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Topic summary contributed by volunteer(s): Dawn Handschuh

The spice turmeric has a long-established history as a natural medicine with disease prevention and treatment potential. We have videos on the use of turmeric for the prevention and/or treatment of certain types of cancer including cancers of the colon, pancreas, skin, mouth and vulva, as well as ulcerating breast cancer. This may be why the prevalence of cancer is significantly lower among populations that consume the most turmeric, like India. Turmeric may also help prevent type 2 diabetes, possibly by decreasing fats in the blood.

Turmeric has long been used to reduce inflammation and may be able to improve endothelial function – the ability of our arteries to relax normally. Turmeric consumption may also be beneficial for those suffering from multiple myeloma, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and Alzheimer’s.

In one study, turmeric produced a dramatic reduction in pain and fatigue among patients recovering from surgery, leading researchers to suggest it as an alternative to anti-inflammatory medications.

Certain individuals should not consume large amounts of curcumin or turmeric, including those who are pregnant or susceptible to certain types of kidney stones.

Curcumin, the yellow pigment in the spice turmeric is an ingredient in numerous supplements, but the dietary supplement industry is poorly regulated and many of these supplements don’t even contain what’s listed on the label.

While curcumin has been identified as an active ingredient in turmeric, it is only one of many active ingredients, and for this reason, those interested in diet supplementation should consume the whole spice, turmeric, rather than just curcumin.

 

Image Credit: Thanthima Limsakul © 123RF.com. This image has been modified.

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