Indian Spice Turmeric Prevents & Cures Cancer, Alzheimer’s: Fact Check


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Indian Spice Turmeric Prevents and Cures Cancer and Alzheimer's Disease

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Turmeric Prevents and Cures Cancer and Alzheimer’s Disease:

Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a powerful antioxidant Indians often use in their daily food, and therefore cancer does not really occur in India. And the Masala (Indian curry) is the reason why there are hardly any cases of Alzheimer in India.

Fact Check:

Some messages in circulation online claim the Indian spice Turmeric (Curcuma longa) prevents and cures Cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. They also call it the reason why the diseases are not prevalent in India. So, let us examine in detail the health beneficial extent of Turmeric.

About the Indian Spice Turmeric for Cancer & Alzheimer’s

Turmeric is a spice derived from a plant called Curcuma longa and is commonly used in India. Turmeric contains a variety of bioactive substances known as curcuminoids. The most active component in it is Curcumin, an orange-yellow volatile oil including three curcuminoids œturmerone, atlantone, and zingiberene. Curcumin, an effective antioxidant protects our body’s cells from the damage from free radicals, i.e. activated oxygen molecules.

Studies show Curcumin has antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal properties. Curcumin is thought to decrease swelling and inflammation, acting as an important role in a cancer treatment. Laboratory studies have shown curcumin interferes with many other important molecular pathways involved in cancer development, growth, and spread.

Laboratory Tests on Turmeric for Cancer

Some laboratory tests and research done on animals suggest curcumin may prevent cancer, slow down its spread, make chemotherapy more effective and also protect healthy cells from damage due to radiation therapy. Animal tests combining both chemotherapy and curcumin were found to be “100 times” more effective than either on their own, while treating bowel cancer. Curcumin blocked colon cancer in rats, and the studies suggest it may also suppress the development of colon cancer cells in humans.

Illustrative image of Cancer cells

Turmeric is proved to reduce the severity of pancreatitis-associated lung injury in mice. It is believed, it may even prevent skin cancer. Further studies are being conducted for the possibility of its use in other types of cancer. When combined with cauliflower, turmeric has been shown to prevent prostate cancer, breast cancer and melanoma from spreading. This combination also can help stop new cancers from growing.

Health Benefits of Turmeric with its Curcuminoids

Research shows turmeric along with its curcuminoids and other phytochemical contents has a number of health benefits like:

  • Good antioxidant activity similar to vitamin C, vitamin E, and superoxide dismutase.
  • Anti-inflammatory activity which is comparable to steroidal and nonsteroidal drugs.
  • Anticancer properties influencing all stages of cancer formation: initiation, promotion, and progression.
  • Protects cardiovascular system lowering serum cholesterol and inhibiting platelet aggregation.
  • Protects liver through many mechanisms.
  • In vitro and in vivo studies show curcuminoids can help with HIV in a number of ways. Studies suggest they act as biological response modifiers resulting in significant increase in CD-4 and CD-8 counts, a measure of immunity levels in a HIV infected person.

It is a fact colon (large bowel) cancer is much less common in India and also in UK, where intake of curcumin is high. Research on curcumin in humans is still in the early stages. Clinical trials are under way to investigate if curcumin can be a definite remedy for cancer prevention and treatment. So, it is important to check with an experienced doctor before using this herb for cancer treatment.

Turmeric for Alzheimer’s, Type of Dementia

Coming to the Alzheimer’s disease, a type of dementia, studies show eating curry containing turmeric once or twice a week can prevent Alzheimer’s disease and may also be useful in treating the people who are already suffering from it. Research done on mice shows that the curry pigment curcumin slowed down the formation and also destroyed accumulated plaque deposits in their brains. These plaques that build up in the brain affect the electrical signals between brain cells and lead to the symptoms of Alzheimer’s dementia.

Illustrative image of Alzheimer's Disease

Researchers also believe that the curry’s powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties make it a very attractive for possible treatment of diseases like Alzheimer’s, cancer, and even heart disease.

Yes, it is also a fact that the rate of Alzheimer’s disease in India is one of the lowest in the world, but this alone can not be attributed to the use of Indian spice curry as a dietary staple. According to the Alzheimer’s and Related Disorders Society of India, in the year 2010, the total number of Alzheimer cases were around 50-75% of the total 3.7 million dementia cases, and these numbers are also expected to double in 2030. Also, it is important to note that the turmeric powder used in household is made by boiling the original Turmeric root, and then drying and making it into powder, which reduces its nutrient intensity; while turmeric in its original root form has been long used in Chinese, Indian traditional and regular medicine for treating wide variety of conditions.

Varieties of Turmeric and Benefits

There are approximately 30 recognized varieties in the type of Curcuma in which turmeric belongs. Some popular Indian varieties among them are Amalapuram, Armour, Dindigam, Erode, Krishna, Kodur, Vontimitra, P317, GL Purm I and II, RH2 and RH10.

In India most of the household turmeric used is of dried cured variety, however, the ‘Erode’ variety is the best and more popular among them. In India and Malaysia, it is a common custom of applying turmeric paste directly onto the skin. The practice is now under study for possible prevention of skin cancer. When applied to wounds, the root of fresh turmeric can speed up the healing process. It acts like a natural antiseptic and antibacterial. The Chinese use turmeric as an antidepressant. Other medicinal uses of turmeric include as a natural treatment in Liver detox, Arthritis and Psoriasis.

To Conclude

The conclusion is the two diseases Alzheimer’s and Cancer are having some sort of interaction with Turmeric. This is especially true in case of medically approved turmeric of fresh variety as it contains maximum curcuminoids. However, it is a hoax to say using turmeric alone in Indian curry can prevent or cure the diseases and it is the reason behind less cancer and Alzheimer cases in India.

It is also important to note, when you use the fresh variety of turmeric as medicinal spice in food, the correct dosage is not determined. It can not be used daily, as excess dosage of it can create problems. Also, the common turmeric is to be used with caution as it can lead to few complications in some people. You can read the information about possible interaction of turmeric here. The best advise while using turmeric as herb is to consult a registered doctor and seek proper prescription.

Hoax or Fact:

Partially Hoax.

References:

Turmeric – Preliminary medical research
Turmeric and Cancer
Cancer less common in India
Turmeric – Anti-inflammatory
Research on Curcumin for Alzheimer’s disease
Turmeric and Alzheimer’s Disease
Dementia report – Alzheimer’s and Related Disorders Society of India
Turmeric – Supra health
Turmeric varieties


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Prashanth Damarla
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