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Is Curcumin The Spice Of Life Just Discovered?

Apr 1, 2008
The touch of bright yellow that you see in your curry comes from turmeric, a spice that has been beloved by Asian cooks for centuries. Turmeric, especially in its curcumin form, gives the golden tinge of color to the market of supplements, with sales of turmeric-based items climbing 35% in one year. The commercial interest for this extract is built on a solid research base, consisting of many ongoing trials being conducted by the National Institutes of Health.

No one would have expected this herb would have one of the most unique properties of any herb in the supplement world. However, healers in India aren't too surprised with this finding, as turmeric, known as haldi, is a household remedy for cuts and coughs, is used in traditional medicine to reduce inflammation and ease digestive problems, and is used as a skin beautifier in their country. Western researchers have found that turmeric can help to fight a variety of diseases, specifically cancer.

When people realized that India's rates of prostate, colorectal, and lung cancer were among the lowest in the world, scientists became interested by turmeric's properties. There are a number of possible factors for these low rates including many Indians being vegetarians for religious beliefs, leaving their diet rich in fiber and phytonutrients. But it is thought that the main contribution of these low rates is the number of India's signature spices, specifically turmeric, which helps to keep cancer in check. In laboratory experiments, turmeric, specifically curcumin, which is the herb's primary pigment, is able to affect almost every tumor biomarker. Researchers at the University of Alabama concluded that curcumin repressed prostate cancer cells from expressing a protein that is linked to tumor formation.

Turmeric also increased a protein that is linked to natural cell death. Other studies found that curcumin blocked the production of substances that speed up the spread of colorectal and pancreatic cancer cell, inhibited the ability of malignant tumors to develop their own blood supply, and counteracted HPV, the main cause of cervical cancer. Additionally, science has confirmed that traditional medicine's view of turmeric as a valuable inflammation fighter. This is important because chronic, low-level inflammation has been found to promote cancer development.

Since inflammation has been linked to a variety of disorders, this explains why curcumin has shown a healing touch for so many conditions. For example, studies on arthritic rats that were given turmeric extract showed less joint inflammation and cartilage destruction. One of curcumin's best usages can be found in its ability to protect the brain. A study on healthy older Asians who ate the most curry found to have the smallest risk of mental decline. This finding helps to explain why some scientists believe that curcumin can help to protect people against Alzheimer's disease.

The traditional role of curcumin in digestive relief has also been proven in many studies. Curcumin not only kills the germ that produces stomach ulcer formation, but it also helps keep ulcerative colitis in remission and fights giardia, a main suspect in intestinal infections. Used topically, curcumin even has the ability to repel mosquitoes and black flies. With all these benefits discovered and more to be discovered down the road, turmeric is an herb one should take whether sick or healthy.
About the Author
More information on curcumin extract is available at VitaNet , LLC Health Food Store. http://vitanetonline.com/
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