Spices Disease Inflammation and Cancer
- An overwhelming amount of data indicates that curcumin, a polyphenol obtained from the Indian spice turmeric, Curcuma longa, is a potential chemopreventive agent for treating certain cancers and other chronic inflammatory diseases. 1
- Both in vitro and in vivo studies showed a promising role of curcumin as a cardioprotective agent against palmitate and high fat diet mediated cardiac dysfunction.2
- Curcumin is the major polyphenolic constituent of an indigenous herb, Curcuma longa, found to have a wide range of applications right from its kitchen use as a spicy ingredient to therapeutic and medicinal applications in various diseases. Curcumin has been identified to have a plethora of biologic and pharmacologic properties owing to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities.3
- May slow progression of mesothelioma, cancer of the lung lining linked to asbestos.4
- Curcumin, may be a successful treatment for Alzheimer’s disease
Spices have comprised the major part of the indigenous pharmacopeia — “spice medicine” seems to be a suitable name for it — throughout history in all parts of the world. Among practitioners of that art, the ancient Indians and Chinese were the most advanced. The hill that separated India and China never fully prevented discourse among the peoples of those lands. Indeed, the most highly recommended and most commonly prescribed spices (as well as plant-based remedies) in Ayurvedic medicine and traditional Chinese medicine are the same. Furthermore, Greco-Roman medicine was essentially based on the two older systems of India and China.
A community of physicians are beginning to see through the phony expertise of pseudoscientists of medicine, and are recognizing the anti- inflammatory, bowel-restorative, blood-cleansing, and liver-detoxifying characteristics of many spices. There is an explosion of studies that are delineating the biologic benefits of the various components of spices with advanced analytic technology, as I show in other articles of this series.
Why bring oxygen into discussions about the medicinal benefits of on spices? Succinctly stated, what prevents unregulated inflammation restores oxygen homeostasis which, in my opinion, is the final goal in all healing work. In that sense, all spices with anti-inflammatory benefits contribute to the correction of the oxygen disorder (the dysox state) and the restoration of oxygen homeostasis. However, there is another crucial issue here: I do not consider spice therapies to be complete treatment for any of the so-called inflammatory disorders — colitis, arthritis, vasculitis, thyroiditis, asthma, nephritis, eczema, and others. At the bioenergetic cellular level, all inflammatory, autoimmune, and neurodegenerative disorders are caused by the oxygen disorder (dysfunctional oxygen utilization) caused by cellular toxicity in the cells. In that light, I consider it a serious clinical error not to add relevant direct and indirect oxygen therapies to spice therapies as components of all integrative treatment plans.
A friend recently insisted that turmeric is an excellent anti-inflammatory but garlic is not. He also asserted that garlic is an effective antiviral food while turmeric is not. I wondered what might be the basis of those statements. In my clinical work among patients with the common cold, I find that turmeric — one- half teaspoon taken with organic vegetable juice or grapefruit juice three times a day — is far more effective than garlic. Putting that aside, my friend’s assertions raise a deeper question: Can the antiviral and anti-inflammatory effects of spices ever be separated with confidence? What is antiviral, by definition, is anti-inflammatory. What is anti-inflammatory is also antiviral when seen through the prism of oxygen homeostasis. Stated another way, every pre-existing non-physiological inflammatory process increases the pathogenicity of viruses, and every existing viral infection feeds the pathologic inflammatory response. (See the article entitled “The Dysox Model of Inflammation” in Integrative Immunology, the fourth volume of The Principles and Practice of Integrative Medicine for further discussion of this subject.)
All spices (and herbs) with empirically known benefits for digestive-absorptive disorders also have anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effects. That is easy to understand since pathological (but not physiologic) inflammation and infectious processes feed upon each other. Again, the issue of dysfunctional oxygen metabolism (the dysox state) is equally important in the treatment of both types of clinical problems.
Principles of Spice Medicine
In closing this first of my series of article on the spice medicine and oxygen, I briefly state the following important aspects of such therapies that may be considered the principles of spice medicine:
1. Mono-spice therapy in large doses but for short periods of time can be very effective for acute conditions. To cite one example, large doses of ginger are often helpful in controlling motion sickness and pregnancy-related nausea. However, continuous mono-spice therapy for extended periods of time should be avoided.
2. Poly-spice therapy — the concurrent use of spices with empirically-recognized complementary roles — is generally more beneficial for controlling acute infectious and inflammatory processes. For instance, turmeric, ginger, garlic, and cayenne (when tolerated well) can be combined for better results.
3. For chronic inflammatory and infectious disorders, mono-spice therapy should be avoided. Poly-spice therapy for such disorders yields superior results when combined with direct oxystatic therapies, such as hydrogen peroxide foot soaks (done with one part 3% peroxide and 30 parts of water with a pinch of salt added).
The discussions of the therapeutic benefits of specific spices are presented in other articles of this series.
Read more – Turmeric, Ginger and Inflammation
1. Nahar PP, Slitt AL, Seeram NP. Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Novel Standardized Solid Lipid Curcumin Formulations. J Med Food. 2014 Dec 9. [Epub ahead of print]
2. Zeng C, Zhong P, Zhao Y, Kanchana K, Zhang Y, Khan ZA, Chakrabarti S, Wu L, Wang J, Liang G.. J Mol Cell Cardiol. 2014 Oct 16;79C:1-12. doi: 10.1016/j.yjmcc.2014.10.002. [Epub ahead of print]
Curcumin protects hearts from FFA-induced injury by activating Nrf2 and inactivating NF-κB both in vitro and in vivo.
3. Jeenger MK, Shrivastava S, Yerra VG. Curcumin: A pleiotropic phytonutrient in diabetic complications. Nutrition. 2014 Jul 19. pii: S0899-9007(14)00336-0. doi: 10.1016/j.nut.2014.06.015
4. S. Dabir, A. Kluge, A. Kresak, M. Yang, P. Fu, B. Groner, G. Wildey, A. Dowlati. Low PIAS3 Expression in Malignant Mesothelioma Is Associated with Increased STAT3 Activation and Poor Patient Survival. Clinical Cancer Research, 2014; DOI: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-14-1233