tumeric chinese herbs

Turmeric for Osteoarthritis, an Indian and Chinese Herbal Tradition

This chinese herbal remedy helps osteoarthritis If you or someone you know suffers with arthritis, Turmeric is a Chinese herb you have probably heard about but not sure if it will work for you. Turmeric is what gives that yellow color to Indian food, this root has been used for centuries in Indian food and traditional remedies.  The yellow color, often in curry sauces comes from the active compounds known as curcuminoids, or mainly curcumin. 

A recent clinical trial in Italy studied the effects of curcumin on 50 patients with osteoarthritis in the knees.  The effects of supplementing ones diet with this Chinese herb was impressive.  The patients that took the turmeric supplement had a 16 fold decrease of inflammation markers in their blood.  If that wasn’t enough, these same patients were able to reduce their NSAID’s (Non-Sterodial Anti-Inflammatory) usage by 63%.   Remarkable, and these benefits occurred without unintended side effects.  Yes, that is the magic of mother nature and this data is consistent with other human studies done of various types of turmeric extracts. 

“This is great news for people who suffer from osteoarthritis and the physicians who treat them,” said Mark Blumenthal, Founder and Executive Director of the nonprofit, American Botanical Council an independent herbal medicine research and education organization in Austin, Texas.

So, what is this Chinese herb and how does it work?  First and foremost,  the active ingredient curcumin has been extensively studied around the world.  It has been used for thousands of years in both Ayurveda Medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine.  It is the root of the turmeric plant  that is used for herbal remedies. Chinese herbal medicine has always classified turmeric as a blood moving herb, interestingly it also has properties to clear heat from the blood,  break up blood stasis and benefit the gall bladder and help jaundice, most likely because it stimulates bile production.

Turmeric’s popularity has been rising quickly as its reputation for treating chronic inflammatory diseases, some cancers and also Alzheimer’s disease get more media attention.  In 2009 sales of turmeric dietary supplements were up about 23% from the previous year.  This is understandable, who wouldn’t want a safe, effective herbal supplement  to reduce the suffering of osteoarthritis?  Pacific Herbs uses turmeric to a combination of herbs to move blood and reduce pain.  Many of these herbs have been historically used together to reduce pain and improve blood flow. The Pacific Herbs product is called Corydalis Pain Relief Herb Pack and can be found here.

Pharmaceutical labs have been trying to chemically copy the chemical bonds of curcumin for years but it never seems to have exactly the same effect.  When turmeric is used as a whole herb, all the important and beneficial compounds of the plant are present. Science has not yet been able to copy this mix exactly to mimic the same effects.

More studies on curcumin can be found on Pubmed.com and from Dr. Weill here.

What’s Curcumin Got to Do With Breast Cancer?

Breast Cancer has been spreading faster than wildfire for over three decades.  A new discovery recently published explains how the Chinese herb Curcumae Radix, can possibly help prevent breast cancer and can be used for breast cancer therapy.

Top doctors are studying breast cancer treatments around the clock and yet there is little  in the way of PREVENTIVE strategies.  The reasons are complicated but it may be partly due to the fact the breast cancer is not one disease.  There are several different types of cancer cells which all cause breast cancer, some are more aggressive while others spread slower.   To understand which cancer cells a patient has, doctors must analyze the cells individually. Once this is determined, treatment options can be customized, including herbal treatments for breast cancer.

The recent study from the University of California, San Diego,  published in the British Journal, Nature, has discovered a molecule called RANKL, found in aggressive breast cancer cells that predicts more deadly, lethal and life threatening disease.  The findings from these recent studies suggests that herbs with the correct chemicals can block RANKL and may be effective in preventing both the early stages of breast cancer and the advanced progression of the disease. Research has also shown the active ingredient in the Chinese herb, Curcumae root  (small quantities found in the spice Turmeric) has properties that also reduce the expression of these deadly molecules within cancer cells and can potentially slow the spread of breast cancer.

This new research demonstrates that when a  protein molecule called RANKL (Receptor Activated Nuclear Factor Kappa Ligand) is present in breast cancer cells in high amounts, these tumor cells are more activated, more aggressive, more likely to spread and more likely to kill.  RANKL is produced by regulatory T-Cellsthat modulate our immune response.  High levels of these T-cells means high levels of RANKL, high levels of inflammation and aggressive high risk disease.

Dr. Bharat Aggarwal, Ph.D. Professor, Department of Experimental Therapeutics, Division of Cancer Medicine, The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX is one of many respected researchers and experts who has published many studies on the effects of curcumin on cancer cells.  According to Dr. Aggarwal

“Curcumin has a very special nature which will work both for cancer prevention as well as for cancer therapy.”

Turmeric (Curcuma longa or Curcumae radix) is one of the most potent cancer fighting foods. Curcumin, the active ingredient in this common medicinal and culinary herb has been widely studied.  It is recognized as a potent cell protectant, anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory agent.  Turmeric has been used for centuries to support cancer patients in Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine and Indian Ayurvedic Medicine.  Now modern science demonstrates why it works.  Curcumin has been shown to influence many cellular factors, including lowering RANKL.

Blocking tumor promoting RANKL can block the spread of breast cancer cells to other parts of the body.  This new information gives women hope that using the natural substance, Curcumin can be used as a preventative, and can lower inflammation, lower RANKL, thereby lowering breast cancer risk.

As with any potent botanical medicine or Chinese herbal medicine, the use of curcumin should be used under the supervision of a knowledgeable licensed Acupuncturist and herbalist or other licensed professional.  Countries such as India use turmeric  frequently in their daily diet and have lower rates of many cancers including prostate cancer, breast cancer and colon cancer.  Turmeric can be safely added to your food as a cooking spice to add anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and anti-cancer properties to your daily diet.

Disclaimer: Please consult a physician before making any decisions regarding breast cancer treatment.

See the study at the link below.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16219905  Curcumin (diferuloylmethane) down-regulates expression of cell proliferation and antiapoptotic and metastatic gene products through suppression of IkappaBalpha kinase and Akt activation.

Also check out this link at the Linus Pauling Institute research on curcumin for breast cancer.   http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/phytochemicals/curcumin/

More helpful links on Curcumin: ” Curcumin for Prevention of Colorectal Neoplasia”   American Botanical Council               http://cms.herbalgram.org/herbclip/442/091152-442.html

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