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Dr. Vikram Chauhan - MD (Ayurveda)

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Role of Curcuma Longa (Curcumin) in Cancer

CURCUMA LONGA: OVERVIEW

Curcuma longa (the ‘Haridra’ herb) is a medicinal plant -- and a rhizomatous household spice -- which has, since ancient times, been widely used as a very effective home remedy for treating a number of diseases. The dried ground rhizome of Curcuma longa is called ‘turmeric’ in English and ‘haldi’ in Hindi.

Curcuma longa has been in use for years as a hemostyptic agent, and also as a tonic, anti-diarrheal, carminative, hepatoprotective and a purifying agent. The herb also plays a crucial role in cancer management as it possesses anti-pyretic property, due to which spontaneous regressions have been reported in cancer patients with infections, fever, and bacterial lipopolysaccharoides.

In terms of Ayurveda, the description of the pharmacodynamics of Curcuma longa is as follows: Rasa - tikta and katu, Guna - rukhsha and laghu, Virya - ushna, Vipak - katu and Doshaghnata – tridoshshamak.

The great sage Charaka has given the following classification of the Curcuma longa herb:

  • Lekhaniya - a scrapping herb
  • Varnya - complexion improving herb
  • Vishaghna - anti-toxin, and
  • Kusthaghna - anti-dermatosis.

Broadly speaking, Curcuma longa has been used through the ages as a remarkable 'herbal cortisone' and 'herbal aspirin.' It is also known for relieving inflammation and discomfort linked to a wide range of infections and autoimmune diseases.

ROLE OF CURCUMA LONGA IN CANCER MANAGEMENT

Curcuma longa is a short-stemmed perennial herb (of the ginger family, Zingiberaceae), with anti-inflammatory, anti-tumour and anti-cancer properties. Since chronic inflammation is believed to be one of the main causes of cancer formation, Curcuma longa can play a very important role in the management of cancer.

Curcumin Capsules of Planet Ayurveda are packed with standardized extract of Curcumin, a principal compound of turmeric.

The noteworthy anti-cancer property of the herb is a result of the presence of ‘Curcumin’ which is the key ingredient of Curcuma longa. According to several reports, Curcumin has an excellent anti-cancer potential, and it also evidently possesses the capability of free radical scavenging activity as well as inhibition of lipid peroxidation. In addition to Curcumin, two other ingredients of Curcuma longa -- Turmerone and polysacchrides -- also play a substantial role in anti-cancer activity.

Curcumin, in particular, can suppress the tumor angiogenesis; thereby triggering the much-required regression in the tumor metastatic growth. For the benefit of patients with external cancerous lesions, the ethanol extract of turmeric, together with the ointment of Curcumin, can reportedly produce incredible symptomatic relief. Curcumin also protects the body from HPV (human papillomavirus) which is one of the chief causes of cervical cancer. Moreover, turmeric oil and turmeric oleoresin can have a therapeutic effect on the patients suffering from oral submucous fibrosis (SMF).

In proof of the effective of Curcumin in managing cancers, research in recent times has revealed that Curcumin can suppress the transformation, proliferation and metastasis of tumors. It also has proven protective and therapeutic effects against skin cancer, blood cancer, and cancers of the lung, oral cavity, pancreas and intestinal tract.

The effectiveness of Curcumin in cancer management has come to the forefront because of the consistent capability of Curcumin to inhibit (suppress/block) NFkB (nuclear transcription factor kappa beta) which plays is one of the main reasons for inflammation and has a major role in most diseases, including cancer, arthritis, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, neurological diseases (like Alzheimer's), pulmonary diseases, and autoimmune diseases.

CHEMICAL COMPOSITION OF CURCUMA LONGA

The chemical composition of Curcuma longa comprises:

  • Turmerin (a water-soluble antioxidant peptide)
  • Curcuminoids including curcumin
  • Essential oils (such as atlantones, turmerones, and zingiberene).

Curcumin has a low molecular weight. It is responsible for the yellow colour of turmeric, and forms a reddish-brown salt with alkali. It is soluble in ethanol, alkali, acetic acid, ketone, and chloroform.

Besides Curcumin, the other constituents of Curcuma longa include:

  • Minerals (3.5%)
  • Fat (5.1%)
  • Protein (6.3%)
  • Carbohydrates (69.4%)
  • Moisture (13.1%).

ANTI-CANCER PROPERTY OF CURCUMA LONGA

In a nutshell, the mechanisms via which Curcuma longa gets its anti-cancer property are:

  • Anti-oxidant property
  • Anti-mutagenic activity
  • Free radical scavenging activity
  • Blocking of NFkB.

In terms of anti-cancer action, Curcumin -- and turmeric oil -- has attracted a lot of attention in recent times because of its ‘chemoprevention’ potential. The term ‘chemoprevention’ can be defined it as a ‘preventive modality’ which involves the use of natural or synthetic agents for stopping, slowing down, reversing or preventing the development of cancer.

The 'chemoprevention' potential of the Curcumin ingredient in Curcuma longa herb is largely based on the easy accessibility of the herb, along with its safety of use, mechanism of action, and multi-targeted anticancer effects. As a result of its 'chemoprevention' potential, Curcumin can be extremely beneficial for the improvement and enhancement of the quality of life of cancer patients.

Chemopreventive agents are categorized into three different subgroups, on the basis of their mode of action. Due to Curcumin's multiple mechanisms of action, it belongs to all the three subgroups of Chemopreventive agents, namely: Antioxidants, Antiproliferatives, and Carcinogen-blocking agents.

CURCUMIN: A COMPLEMENTARY ALTERNATE MEDICINE FOR CANCER CARE

Based on the implication of experimental data, it is apparent that Curcuma longa's Curcumin ingredient has proven benefits associated with each of the following three stages of cancer --- promotion, progression, and metastasis.

The beneficial effects of Curcumin at each stage of cancer are mediated through its ability to regulate diverse transcription factors, growth factors, protein kinases, inflammatory cytokines, and other enzymes.

The various notable aspects due to which Curcuma longa/Curcumin can be considered as a complementary alternate medicine for cancer care include:

  • For supplementing anti-cancer treatment
  • For reducing pain and complications related to cancer
  • For reducing side-effects of radiotherapy and chemotherapy
  • For preventing metastasis of cancer.

CONCLUSION

In the opinion of researchers, the anti-cancer properties of Curcuma longa make it one of the most important herbs which can be considered as an effective complementary and alternative medicine for the management and prevention of cancer, especially in India, from both basic and clinical perspectives. To sum up, the Curcumin constituent of Curcuma longa is an important polyphenolic compound which can effectively suppress, delay, or reverse cancer, one of the foremost causes of death in the world.

Planet Ayurveda recommends Cancer Care Pack for Cancer patients. Our Cancer Care Pack helps in fighting various types of cancer. The Cancer Care Pack has a combination of different herbs which work together in an optimal manner to fight cancer at the cellular level. This combo pack contains effective herbal remedies and classic herbs which support and strengthen the individual’s body to fight against the cancer affected areas. Read more...

Cancer Care Pack


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Dr. Vikram Chauhan