Medicine: Turmeric

Imagine if the pharmaceutical industry came up with a new “drug” that helped your body clear toxins from the liver by increasing the bile flow; protected your DNA against mutations from such things as toxic chemicals and ionizing radiation; chelated (removed) heavy metals such as lead and aluminum from your body; stabilized the telomeres, the proteins that control aging; was shown to be an effective preventative agent against Alzheimer’s disease; was completely non-toxic as evidenced by hundreds if not thousands of years of use, and cost less than $10 per month to use. Imagine the gratitude people would feel from having access to such a wonderful medicine.

As the following research articles show, there is just such a medicine. And rather than being discovered by the drug industry, it has been one of the main medicines and culinary items used throughout the world for literally thousands of years. The amazing medicine is turmeric, otherwise known as the coloring agent in Indian curry powder. I use turmeric probably more than any other medicine in my practice. In fact I take a teaspoon or a few capsules per day myself. I am happy to share with you some of what I have learned about this amazing plant.

You might also like to read Koohan Paik’s piece about Turmeric (with a couple of recipes) in the quarterly journal,  slow: the international herald of taste (issue n° 21, april – june 2000) in which he says: “…all plants have some relationship with the human body, and…in the shaman’s world, no plant is useless. But if there was any single piece of knowledge that Mr. Ohai made sure each student came away with, it was the importance of turmeric, the basis of all Hawaiian healing.”

I have included below a selection of papers, studies and trials that have been conducted using curcumin, the pigment from turmeric. Click on the link at Abstract to read the full abstract at the National Center for Biotechnology Information’s National Library of Medicine website,

I have had numerous requests from patients who are undergoing treatment for cancer, particularly Iscador therapy, who would like to talk with other patients about their experiences. We want to act as a conduit to put people in touch with one another so they can get more information and share stories. The focus of this  cancer discussion forum is on patients and their experiences. It will be wholly the effort of those who have an interest. I will not be involved in any way except as the initial facilitator for putting people together through a confidential email exchange. Click here for more information

Please note that this is intended for informational and educational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a doctor.

Selected Papers Abstracts link to NCBI’s National Library of Medicine PubMed site

Astrocyte production of the chemokine macrophage inflammatory protein-2 is inhibited by the spice principle curcumin at the level of gene transcription.Tomita M, Holman BJ, Santoro CP, Santoro TJ. Department of Medicine, University of North Dakota School of Medicine & Health Sciences, 501 North Columbia Road, Grand Forks, ND 58201, USA.

J Neuroinflammation. 2005 Feb 25;2(1): 8. 


Curcumin’s immunomodulating and antioxidant activities suggest that it might be a useful adjunct in the treatment of neurodegenerative illnesses characterized by inflammation. Relatively unexplored, but relevant to its potential therapeutic efficacy in neuroinflammatory syndromes is the effect of curcumin on chemokine production. Results offer further support for its potential use in the treatment of inflammatory conditions of the CNS.

PMID: 15733321

Antiangiogenic agents: studies on fumagillin and curcumin analogs.Furness MS, Robinson TP, Ehlers T, Hubbard RB 4th, Arbiser JL, Goldsmith DJ, Bowen JP.Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, 435 New Science Building, PO Box 26170, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Greensboro, NC 27402, USA.

Curr Pharm Des. 2005;11(3): 357-73.


This paper describes efforts to design and prepare fumagillin and curcumin analogs and evaluate their corresponding antiangiogenic activities.

PMID: 15723631

Curcumin induces glutathione biosynthesis and inhibits NF-kappa B activation and interleukin-8 release in alveolar epithelial cells: mechanism of free radical scavenging activity.Biswas SK, McClure D, Jimenez LA, Megson IL, Rahman I.Centre for Cardiovascular Sciences, School of Biomedical and Clinical Laboratory Sciences, University of Edinburgh, Medical School, Edinburgh, UK.

Antioxid Redox Signal. 2005 Jan-Feb;7(1-2):32-41.


This study suggests that curcumin has multiple properties: as an oxygen radical scavenger, antioxidant through modulation of glutathione levels, and anti-inflammatory agent through inhibition of IL-8 release in lung cells.

PMID: 15650394

Curcumin blocks homocysteine-induced endothelial dysfunction in porcine coronary arteries.Ramaswami G, Chai H, Yao Q, Lin PH, Lumsden AB, Chen C.Division of Vascular Surgery and Endovascular Therapy, Michael E. DeBakey Department of Surgery,

Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX 77030, USA.

J Vasc Surg. 2004 Dec;40(6):1216-22.


The objective of this study was to determine the effect of curcumin on homocysteine-induced endothelial dysfunction in a porcine coronary artery model. Results suggest a therapeutic role for dietary curcumin in patients with homocysteinemia, thereby reducing cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. Thus curcumin could be used in patients with hyperhomocysteinemia, and to prevent cardiovascular diseases.

PMID: 15622377

In vitro and in vivo anti-tumoral effect of curcumin against melanoma cells.Odot J, Albert P, Carlier A, Tarpin M, Devy J, Madoulet C. Laboratoire de Biologie Cellulaire et Moleculaire, EA 3306 U.F.R Sciences, Reims, France.

Int J Cancer. 2004 Sep 1;111(3):381-7.


In the current study, curcumin may provide a valuable tool for the development of a therapeutic combination against the melanoma.

PMID: 15221965

Curcumin inhibits telomerase activity through human telomerase reverse transcritpase in MCF-7 breast cancer cell line.Ramachandran C, Fonseca HB, Jhabvala P, Escalon EA, Melnick SJ. Department of Pathology, Miami Children’s Hospital, 3100 SW 62nd Avenue, FL 33155, USA.Cancer Lett. 2002 Oct 8;184(1):1-6. 


The inhibitory effect of curcumin, the yellow-colored pigment from turmeric, on telomerase activity was analyzed in human mammary epithelial and breast cancer cells.

PMID: 12104041

Through metal binding, curcumin protects against lead- and cadmium-induced lipid peroxidation in rat brain homogenates and against lead-induced tissue damage in rat brain.Daniel S, Limson JL, Dairam A, Watkins GM, Daya SDepartment of Biochemistry, Microbiology and Biotechnology and Faculty of Pharmacy, Rhodes University, P.O. Box 94, Grahamstown, South AfricaJ Inorg Biochem. 2004 Feb;98(2):266-75. 


This study examines the ability of curcumin (tumeric) to protect against lead-induced damage to hippocampal cells of male Wistar rats, as well as lipid peroxidation induced by lead and cadmium in rat brain homogenate.

PMID: 14729307

Protective effect of curcumin against lead neurotoxicity in rats.Shukla PK, Khanna VK, Khan MY, Srimal RC. Industrial Toxicology Research Centre, PO Box 80, MG Marg, Lucknow 226001, India. Hum Exp Toxicol. 2003 Dec;22(12):653-8.


Study to investigate the protective effect of curcumin against lead-induced neurotoxicity in rats. PMID: 14992327

Chemotherapeutic potential of curcumin for colorectal cancer.Chauhan DP.Division of Gastroenterology, Department of Medicine, The University of California, San Diego, CA 92093-0688, USACurr Pharm Des. 2002;8(19):1695-706. 


Epidemiological data also suggest that curcumin may be responsible for the lower rate of colorectal cancer in some countries and is a naturally occurring powerful anti-inflammatory medicine.Publication Types: Review, Tutorial

PMID: 12171541

The inhibition of the estrogenic effects of pesticides and environmental chemicals by curcumin and isoflavonoids.Verma SP, Goldin BR, Lin PS.Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, MA 02111 USA. Environ Health Perspect. 1998 Dec;106(12):807-12. 


A study looking at the development of dietary strategies to prevent the stimulated growth of breast tumors by environmental estrogens.

PMID: 9831541

Curcumin inhibits interleukin 8 production and enhances interleukin 8 receptor expression on the cell surface:impact on human pancreatic carcinoma cell growth by autocrine regulation.Hidaka H, Ishiko T, Furuhashi T, Kamohara H, Suzuki S, Miyazaki M, Ikeda O, Mita S, Setoguchi T, Ogawa M. Department of Surgery I, Miyazaki Medical College, Japan.Cancer. 2002 Sep 15;95(6):1206-14.


Study of the effect of curcumin on human carcinoma cell lines to determine whether constitutive interleukin-8 (IL-8) production of tumor cells was correlated with nuclear factor kappaB (NF-kappaB) activation and cell growth activity.

PMID: 12216086

Therapeutic potential of curcumin in human prostate cancer-I. curcumin induces apoptosis in both androgen-dependent and androgen-independent prostate cancer cells.Dorai T, Gehani N, Katz A. Department of Urology, Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, NY 10032, USA.Prostate Cancer Prostatic Dis. 2000 Aug;3(2):84-93. 


Study of curcumin as alternative nontoxic means of inducing the apoptosis potential in both androgen-dependent and hormone refractory prostate cancer cells.

PMID: 12497104

Antiproliferative effect of curcumin (diferuloylmethane) against human breast tumor cell lines. Mehta K, Pantazis P, McQueen T, Aggarwal BB. Department of Bioimmunotherapy, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston 77030, USA.Anticancer Drugs. 1997 Jun;8(5):470-81. 


Curcumin is a potent antiproliferative agent for breast tumor cells and may have potential as an anticancer agent. 

PMID: 9215611

Effect of bioflavonoids quercetin and curcumin on ischemic renal injury: a new class of renoprotective agents.Shoskes DA. Department of Surgery, Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, UCLA School of Medicine, Torrance, California 90509, USA.Transplantation. 1998 Jul 27;66(2):147-52. 


Study of the effects of quercetin and curcumin, two bioflavonoids, on ischemia-reperfusion in the rat.

PMID: 9701255

Effect of dietary curcumin and ascorbyl palmitate on azoxymethanol-induced colonic epithelial cell proliferation and focal areas of dysplasia.Huang MT, Deschner EE, Newmark HL, Wang ZY, Ferraro TA, Conney AH. Department of Chemical Biology and Pharmacognosy, College of Pharmacy, Rutgers University, Piscataway, NJ 08855-0789. Cancer Lett. 1992 Jun 15;64(2):117-21.


Study of curcumin and ascorbyl palmitate as antioxidants and as potent inhibitors of tumor promotion in mouse skin.

PMID: 1611594

Curcumin as an inhibitor of cancer.Nagabhushan M, Bhide SV. Carcinogenesis Division, Cancer Research Institute, Bombay, India.J Am Coll Nutr. 1992 Apr;11(2):192-8. 


Study of the effect of curcumins on different stages of development of cancer.

PMID: 1578097

Curcumin attenuation of acute adriamycin myocardial toxicity in rats.Venkatesan N. Department of Biochemistry, Central Leather Research Institute, Madras, India.Br J Pharmacol. 1998 Jun;124(3):425-7. 


The protective effect of curcumin on acute adriamycin (ADR) myocardial toxicity in rats.

PMID: 9647462