You've probably heard that curry powder is a powerful antioxidant—the spice turmeric, and specifically a compound in it called curcumin, has been shown in multiple lab and animal studies to slow the growth of, and even kill, cancer cells. After reading this you probably think, like I have many times, "Gee, I should eat more Indian food, when I'm not eating more berries, cruciferous vegetables, seaweed, red wine, green tea, Brazil nuts and all those other antioxidant-packed wonder foods" (I sometimes feel full just thinking about the list of cancer-fighting essential foods I'm supposed to be eating every day). But it seems hard, for me anyway, to work a lot of curry powder into my diet. I am crazy about Indian food, but when I cook it at home I'm always disappointed with the results, and I can't afford a whole lot of take-out. I do love roasted cauliflower coated in curry powder, and also like to sprinkle curry on popcorn, but still, it seems that there's only so much curry a non-Indian woman can consume.
So, I was happy to talk to Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum about curcumin, because he told me a few interesting things:
- Eating curry powder probably isn't the best way to consume curcumin, because it's not easily absorbed in powdered form, when the essential oils have been stripped from it. In fact, consuming curry seems to be most effective at preventing colon cancer (compared to other cancers), precisely because the curcumin isn't well absorbed in the small intestine and therefore reaches the colon.
- There are two supplements, called Curamed and Curamin in the US, that allow curcumin to be easily absorbed by the body, and, obviously, allow you to reap its benefits without ordering Indian take-out for dinner every night.
- In addition to its anticancer properties, curcumin is a natural anti-inflammatory that's excellent at relieving chronic pain caused by disorders such as fibromyalgia and arthritis, according to Dr. Teitelbaum, without hurting your stomach the way some anti-inflammatory drugs can. There's also evidence that it breaks up the amyloid plaques associated with Alzheimer's.
He recommends that people suffering from chronic pain disorders take the supplement Curamin, and that those of us looking for cancer prevention and general health boosting take Curamed. Both supplements are made by Europharma, which is the only company selling this particular curcumin formulation in the United States. I should add that Dr. Teitelbaum isn't paid by Europharma (or by any drug or supplement companies) to promote their products, he just talks about them because he believes that they work and are the best quality curcumin/tumeric supplements out there.
If you suffer from fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome (and even if you don't) you should check out Dr. Teitelbaum's website, called End Fatigue, to learn more about his philosophy on conquering these illnesses.