Benefits of Curcumin for Treating Cancer
According to worldwide statistics of 2012, more than 14 million new cases of cancer were detected in a year. More than 8 million people died due to cancer. Cancer remains one of the leading causes of death all across the world. What is more disturbing is the fact that the number of new cases are likely to increase with cancer showing no signs of slowing down. Cancer is very different from most of the disorders in the body and so is its treatment. In molecular medicine, Traditional and Complementary Medicine are being deciphered to understand their benefits and therapeutic effects. To treat cancer, modern medicine mainly uses Chemotherapy, Radiation and Surgery. At present, alternative ways of treating cancer are being explored and a very promising one is of Curcumin found in Turmeric. Numerous research studies have shown the positive effects of Curcumin on treating various types of cancer.
Turmeric and Curcumin
Turmeric is a bright orange and brown colored spice found in several forms, including powder, tea, extracts, capsules and cut root extensively in India and Indonesia. It is known for its culinary and therapeutic benefits. Curried dishes found across the globe wouldn’t have been as delicious without using this spice. Turmeric gives the curry its bright yellow or orange color and contributes to its tangy, peppery, warm, and mildly bitter taste with ginger-like fragrance. Turmeric grows from the root of a plant called Curcuma Longa, which is a member of the ginger family and is found throughout Southern Asia, even growing wild in the Himalayas. It has been cultivated in the tropical regions of Asia for more than 5,000 years. During the 13th century, Turmeric was introduced to western countries by Arab traders with its popularity spreading across the globe.
Although Turmeric is primarily a culinary spice, it’s also used like many other such spices in traditional Chinese and Indian pharmacopoeia for thousands of years. Due to its functional role, it was a cleanser, a bacteria-killer in the stomach protecting against tainted foods as well as containing powerful anti-inflammatory properties, and it was used for treating conditions such as toothache, chest pain, urinary tract infection and others.
Turmeric contains an active ingredient called “Curcumin” which is the principal Curcuminoid in Turmeric. The Turmeric root contains between 2 to 5 percent of Curcumin. Curcuminoids are polyphenols and are thought to have many health benefits. Studies have shown that Curcumin helps in preventing several forms of cancer including breast, lung, stomach, liver, and colon due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It ends the cancer development by interfering the chronic diseases’ cellular signaling aspects. Today, researchers are investigating the countless benefits of Turmeric and its effect on the prevention and treatment of cancer.
Benefits of Turmeric
Turmeric is powerful and effective against the cancer cells. The health benefits of Turmeric have only been recognised by the medical community in the past decade but Curcumin found in Turmeric, has long been used in Asian medicine to treat a variety of maladies. It has antioxidant properties which helps to reduce inflammation or swelling in the body that leads to the development of cancer. It influences a wide variety of cellular processes through the reshaping of many molecular targets. Nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB), denotes a strong mediator of inflammation and, in a many of the systems, supports the pro-proliferative characteristics of cancer cells. The application of various anticancer drugs, cytostatics, activates signals leading to an increase in the cellular NF-κB activity. As a result, cancer cells often reshape their survival by signaling pathways and becoming resistant to applied therapy over a period time.
Curcumin has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years as a cleanser of the body. It appears to work at a number of levels:
1. It can inhibit unwanted bacterial action in the stomach and intestine and make wounds heal faster
It inhibits Helicobacter pylori, a bacterium known to be responsible for stomach ulcers and some stomach cancers. In Ayurvedic medicine, it was used to kill unwanted bacteria. Curcumin causes the gallbladder to produce an increased amount of bile which may help improve digestion, lose weight by breaking down the dietary fat as well as relieve symptoms in people who have indigestion. It can be used as a natural disinfectant because of its antiseptic and antibacterial properties. It can also be used to treat psoriasis and other skin conditions.
2. It is an anti-inflammatory and a powerful antioxidant
Arachidonic acid is a precursor or stimulator of the production of bad eicosancids that causes inflammation, which itself is a precursor to certain cancers. Curcumin inhibits many of the pre-inflammatory enzymes such as COX2 and iNOS in vitro and in vivo with animals. The Turmeric extract tested is more potent than garlic, omega 3 and cat´s claw (devil´s claw) according to German research. Anti-inflammatory properties of Turmeric also helps in treating arthritic conditions. Turmeric assists in neutralising the harmful free radicals that lead to inflammation and damage of the cells of the body. Turmeric’s anti-inflammatory property removes accumulated plaque and fats in the brain, improving oxygen flow that also helps to prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
3. It boosts cellular glutathione levels and prevents liver damage
Research shows that Curcumin can prevent the action of an enzyme that limits glutathione (intracellular antioxidant) production and helps the cell in maintaining its correct oxygen level and fight the effects of stress hormones. It can also turn off a protein called Leptin, which leads to liver damage and consequently helps in detoxifying the liver and keeping it healthy specially during Chemotherapy Treatments.
4. It can regulate blood sugar
Turmeric has the ability to improve the effects of diabetic medications and helps in controlling the disease.
5. It can provide cancer treatment
All these facts, tested and confirmed in many different studies, laboratories and biological systems, have paved the way for research showcasing the potential beneficial effects of combining Curcumin and various anti-cancer drugs in order to establish more efficient and less toxic Cancer Treatments. Curcumin can help in suppressing tumour initiation, promotion and metastasis. The anti-cancer potential stems from its ability to control gene signalling, and affect a wide variety of tumour cells, down-regulate transcription factors, down-regulate enzymes like COX-2 and other inflammatories, cytokines, chemokines, cell-surface adhesion molecules, down-regulate growth factors, etc.
Prior Research Studies
Research studies have identified Turmeric as a way of preventing cancer. Increasing laboratory and animal research mention that Curcumin may help to, prevent cancer, slow the spread of cancer, make Chemotherapy more effective and protect healthy cells from damage caused by Radiation Therapy. For instance, according to the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center , rats exposed to cancer-causing substances treated with Turmeric didn’t develop stomach, colon, or skin cancers.
According to a study conducted by the University of Texas in MD Anderson Cancer Center in 2011, researchers found that the Curcumin extract effectively differentiates between cancer cells and normal cells while activating cancer cell death (apoptosis). Another study was conducted to investigate amount of Curcumin colorectal patients could safely take. In the trial, participants were given a high dosage of Curcumin (3.6 grams). Results revealed that high doses of Curcumin didn’t cause any ill effects among the colorectal patients.
Another study conducted in 2009 found that Curcumin could kill different types of cancer cells in multiple ways. Owing to the availability of more than one method, cancer cells were less likely to become Curcumin-resistant. Curcumin targets only the cancer cells and does not impact the healthy cells whereas drugs used in Chemotherapy kill both the healthy cells and cancer cells.
According to a study conducted in 2008, it is a possibility that Curcumin can help in fighting pancreatic cancer cells. In order to address this challenge, a highly bioavailable form of Curcumin, known as Theracurmin, was created to deliver higher levels of Curcumin to people with cancer without increasing chances of causing any harm. Further research is needed on people with pancreatic and other cancers to determine Theracurmin’s effectiveness.
Research conducted by Tufts on breast cancer patients points out that Curcumin and isoflavanoids inhibits the action of environmental oestrogens. On the other hand, research by UCLA (San Diego, Chauhen) mentions Turmeric’s potential in treating colorectal cancer. Furthermore, there are other clinical trials being undertaken to investigate Curcumin to treat cancer especially in people with precancerous conditions. The Emory School of Medicine shows that it attacks the Vascular Endothelial Growth Factors cutting the ability of the tumours to generate essential blood supply lines.
There are a dozen of more studies where Curcumin has caused cell death in cancer cells; and even more where it prevents tumours forming a blood supply. The use of oral Curcumin for prevention and treatment of cancer is still in its infancy even after the existence of vast biochemical knowledge.
Turmeric Dosage for Cancer
In reality, a single curry meal delivers very small amount of active Curcumin, so it needs to be supplemented. Research undertaken in Taiwan shows that even 8 gms of dosage per day for three months is safe. In one of the clinical trials conducted with colorectal cancer patients in UK given a variety of doses from 0.45 to 3.6 gms per day shows that patients had no adverse effects due to the increased dosage.
One of the issues is that both Turmeric and Curcumin do not get well absorbed into the blood stream from the gut but it is absorbed well into the colon lining, assisting in treating colon cancer. It can help in preventing prostate cancer because of its ability to interfere with the spread of cancer cells and inflammatory responses that are considered to be the precursors of cancer development.
Curcumin helps in fighting prostate cancer by lessening the expression of sex hormone receptors found in the prostate gland. Cancer fighting herbs, cancer fruits and Curcumin play an important role as herbal treatment for cancer. Absorption can be helped particularly by fats and oils, and by piperine, the active ingredient in black pepper. Piperine greatly amplifies the actions of Curcumin, thereby aiding aid absorption and action.
There isn’t any officially recommended dosage for Turmeric or Curcumin. According to discussion with, Dr. Bharat B Aggarwal, a pioneer in exploring Curcumin as an alternate treatment for various disorders in body including cancer, the dosage of Turmeric for people suffering from cancer should follow a 8 week regimen wherein for Week 1, small dosage of 1 gm Curcumin per day needs to be taken and if no side effects are observed, then proceed to dosage of 2 gm/ day for Week 2. Similarly, after checking for side effects, continue to Week 3 and Week 4-8 with dosage of to 4 gm / day and 8 gm / day respectively. Continue dose of 8 gm / day for 5 weeks. One definitely needs to consult a doctor or a health practitioner regarding cancer diet and dosing recommendations.
It is recommended to consult and discuss the regimen and any possible risks with the doctor before before adding any Curcumin supplements to the treatment plan. There may be interactions with the medications one may have been prescribed with. Also, the patient needs to stop taking Curcumin supplements 2 weeks before any surgery.
Q. Isn’t too much of Curcumin harmful?
Curcumin when taken in large dosage can cause issues if taken for a very long extended time. Studies undertaken mention that dosage of Curcumin even of 12 gms per day remains safe till 3 months.
Q. Why is a high dosage of Curcumin needed for Cancer Treatment?
To match the aggressive growth of cancer, prompt action with large dosage is vital. Since the gut has limitations with absorbing such high dosage of Curcumin, at Verita Life it is advised to administer this Herbal Medicine via IV.
Q. Can someone get this much Curcumin by taking Turmeric powder?
To get even 1 gm of Curcumin, one needs to take 25-30 gms of Turmeric powder. In case of 8 gms, one would have to take 200 gms of Turmeric powder a day, which is not possible.
Q. How should we include Curcumin in our diet on a daily basis ?
Curcumin can be taken as powder and eaten along with milk, fluids and others. For best results, it should be had with fats or black pepper as it helps to improve the bioavailability. One option could also be to skip the Turmeric and just take Curcumin supplements. Most people tolerate Turmeric and Curcumin well.
At Verita Life, Curcumin is a part of Herbal Medicine which is an important part of the Integrative Cancer Treatment Programme. The treatments overall are scientifically-proven and are designed boost the immune system of the body while targeting the cancer cells. Contact us at Verita Life for any enquiries or questions about our treatments and one of our Patient Representatives will get in touch with you shortly.