections are treated with antibiotics, but with rising drug resistance, such treatments are becoming increasingly threatened.
The good news is, curcumin may be a viable alternative. According to a 2009 study,22 curcumin has been shown to effectively stop the growth of H. pylori in vitro, regardless of the genetic makeup of the strains. In mice, curcumin "showed immense therapeutic potential against H. pylori infection as it was highly effective in eradication of H. pylori from infected mice as well as in restoration of H. pylori-induced gastric damage," the researchers noted.
Suggestions for Using Curcumin Therapeutically
While turmeric is readily available in the spice section of any grocery store, it's important to realize that if you're looking for clinical results, it's not enough to simply use turmeric in your cooking. The turmeric root itself contains only about three percent curcumin concentration, and curcumin is poorly absorbed by your body to boot. When taken in its raw form, you're only absorbing about one percent of the available curcumin. Even in supplement form it's unlikely to provide the results shown in various disease studies. If you want to use curcumin therapeutically, you can try one of the following three alternatives:
- Locate a high quality turmeric extract that contains 100 percent certified organic ingredients, with at least 95 percent curcuminoids. The formula should be free of fillers, additives, and excipients (a substance added to the supplement as a processing or stability aid), and the manufacturer should use safe production practices at all stages: planting, cultivation, selective harvesting, and then producing and packaging the final product. Typical anticancer doses are up to three grams of good bioavailable curcumin extract, three to four times daily.
- Make a microemulsion using raw curcumin powder. Combine one tablespoon of the powder with 1-2 egg yolks and a teaspoon or two of melted coconut oil. Use a high speed hand blender to emulsify it. Keep in mind that curcumin is a very potent yellow pigment that can permanently discolor surfaces, so take precautions to avoid "yellow kitchen syndrome."
- Boil the curcumin powder. Another strategy that can help increase absorption is to put one tablespoon of the curcumin powder into a quart of boiling water. It must be boiling when you add the powder as it will not work as well if you first put it in room temperature water and then heat the water and curcumin. After boiling it for 10 minutes you will have created a 12 percent solution that you can drink once cooled. It will have a woody taste. The curcumin will gradually fall out of solution however. In about six hours it will be down to a six percent solution, so it's best to drink the water within four hours.