Updated: June 13, 2017 | 13:08
Turmeric has an extensive fan base among those who enjoy traditional Indian food, but also a growing number among cancer patients. The spice has been used for hundreds of years in south Asia for its powerful anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antiviral properties.
Because of these qualities, they provide a more multifaceted approach to treating illness. Modern researchers are digging through its extensive pantry to see if turmeric can be used to help defend people against an enemy that is now responsible for over one sixth of all deaths worldwide.
Rummaging Through A Thousand Year Old Medicine Cabinet For New Tricks
The interest in turmeric’s anti-cancer potential has sparked an increasing flood of research over the past few years, looking into its effects in defending the body against infection, cancer, dementia, acne, and a long list of 560 other diseases. Its greatest impact occurs where it can be directly applied, as to the skin or digestive tract.
Eating To Starve Cancer
Earlier research indicates that when turmeric is used, the efficacy of chemotherapy in destroying cancer cells increases dramatically. Most studies concerning cancers have been done using rats, for ethical reasons, but in one year, over 60 clinical trials about the effects of turmeric on as many medical conditions were active. Even without chemo treatment, turmeric is shown to deny tumor tissue access to the vascular system by stunting epithelial tissue growth. Tumors are starved without a blood, oxygen, and nutrient supply.
Multiplying, Not Adding, Treatments
Researchers have begun a study to investigate the impact that the spice could have on the prognosis of patients with advanced bowel cancer. They are further investigating the finding that turmeric can help the chemo treatment more aggressively destroy cancer cells. One of the chemicals that they’re focusing on, Curcumin, appears to increase the sensitivity of cancer cells to the chemo.
In the case of bowel cancers, once the cancer has spread to other parts of the body, a significant number of patients do not respond to chemo treatments. Chemo therapy isn’t a health-positive treatment and puts the body into the firing line, but when the body is in mortal danger anyway, the cost becomes one that many people are willing to accept. However, because the toll which chemo has on the cancer cells is also being applied to the healthy ones, the negative effect (vomiting, weakness, fatigue) takes a toll and greatly limits the number of treatments that a patient can withstand. The use of turmeric can help people make the most impact with each treatment, improving their chances of survival, and potentially limiting the need for as many rounds of chemo.