Turmeric, the yellow spice that gives curry its bright color and peppery flavor, has been revered in India and China for thousands of years for its wide range of medicinal properties.
Its active ingredient, curcumin, is arguably nature’s most powerful anti-inflammatory and has shown great promise in many studies as an anti-cancer agent —reducing tumor growth and metastases, helping stimulate cancer cells to commit suicide and enhancing the effectiveness of chemotherapy.
If you’re planning on adding turmeric to your diet, however, you can’t just rely on curry powder, with its relatively little turmeric, or pop a few turmeric tablets. If taken alone, turmeric is poorly absorbed by the gut. To cross the intestinal barrier, turmeric must be combined with fat and black pepper, which significantly increases its effectiveness.
Take turmeric supplements with meals. Because it increases the production of bile acids from the liver, it can cause diarrhea in high dosages. Sufficient fiber and calcium will help bind these acids. If you have bile duct or gallstone blockage, however, don’t take it.
To be safe, do not take turmeric supplements while you are on chemo. Recent studies in animals and test tubes show it has the capacity to interfere with the efficacy of some types of chemo (CPT-11, Adriamycin and Cytoxan).