Turmeric may both prevent and treat many diseases characterized by inflammation

January 16, 2006

Many of the floods of diseases the people of the world suffer with are due to inappropriate or exaggerated activation of genes involved with inflammation. Finding therapeutic agents that can modify the inflammatory reaction is the highest priority in medical research today. Drugs developed so far by the pharmaceutical industry are associated with both toxicity and side effects which is why a natural substance that modifies the inflammatory pathway is gaining significant interest.

Researchers at the Institute of Hepatology, University College, London Medical School reviewed 1,500 abstracts and chose 300 studies to review thoroughly on the herb Turmeric. Almost all of the studies were published recently. The results of this massive review show that Curcumin, an extract of Turmeric has been shown to be nontoxic, has antioxidant activity, and inhibits powerful mediators of inflammation including the COX-2 enzyme, NF-Kappa B, Lipoxygenase, and inducible nitric oxide synthase. Significant preventive and curative effects have been seen in animal models of a number of diseases including arteriosclerosis, cancer, diabetes, lung diseases, diseases of the liver or pancreas, intestinal and stomach diseases, neurodegenerative diseases of the brain and nervous system, and eye diseases. Turmeric or its active ingredient Curcumin has shown surprisingly beneficial effects in studies of acute and chronic diseases characterized by inflammation. There is ample evidence to support its use both for prevention and for treatment. This large review is published in the January-February 2006 issue of the Journal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition.

Commentary by Jerry Hickey, R.Ph.

Recent research with vitamin D shows that it is low in the elderly with osteoporosis and also in the elderly with hip fractures. Having sufficient vitamin D reduces the risk of falling in the elderly, reduces the risk of osteoporosis, reduces the risk of fracture, and has been shown to improve strength.

EGCG may inhibit ovarian cancer and improves the ability of Cisplatin, a chemotherapeutic drug, to fight the cancer

The major polyphenol from Green Tea, EGCG, has cancer chemopreventive activities against various forms of cancer. EGCG attacks different targets on transformed cells. In this study EGCG was tested on eight different ovarian cancer cell lines including ovarian cancer cells that were resistant to the powerful chemotherapeutic drug Cisplatin. The toxicity of Cisplatin and the development of resistance to Cisplatin are major obstacles in treating ovarian cancer.

The Scientists who are at Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia found that EGCG increased hydrogen peroxide levels in ovarian cancer cells even in those resistant to Cisplatin. EGCG increased the ability of Cisplatin to destroy the ovarian cancer cells by 300% to 600% even in cells previously resistant to Cisplatin. The researchers write that EGCG may help inhibit the growth of ovarian cancer cells and improves the ability of Cisplatin to fight the cancer by increasing the sensitivity of the cancer to the drug. The study is published in the January 9th, 2006 issue of the Journal of Cellular Physiology.