In the Indian tradition, the staple diet of curry has been valued for more than a millennium as an aid to good health and well-being. The most prized spice being an orange root vegetable, a tuber, we know as turmeric and a known anti-inflammatory treatment. The scientific community have long known of turmeric’s efficacy in preventing and treating cancer, blood sugar disorders like diabetes, multiple sclerosis, cystic fibrosis, cardiovascular disease, neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease and stroke.
For example, the incidence of prostate cancer amongst men in India is one of the lowest in the world, with about 5 to 9.1 men developing this cancer per 100,000 each year, yet, in the United States it is about 110.4 men per 100,000. Sadly, the rate is even higher among African-American men.
If turmeric is so good, why hasn’t it hit the headlines? Well, the active part of turmeric, a group of compounds known as curcuminoids, simply known as curcumin, make up only between 2% and 5% of the eatable tuber. This low percentage of curcumin would only become clinically effective for those with a lifetime of eating curries as their daily diet. Concentrated curcumin supplements are now readily available, but still fall short of being effective with only 50% to 60% being absorbed. Scientists have been looking for a more bioavailable form of curcumin to reach a clinically effective dose and found it in a compound named BCM-95® with a stunning 96% of the supplement being absorbed through normal digestion.
Scientists at the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 2007 showed that curcumin suppressed a protein known as MDM2 and inflammation inducing NF-kB which are associated with the formation of cancerous prostate cells. This same team of scientists also showed that curcumin caused prostate cells to produce another protein that is needed for apoptosis, the programing of cells to die at the right time, or when damaged, rather than become immortal cancer cells.
It is through apoptosis that all the cells of our body are replaced by new and healthy cells. Every group of cells is entirely replaced every few days for some types of cells or even over a period of more than a decade for other types. Supporting your body with the right nutrition and, when needed, with supplements, is vital to repairing daily wear and even improving your state of health.
In the lab and in five Phase I clinical trials, curcumin has shown great promise treating colon cancer and with few side effects it is proving a powerful treatment in combination with other conventional treatments. Phase II trials of curcumin treating colon cancer are underway, and trials treating breast cancer are even more remarkable. Italian researchers are reporting that curcumin can treat a mutant line of cells that is resistant to common chemotherapy drugs. The Italian research indicates that curcumin is equally effective in both resistant and non-resistant cancers, including a type of multi-drug-resistant leukemia cell, and that in the future curcumin may also be used as molecular carrier to deliver a combination of other drugs to resistant strains of cancer. The possibility of using curcumin as a drug delivery system may also open the door for targeted treatments for inflammatory, viral, bacterial and fungal diseases.