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Animal research, Health

04 - 12 - 2015

The scientific opinion on Turmeric

Ubiquitous to Indian cuisine, turmeric is also used in traditional Asian medicine to alleviate digestive and inflammatory disorders. But what to researchers say ? Studies in mice have shown that curcumin reduces the risk of forming cancerous metastases. However, the benefits of turmeric in humans still need to be proven.




Curcuma longa


Turmeric, a versatile spice

Native to southern Asia, turmeric or “Yellow ginger” is very popular in Indian cuisine and is used to make their famous curry. Turmeric is also used in Chinese and Indian traditional medicine to alleviate digestive and inflammatory disorders.


Curcumin – the main pigment in turmeric – is thought to be the active compound that acts against cancer cells. Curcumin is also used in the European Industry as a  natural dye and food additive under the name E100.


Its effects in vitro and in mice


In vitro, curcumin has an antioxydant effect and promotes the programmed cell death – also called apoptosis – in cancer cells.


In 2012, german researchers have shown that curcumin decreased the risk of cancer cells spreading (metastasis) in mice. Other studies in mice have demonstrated the beneficial effects of curcumin on mouth, stomach, liver, duodenum and colon cancer cells, but not on breast cancer cells.


The clinical application of curcumin is being studied, but the substance has a low bioavailability – meaning that it has a poor ability to being absorbed and persisting in the body. The benefits of curcumin in humans still need to be proven.