India has among the lowest rates of prostate, breast, colon and lung cancer in the world.
Some researchers attribute these numbers to the regular consumption of a common household spice, which has also been shown to offer support for cognitive function and inflammation. The best part? Chances are, this spice may already be in your cabinet.
A cancer diagnosis can feel like a death sentence, with 1.4 million new cases of cancer per year resulting in more than 500,000 deaths per year in the U.S. While this is still a life-threatening diagnosis, new research may give hope.*
This research has scientists amazed at how a simple spice can promote healthy cell replication, and even support the health of patients undergoing chemotherapy.
This is only one small role this spice plays in promoting optimal health.* For thousands of years in Ayurveda, this common spice was used for physical pain, liver ailments, healthy skin, mental clarity, intestinal health, bile flow and fat metabolism.
Keep reading for a taste of other incredible benefits offered by turmeric, plus one super-simple tip for boosting its absorption.
Turmeric Supports Healthy Cell Replication
Recently, in the Annals of Internal Medicine, a very large study revealed that many cancers are not detected during a routine colonoscopy. What was once an insurance plan to screen for colon cancer, offering a 90 percent reduction in the risk of death, now can only afford a 60-70 percent mortality risk reduction (1). This means that, while we should still use colonoscopies as a screening tool, we have to take action to offset the risk of colon cancer in other ways as well.
In one study, curcumin, the extract of turmeric, out-performed Western drugs in supporting healthy cellular replication and repair, along with supporting natural and timely cell death, called apoptosis (2,3).
One research team wrote, “Curcumin appears to possess all of the desirable features of a desk-designed, multi-purpose drug.”
Perhaps one of our biggest concerns as we age is to somehow protect ourselves from the ravages of Alzheimer’s disease. Turmeric has at least 10 neuro-protective actions that support healthy cognitive function (5).
Because the brain is predominately fatty tissue, fat-soluble toxins may accumulate in the brain and cause damage. As a fat-soluble substance, turmeric may have an affinity for chelating (removing) fat-soluble toxins out of the deep tissues.
Turmeric crosses the blood-brain barrier, where it may attach to neurotoxins, such as beta amyloid plaque, and support healthy antioxidant activity (6).
A Healthy Inflammatory Response
Inflammation may start in the gut because of an irritated and compromised intestinal wall. The most common cause of this is most likely stress. Stress receptors line the gut and, when we are under a lot of stress, the intestinal mucous membranes produce excessive reactive mucus. This reactive mucus may compromise absorption and detoxification pathways in the gut, leading to congestion in the body’s lymphatic system, which also lines the gut.
Turmeric supports the mucosa of the gut, thins the mucus, and supports the flow of bile. In addition to breaking down nutritional fats that we need, bile is also our body’s primary immune response in the gut to emulsify toxic chemicals and other fat-soluble toxins that you may have ingested. These include heavy metals, parasites, pesticides, candida, fungi and more.
Increase Absorption of Turmeric by 2000 Percent
One of the problems with turmeric is that it is fat soluble, which makes it more difficult to absorb. That is why many of the studies have been done on curcumin, which is the extract of turmeric, and easier to absorb. So for the past ten years, much research has gone into finding ways to boost the absorption of turmeric, with some good success.
While modern herbal extracts have potent therapeutic value, it is difficult to match the blueprint of the original plant. In addition, the body may build a tolerance to an extract. Whole herbs, while not as potent as extracts, have a sustainable effect. In Ayurveda, whole herbs are combined with other whole herbs and spices to boost function, which can be as potent as today’s modern extracts.
For example, in 1998, researchers at St. John’s Medical College in Bangalore, India found that turmeric taken with black pepper—both common ingredients in curry—increased the absorption of turmeric by an astonishing 2000 percent, with no adverse effects!
What is interesting is that in India, curry powder is loaded with turmeric, peppers and other spices. Turmeric is added to many dishes in India, and during the cooking process, the turmeric is naturally extracted and concentrated. Boiling and cooking helps naturally break down the turmeric in such a way that the absorption of medicinal grade constituents, like curcumin, are greatly enhanced.
The average person in India eats about 2 to 2.5 grams of turmeric a day—that’s about four to six capsules of turmeric a day—almost every day of their lives. Interestingly, India has among the lowest rates in the world of prostate, breast, colon and lung cancer. Some researchers believe this may be due to the quantity of turmeric consumed on a regular basis.
1. Ann Intern Med. 2009 Jan 6;150(1):1-8.
2. Mol Cancer Ther. 2007 Apr;6(4):1276-82.
3. 3. Int J Mol Med. 2007 Sep;20(3):329-35.
4. AAPS J. 2006;8(3):E443-9.
5. Adv Med Biol. 2007;595:197-212.
6. Chem. 2005 feb 18;280(7):5892-901.
Editor: Brianna Bemel