Turmeric (Curcuma longa), a reputed member of the family Zingiberaceae, is known for its multiple benefits ranging from medicines to food. It is extensively used as a food preservative, spice, and coloring agent in India, China and South-East Asia. Turmeric comes from the root of the Curcuma longa plant and has a tough brown skin and a deep orange flesh. This herb has a very good taste and aroma. Its flavor is peppery, warm and bitter while its fragrance is mild yet slightly reminiscent of orange and ginger, to which it is related.
The plant is also considered as auspicious and is a part of religious rituals. The rhizome is a rich source of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, minerals and essential oils. Curcumin, one of the components found in turmeric is anti inflammatory, antibacterial, antioxidant, chemopreventive, anticoagulant, anti-mutagenic, anticoagulant, diuretic, depurative, antidiabetic and antifungal in nature.
Curcumin has emerged as a potent multimodal cancer-preventing agent that targets various causative factors involved in cancer development. It intervenes at each stage in the complex sequence of cancer development, progression, invasion, and ultimately metastasis to healthy tissues. Curcumin also synergizes with standard chemotherapy drugs, helping to boost their efficacy and potentially reduce the dose of toxic chemotherapy products, minimizing needless harm and suffering for cancer patients.
The anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and gene-regulating mechanisms of curcumin have yielded compelling results in combating a remarkably broad array of cancers, including those of the breast, uterus, cervix, prostate and GI tract. A burgeoning body of research demonstrates curcumin’s potential to counter cancers of the blood, brain, lung, and bladder as well. Curcumin is also emerging as a potentially effective intervention for pancreatic cancer- one of cancer’s most lethal and aggressive forms.
Turmeric is used as a spice in Indian kitchens, as well has various medicinal and therapeutic uses. Owing to its aroma and coloring property, powdered or grated form of turmeric is used in food preparations.
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