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A Powerful Anti-Inflammatory Agent



Multiple actions, antiinflammatory


[The yellow colour comes from polyphenolic compounds called curcuminoids]

  • Tumeric is a yellow spice used in many curries and gives mustard its yellow colour.
  • Curcumin strongly inhibits NF-κB a transcription factor that acts like a switch on DNA ‘turning-on’ genes that produce powerful inflammatory compounds such as Tumour Necrosis Factor alpha [TNFα], Interleukin-6 [IL6] and Cyclooxygenase-2 [COX-2]. [Please view the free tutorial ‘NF-κB’]
  • Curcumin helps to dampen down inflammation. Many common diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s Disease and many cancers have an inflammatory basis.
  • Remember that increasing abdominal adiposity [abdominal fat] leads to inflammatory cytokines being released which can ultimately resullt in increased CRP levels which bind on to leptin which in turn increases hunger and decreases the ability of the fat in fat cells to be metabolized.
  • Population [epidemiological] studies have linked frequent use of tumeric with a reduced rate of many cancers including breast, prostate, lung and bowel cancer.
  • One study from the University of Texas stated that It also enhanced apoptosis [apoptosis is programmed cell death - important to get rid of abnormal cells]. In a human breast cancer xenograft model, dietary administration of curcumin significantly decreased the incidence of breast cancer metastasis to the lung and suppressed the expression of NF-κB, cyclooxygenase 2, and matrix metalloproteinase-9. Overall, our results indicate that curcumin, which is a pharmacologically safe compound, has a therapeutic potential in preventing breast cancer metastasis possibly through suppression of NF-κB and NF-κB–regulated gene products”66
  • It is interesting to note that recent research has shown that areas like the lung which may have chronic inflammation due to asthma or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease [COPD] seems to attract cancer cells i.e. metastatic spread of cancer.

What you should know                    
[Main reference Higdon 2007: An Evidence-Based Approach to Dietary Phytochemicals]

  • Curcumin is poorly absorbed
  • Piperine in pepper increases absorption of curcuminoids by 1000 times68
  • Curcumin may increase gallbladder contractions in some individuals. If you have gallblader disease it may be prudent to take care with how much tumeric you consume.
  • It may cause nausea
  • Tumeric may inhibit the ability of platelets to clump together and may thus increase bleeding time and may have an additive effect in those individuals on anticoagulants.
  • Safety in pregnancy or lactation has not been established
  • Generally, tumeric is well tolerated and has been used for thousands of years in cooking.

How to incorporate tumeric in your diet

  • Dust your protein topping [fish, chicken, turkey] with a small amount of tumeric
  • Aim for 1/4 to 1/2 a teaspoonful a day
  • Always have pepper with your tumeric
  • Add the tumeric to stews or soups
  • Make curries, laksas using tumeric [don't forget the pepper]

Special Food References

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Special Food References