Some time ago, I received a letter from a reader inquiring about the use of Turmeric, a spice often used in Asia as a medicinal. Thinking back to the days in the nineteenth century, when charlatans were selling “Snake Oil” for the treatment of every known ailment and some that were not yet known, I advised her that I would check into the matter and let her know if and when further information became available.
Now, after reviewing medical world literature on Turmeric and Curcumin, my attitude has changed and I now believe that there is great value in further research directed toward understanding just how Turmeric, derived from the root of the Curcuma Longa plant can be beneficial in the treatment of so many different diseases and conditions. This bright yellow orange spice, Turmeric has been used as an anti-inflammatory in China and India throughout recorded history.
It is from Turmeric that the yellow orange pigment Curcumin is extracted, which has emerged as the actual anti-inflammatory pharmacological agent of Turmeric. What is really amazing is how many disease processes in how many different organ systems are related to and originate as an inflammatory process. Experimental research on treating all these conditions is well under way in many famous medical centers and research facilities in the USA as well as around the world. Consider that inflammatory diseases such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, the arthritic diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, cystic fibrosis, cancers of the colon, breast, lung, pancreas, bladder, prostate, and skin including melanoma, have each been linked to preexisting chronic inflammation.
Multiple myeloma, lymphoma and leukemia are actively being treated with Curcumin on an experimental basis. Using Curcumin to reduce the progression of atherosclerosis and diabetes is also under investigation. Might Curcumin be the universal anti-inflammatory?
If that’s not enough, increasing evidence is pointing to turmeric as not only lowering total cholesterol and increasing HDL (good cholesterol) but it also seems to block the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and multiple sclerosis, at least in mice. This is particularly interesting because not many molecules can cross the blood brain barrier; Curcumin does.
Finally, it is also being investigated for the possible prevention and treatment of endometriosis, pulmonary inflammation due to cadmium inhalation, brain inflammation related to aluminum ingestion, kidney inflammations, radiation exposure, and fatty liver inflammation, especially in the presence of obesity.
A recent review article from the Institute of Oncology in Zefat, Israel pointed out the promise of Curcumin not only as an anti-inflammatory but also as an antiviral, anti-fungal, antioxidant and inhibitor, preventing development of the blood supply of tumors and that’s not a complete list. Finally, from the Johns Hopkins University, the development of a new method of administration in the form of Nanoparticles (extremely small particles) of Curcumin, which they believe will be an effective treatment of chronic liver disease.
Question? Call Dr. Okun 718-241-6767