Turmeric’s medicinal properties have been widely studied. The underground modified stem of the Curcuma longa plant when dried yields turmeric.
Traditionally, it has been used to treat skin, gastrointestinal, autoimmune, liver, eye, and other disorders. Turmeric’s medicinal properties include relief in allergies, gall bladder ailments, edema, tumors, and cataract. Its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties are used to treat inflammations and infections.
The most important chemical components of turmeric are a group of compounds called curcuminoids, which include curcumin (diferuloylmethane), desmethoxycurcumin, and bisdemethoxycurcumin. Curcumin constitutes 3.14% (on average) of powdered turmeric and gives the spice its peppery taste.
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, write, “Interestingly, curcumin at low doses can also enhance antibody responses. This 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.”
Cancerous lesions have been found to show a reduction in smell, itching, size, and pain when an ointment of curcumin (the main ingredient of turmeric) is applied (Kuttan et al., 1987).
It has further been shown that curcumin inhibits proliferation and helps kill cancer cells. These are attributed to the ability of this molecule to positively interfere with the functioning of cancer-causing genes (Bar-Sela & Schaffer, 2011).
While some trials on the anti-cancer property of curcumin have reached the human clinical trial stage, none of these have been finally concluded. No approval from USFDA for this potential medicine is yet been received.
There are a lot of scientific references to the anti-cancer properties of this herb available. These have been appended in the Bibliography available at the end and are available for ready reference here.