Turmeric Immune Beverages
For most patients, I prescribe one-half teaspoon of turmeric to be taken with one gram of vitamin C and three to five ounces of organic vegetable juice or plain water once or twice a day on four to five days a week. I consider the combination of turmeric and vitamin C as one of the safest, least expensive, and most effective oxystatic therapy.
My interest in turmeric, the source of curcumin, was sparked many years ago when my wife told me that curries cooked with turmeric keep much longer than those prepared without it. Then I recalled taking 1/3 to 1/2 teaspoon of powdered turmeric with a cup of milk three to four times a day. It was a preferred therapy for common viral infections of the upper respiratory tract in Pakistan. Today I do not recommend taking turmeric with milk—organic vegetable juice works better.
Turmeric has been used for the treatment of cancer (and many inflammatory and degenerative disorders) in Ayurveda and in traditional Chinese medicine since antiquity. My colleagues at the Institute and I have validated the empirical findings of the ancients concerning the effectiveness of those two remedies in many clinical disorders. In November 2005, I came across a paper written by the distinguished professor, Bharat B. Aggarwal and his colleagues at the Cytokine Research Laboratory of The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. They reported that curcumin—an active ingredient of turmeric—exerts its beneficial effects by changing the activities of a broad range of biologic mediators of inflammatory and healing responses. The important bioactive substances in turmeric and ginger include those involved with:
1. Oxygen homeostasis;
2. The death of cancer cells by a process called apoptosis;
3. enzymes of crucial importance in the immune system;
4. The metabolism of essential fatty acids; and
5. Various other healing responses.
It pays to be aware of the cost of packaging. I did not realize the enormous differences in the cost of various packaged spices. That changed when I checked the prices of the turmeric and ginger bought at grocery stores against those purchased in capsule form from health food stores. Below, I present what I discovered:
Turmeric Cost Issues
Turmeric powder 200-grams box for $1.50
400-grams bottle for $2.50
Turmeric caps $24 for 120 caps (450 mg in a capsule)
For the suggested daily dose of 1/2 teaspoon twice daily (total dose 4,000 mg), the powder cost six cents, whereas an equivalent amount of the spice purchased as capsules from a health food store cost $2.40.
I might point out here that not all valuable nutrient factors can be used in their raw form. Let us take, for example, the intake of vitamin C via oranges. A 100-gram orange contains 53 mg of vitamin C but it also contains 10.6 grams of sugar. Thus, taking 530 mg of vitamin C by eating oranges will also bring in 106 grams of sugar. That amount of sugar is totally unacceptable regardless of any clinical benefits the 530 mg of vitamin C might have for any given person.
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.
Begin Low, Move Slow
I close this brief essay on turmeric on an important note: Begin low, move slow. This is always a good precaution. Even though I have not encountered any negative effects to my recommendation, I still urge readers to test this therapy with one-fifth the recommended dose and then slowly increase the amounts.