Turmeric, the Many-Faceted Cancer-Killer

What's orange, spicy, fights prostate cancer, and whitens your teeth?

If you guessed “turmeric,” then you are better at these games then we are!

When we fist started looking into turmeric, it was because we heard that curcumin, the particle behind the spice's color and taste, is useful in the fight against prostate cancer. Little did we know everything else the plant can do!

Turmeric is the spice, grown in south Asia, that gives curry its distinctive yellow color. It has been used in India and nearby environs as a medicinal herb for thousands of years.

The main active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin, and it's a highly-effective anti-inflammatory and powerful anti-oxidant. As such, it is effective against atherosclerosis, obesity and metabolic diseases.

Curcumin can lead to improvements in endothelial function. The endothelium is the lining of your blood vessels, and its dysfunction is one of the major drivers of heart disease. One study shows that curcumin works as well as the medication Atorvastatin.

And turmeric really can whiten your teeth!

Finally, curcumin kills cancer on the cellular level, and, importantly, it kills it in a variety of ways. This is significant because the more methods available, the less likely cancer cells will become curcumin-resistant. And curcumin targets only cancer cells, leaving healthy cells unaffected – unlike chemotherapy drugs, which kill both healthy cells and cancer cells.

Turmeric may not only be useful in attacking cancer, it may also help to prevent it. In one small study out of Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, 21 patients with pancreatic cancer took 8 milligrams of curcumin daily for two months. The researchers saw that the compound inhibited tumor growth in some patients.

Another study found that curcumin may stop cancer-associated fibroblasts. These are connective tissue cells that produce collagen and other fibers which may contribute to prostate cancer.

Here's a tip: Although curcumin is the active ingredient in turmeric,  there is really not a lot to be found there – it is about 3 percent by weight. So as appealing as it may sound to spice your way to better health, you will really need to take turmeric as a supplement – about 1 gram per day, as an extract –  to really gain the benefits. We also suggest you make liberal use of black pepper in your cooking, as this contains piperine, which enhances the absorption of curcumin in your bloodstream by about 2000 percent.