The People's Perspective on Medicine

Show 988: Spices for a Healthy Life

Many spices such as cinnamon, fenugreek or turmeric, do more for us than simply make our food taste good.
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Spices for a Healthy Life

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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 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.

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
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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!

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?

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.

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?

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

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.

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

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

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.

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?

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

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?

Kay, you can listen for free at our website.
Look for the entry for show 988

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

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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

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).

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

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

I would appreciate hearing more on this subject.

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