There’s mounting evidence that many types of foods, herbs and spices influence how the body reacts to inflammation and responds to infection. Turmeric, a cousin of ginger, is a spice derived from the leaves and roots of the turmeric plant. Recently, the spice, which adds that complex, warm, peppery flavor and golden color to curry dishes, has sparked the interest of researchers.
Studies are beginning to show that turmeric is a promising anti-inflammatory, containing high amounts of cancer fighting antioxidants. Turmeric has been traditionally used to cure a wide range of ailments including diarrhea, fever, bronchitis, colds and bladder and kidney inflammation. But recent research has implicated its ability in reducing cancer risk. Turmeric's active ingredient, curcumin, is believed to be at least partially responsible for these effects.
According to the American Cancer Society, several types of cancer cells are inhibited by curcumin in the laboratory; it has also slowed the spread of some cancers in a number of animal studies. Although additional clinical trials and studies are needed, one researcher reported that curcumin repressed the formation of cancer-causing enzymes in rodents and reduced the growth of animal tumors.
If you don't already cook with turmeric, consider curcumin as an addition to your existing supplement regimen. It can be purchased in capsule or tablet form (or, of course, whole turmeric can be purchased as a food spice). Locally, the highest quality turmeric can be found at Sunflower Farmers Market, Natural Grocers or Mountain Mama's Natural Foods. Make sure to check with your doctor for current medication compatibility before starting any new supplementation.