Turmeric, the yellow spice in curry and yellow mustard, has an active component called curcumin. This compound is the subject of more than 7,500 studies that show it has anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer activity.

How Does Curcumin Work?

Recently scientists discovered exactly how it boosts the activity of a treatment for colorectal cancer. We talk with one of the researchers about his study.

The Benefits of Spices

Many spices have effects on bodily functions beyond making our food taste good. Do you have favorites? Do you know what they might be doing for you?

Call in your questions and comments at 888-472-3366 or email radio@peoplespharmacy.com between 7 and 8 am EDT.

This Week’s Guests:

Ajay Goel, PhD, is director of the Center for Gastrointestinal Research and of the Center for Epigenetics, Cancer Prevention and Cancer Genomics at the Baylor Research Institute. He is professor of medicine at Baylor University Medical Center. His research was published in Carcinogenesis, March, 2015. He has also published research on preventing cancer with curcumin and boswellia in the journal Cancer Prevention Research, online Feb. 23, 2015.  The photo is of Dr. Goel.

Christopher Gardner, PhD, is professor of medicine at the Stanford Prevention Research Center. He is a nutrition scientist who has conducted randomized controlled human nutrition trials with more than 1,700 participants in the past 20 years and previously served on the American Heart Association’s Nutrition Committee.

Listen to the Podcast

The podcast of this program will be available the Monday after the broadcast date. The show can be streamed online from this site and podcasts can be downloaded for free for four weeks after the date of broadcast. After that time has passed, digital downloads are available for $2.99. CDs may be purchased at any time after broadcast for $9.99.

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Air Date:April 11, 2015

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    Essex UK

    I have just recently came across peoples pharmacy , which is very informative and useful information.
    My mother always very active all her life up until she was 72yrs young, now 81 suffering more severe than i with Arthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoporosis is on painkillers to try and relieve .
    i am eager to learn more on Turmeric and how it relieves severe pain in arthritis, joint pain , any feed back on herbs and spices that is known to help relieve pain must be of benefit…
    Your website is great and good to read and learn from , ?
    look forward to more news and informative info to come!! Thankyou again!

  2. Wayne

    Curcumin is also promoted as a detoxifying herb but my experience with it has not been good. I am wondering if this detoxifying aspect releases toxins into my blood which are very hard to remove and are the source of this. In 2000 I started taking powdered turmeric from a highly respected distributor and over a period of a year became convinced that it caused pre-ventricular fibrillation (PVP) building very slowly and the symptom was relieved very slowly when discontinuing turmeric, but faster if I consumed large amounts of grape juice. This is entirely different from what I find if I search for turmeric allergy.

    I have used a wide variety of cleansing herbs before and after this with no adverse reactions and in 2011 I tried BCM95, a turmeric extract, cautiously. I experienced increased blood pressure but no PVP. I have done various cleanses and improved my overall supplement program since 2000 and that could explain the reduced symptoms. Any ideas as to what is going on?

  3. Russ 88

    Russ’ Turmeric Elixir Recipe

    1) Absorption of turmeric by the intestine is very greatly enhanced by piperine (black pepper).

    2) Absorption of turmeric by the intestine is greatly enhanced by fat.

    3) Liquid oil, when combined with spices, kills the strong taste of those spices.

    4) Ground cloves or cinnamon are also great anti-oxidents, and therefor great anti-inflammatories.

    5) Recipe: A) 1 T turmeric; B) 1 heaping t ground black pepper; C) 1 t ground cloves or cinnamon; D) 1 t NutraSea liquid fish oil or equivalent; E) 1 t olive oil. Mix and take off the spoon with a water chaser.

    6) Taken daily is, imho, curing the psoriasis on the back of my hands and eliminating severe leg cramps which, for some strange reason, I only get at night, in the bed.

  4. Carolyn
    United States

    I have heard that you must take pepper along with the turmeric for it to be effective. I asked at the local health food store and they agreed, and said they could order pills containing both. Any truth to this?

  5. Nomie

    My husband has pancreatic cancer. It was recommended to him by a friend, that he take Turmeric capsules and also, MILD cayenne pepper in capsule form.

    What is your opinion on this?

    Thank you

  6. Cali
    Sacramento CA

    After enduring chemo & radiation following surgery, it took what seemed forever to regain sufficient strength to resume semi-normal activities. I resumed taking CoQ10, but the side effects of chemo continued. Reading about the benefits of curcumin convinced me to buy a bottle of it. Within a month I noticed improvement.
    Not a placebo effect because when I discontinued the curcumin my aches & pains returned. It may not help everyone but it works for me.

  7. Kristen

    What was the name of Dr. Goel’s favorite type of turmeric? It was a string of letters. Thanks!

    • The People's Pharmacy

      The type of turmeric that Dr. Goel referred to was BCM-95. Several different supplement makers sell this preparation.

      • Shirley
        Morgantown, West Virginia

        Is tumeric the same herb a curcumin…do I buy BCM-95? Is this helpful for other cancers too?

  8. JoAnn

    I make turmeric and ginger tea. I was surprised listening to the show that no one talked about fresh turmeric which is what I use.

    • Charles
      Raleigh, NC

      I buy fresh turmeric root at our local oriental grocery, peel and mix in a smoothie. (Raw turmeric alone tastes pretty awful). I did not catch the entire last radio program, but I heard identified at least one recommended supplement. Wouldn’t the actual root be as, or more effective, potent, and potentially pure as some of these expensive supplements?

  9. Ron

    Where can I find the recipe for “gypsy soup”?

  10. Kay
    Springfield, MO

    I missed the first half of today’s program on turmeric and other spices and am very interested. I had surgery for breast cancer two years ago and am trying to use diet to maintain my health. I cook with turmeric fairly often, but have no idea how much or how frequently to cook with this or other spices. How can I hear the first half of the program?

  11. Renee K.
    Eau Claire, Wisconsin

    I have a question… What is the recipe for the delicious soup you were talking about in this particular episode?

    • The People's Pharmacy

      It is an adaptation of a recipe from vegetarian chef Mollie Katzen, of Moosewood fame. It’s called Gypsy Soup. You can find Dr. Gardner’s version in our cookbook, Recipes & Remedies from The People’s Pharmacy, or you may be able to find the original in the Moosewood Cookbook.

  12. Charlotte s.

    I thought time rock thinned the blood. I take Pradaxa. Will Tumeric cause any problems?

  13. paul

    This show inspires me consider getting these spices in their most bio-available forms, how to use liver enzyme level variation to inform my diet and how epigenetics and genomics can help me better use turmeric, ginger and these other spices that we know intuitively contribute to our well being. It also says again that my good health is in my hands.

  14. Anna
    Myrtle Beach, SC



    India’s Cancer rate is on a sharp incline. Doubtful this is in any way due to diet. Apparently tobacco is eaten in some districts.

    While I understand suspicion about curcumin clams this is an actual MD at a well known university doing real research. There is no debate about inflammation and Cancer being related.

  15. VDP

    I grew up in India, currently live in US and do include spices in my diet regularly. While there may be benefits ( even more benefits then we know) but those benefits are exaggerated by manufacturing companies. I am a physician and have many physician friends in India so I am somewhat familiar with practices and prevalent medical issues.
    I have to disagree with Dr Goel’s comment that India has lesser rate of colon and breast cancer because people eat spices regularly. A. Most of the poor population cannot afford this spices ( definitely not the dose that is recommended to be beneficial) B. Screening for colon and breast cancer is not as very common practice. One cannot say that the rate of certain cancer has increased just because we are finding it more with newer techniques. Do agree that incidence of Alzhiemer’s is less but that has to be genetics/racial variations rather then diet.

  16. SHERI
    United States

    I would love to know more about the high residual of roundup on which spices? where are the main concerns here? I grow most of my own herbs organically but there are times I have to buy seed stock or fresh.

  17. Gayle

    I have been taking turmeric capsules for almost a year; suggested to me by my GP. I bought the capsules online because I could not find them locally. And from reading People’s Pharmacy, I also drink Certo gel with grape juice. I no longer have tendinitis or knee pain. I’m 63 and haven’t felt this good in years. Before turmeric, Certo, grape juice I had horrible knee pain. It works, I’m a huge fan. God bless. Gayle

    • paul

      Gayle, I was not able to notice a specific effect from Certo. Good for you. I am looking for a more bioavailable form for termeric and plan to cook chicken with it this week-end.

      • Gayle

        Paul, I buy organic Curcumin (turmeric) with bioperine (500 mg) online. I take one a day with the Certo and grape juice. I also go to warm therapy pool 2-3 times a week for mild exercise. I was a candidate for knee replacement, both knees, also had 2 series of knee shots and took variety of pain pills… Even I think the Certo, turmeric capsules, grape juice sounds weird. Omgosh, I did not want surgery and I am very grateful to People’s Pharmacy! God bless.

  18. Barbara
    United States

    How is the best way to use turmeric powder? Cook w/it (do you taste it) or sprinkle
    on food?

    • VDP

      Turmeric powder is used as a spice. It doesn’t taste good by itself but when mixed with other foods and spices it imparts / enhances flavors and gives light/golden color. better when cooked with rather then sprinkled. Turmeric is basically a root like ginger – fresh turmeric can be pickled. Grandmothers would make a hot concoction with boiled water, turmeric, honey, cinnamon etc – thought to help treat common cold ( don’t know if it treats, but makes you feel better).

  19. Jim
    land o lakes, fl

    A teaspoon of yellow mustard will knock out my muscle cramps in about 10 minutes!

    • Joe
      Floyd, VA

      I suffer from frequent, very painful leg cramps. When the PP recommended a tablespoon of prepared mustard as a source of relief, I thought it was just some form of folk snake oil. But what did I have to lose in trying it? It works remarkably well and has never failed me. It usually takes two to three minutes before relief is noted. I use Dijon mustard because that’s what we have around. Presumably, all prepared mustards work if they contain turmeric.

  20. Doug
    Philadelphia Pa

    It is looking, to me, like you are trying to charge $ for too many things. Like the pod cast. If I wanted to use the pod cast for something, to make $ that’s ok. There are outhr things you should not charge for.

    • The People's Pharmacy

      Doug, please check back on shows you are interested in on the Monday following the radio broadcast. We make all of our shows available to download as podcasts or stream from our website for four weeks for free! You can find our podcast in the iTunes store or download it from our store for free here for the next 4 weeks:

      Additionally we have over 7,500 pages on our website covering a broad variety of health concerns and topics, all of it available for free. Our email newsletter is also 100% free.

    • ebm

      Quit yer bitchin’ !! PP gives us such valuable info and links to it FREE. They also have bills to pay and make a living. They employ people to run the web site and monitor our sometimes not so kind blog. What free nutrition advice do you get from your doctor? PP always stays nice in their reply when attacked by people like you. THEY DO NOT DESERVE TO BE ATTACKED!

    • Ludmilla

      You get what you pay for. If you want good information, it has to come from a reliable source. That source has to make a living just like you and I do to keep a roof overhead and food in the belly. I have listened to TPF form MANY years in various states I have lived in, and even when I have reason to disagree based on my research, I still basically trust them and willingly pay if I need to review a past show. They have often steered me in a direction that was either life-changing/improving that I would not have known had I not paid attention to them. Thank you Joe and Terry and thank you for remaining a “pair” for most of these years. You are better together.

  21. J. David Auner
    Springfield, MO, USA

    Dr. Goel might comment on the high RoundUp residual levels found in many spices. Like wheat and some other crops, spices are sprayed just before harvest by some growers to make them uniformly dry as they die back. This practice has been going on since 1992 and may contribute to various human and other maladies which were formerly rare and are now increasing.

  22. Paul43
    United States

    I would appreciate hearing more on this subject.

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