Curcumin is the yellow pigment in turmeric and has been in use as medicine for centuries.
A pharmacological review was undertaken by Ammon & Wahl (1991), Jurenka (2009), and others to validate curcumin’s anti-inflammatory properties. Curcumin, the active compound in the spice, exhibits antispasmodic activity. It was seen to stimulate bile secretion in animals and help treat liver disorders.
Araujo and Leon (2001), Anand et al. (2007), and Aggarwal et al. (2009) have noted the anticancer, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and gastrointestinal actions of curcumin. It is also helpful in treating liver and other ailments.
Anticancer properties of turmeric have also been reported (Basnet et al., 2011). Jagetia and Aggarwal of the Department of Experimental Therapeutics, The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, USA, writes, “Interestingly, curcumin at low doses can also enhance antibody responses. It suggests that curcumin’s reported beneficial effects in arthritis, allergy, asthma, atherosclerosis, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and cancer might be due in part to its ability to modulate the immune system.”
Curcumin boosts the levels of BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor), a protein and brain hormone that increases the growth of new neurons and fights various degenerative processes in the brain.
Researchers from the Cancer Biology Research Center, South Dakota, claim curcumin may be an effective chemopreventive and therapeutic agent for preventing and treating cervical cancer. They found that curcumin treatment suppresses growth in cervical cancer cells by altering the HPV-associated molecular pathways. Basic research appears to validate the ability of curcumin to stop several stages of cancer.
Preclinical and phase 1 clinical trials in various cancers have shown that curcumin may prove to be useful in the chemoprevention of colon cancer in humans (Azuine & Bhide, 1994).
Phase 2 and 3 clinical trials need to be undertaken to prove the effectiveness of curcumin in helping colon cancer patients. The scientific evidence in favor of curcumin so far appears promising, but we can only be sure when these have been validated in trials.
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