The anti-cancer effect of curcumin

For years, intensive research has been carried out on the traditional Ayurvedic medicinal plant turmeric and in particular on its secondary plant substance curcumin. As a beacon of hope in cancer therapy and a preventive dietary component against inflammatory diseases in the focus of science, the mode of action of curcumin in our immune system is now also becoming increasingly apparent. But this is not all!

Curcumin – The active ingredient in turmeric

Turmeric (bot. Curcuma longa), is known to many as an intense yellow-orange spice with a musky taste in Indian curry.

However, anyone who has so far reduced the turmeric plant from the ginger family, which originates from South Asia, to its taste and colour properties, does not do justice to its status as an important medicinal plant in the millennia-old Ayurvedic art of healing.

In Western naturopathy, turmeric is mainly known as a medicinal plant that stimulates bile flow and promotes digestion.

International studies are also looking at the health-promoting potential of turmeric. From a medical point of view, the antioxidant, anticarcinogenic and anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric extract are of particular interest, which can be used to treat various ailments such as intestinal, lung and liver diseases, inflammatory diseases, heart attacks, Alzheimer’s and cancer.

In addition to the essential oils, the bioactive secondary plant substance curcumin is considered the main active ingredient in turmeric root.

Curcumin – Natural Remedies in Cancer Therapy

Curcumin not only gives Asian spice powders their characteristic color. Enjoyed regularly, the dye contained in turmeric root is also said to unfold its healing powers.

Due to its presumed chemo preventive properties, oncology in particular is concerned with curcumin as a natural remedy in cancer therapy. Several laboratory tests with animals confirmed in particular its anti-cancer effect on the stomach, intestines, liver and skin. Even advanced metastasis formations have been proven to be reduced by curcumin.

Curcumin’s defense against potentially carcinogenic free radicals is based not least on its immune-stimulating ability. Studies have shown that the secondary plant substance has a positive effect on the cells of the human immune system by curbing the growth of so-called cytotoxic T lymphocytes. Recent research on this topic has now come across an astonishing connection between curcumin and the proliferation of an antimicrobial protein in the human immune system.

Curcumin activates antimicrobial protein

Scientists at Oregon State University announced the results of their curcumin study in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry. According to this, the secondary plant substance curcumin is said to cause a measurable increase in the protein cathelicidin in the human organism.

This protein is an antimicrobial peptide (cAMP), more precisely an organic compound of several amino acids that defend themselves against bacteria in curry mixtures and can thus prevent infections and chronic diseases.

Omega-3 fatty acids have also been studied in the past for their role in protein balance. However, it turned out that the cAMP-activating effect of curcumin is three times stronger than that of omega-3 fatty acids. Further investigations made it clear that the cAMP content activated by curcumin in the human organism continues to increase as soon as vitamin D comes into play.

Curcumin and vitamin D

Like the secondary plant substance curcumin, vitamin D also has immune-strengthening properties. The interaction of both substances, in turn, is said to lead to increased production of the cAMP peptide and accordingly mobilize resistance to pathogens. With double healing power, the antioxidant duo takes action against inflammatory processes that are considered to be the origins of various chronic diseases.

This research shows a new way for the regulation of cAMP gene expression. Regular consumption of turmeric combined with vitamin D contributes to health and can prevent infections in the gastrointestinal tract in particular, Dr. Adrian Gombart, head of the study, commented on the findings.

Future research, according to Gombart, will need to focus on how exactly curcumin and vitamin D activate the gene expression (i.e., the production of the protein based on the DNA code) of the cAMP peptide in order to potentially be used against a variety of bacteria responsible for bacterial infectious diseases such as tuberculosis ( 1 ).

For the best possible protection against bacteria, experts recommend taking 500 mg of a curcumin supplement and 2000 to 5000 IU of vitamin D daily. Transferred from the research laboratories to practical life, however, one thing can certainly be said: Enjoy dishes refined with turmeric from the Ayurvedic healing cuisine, best in a beautiful place in the sun.

Or a turmeric smoothie made from almond milk, cinnamon, vanilla, turmeric and – if desired – with fruit is also very tasty.

Curcumin

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