Turmeric, the wonder spice that's a familiar ingredient in many Indian dishes, may actually help to treat oral cancer associated with human papillomavirus.
According to a study published in the journal E Cancer Medical Science, an antioxidant found in turmeric called curcumin – an active ingredient in the spice – appears to be able to suppress the activity of HPV.
Co-author of the study, Dr Alok Mishra of Emory University in Atlanta, stated that he was optimistic about the conclusions.
"Turmeric has established antiviral and anti-cancer properties," he said. "And according to our new findings, we could say that it is good for oral health too."
HPV, a common sexually transmitted virus that has no cure, can lead to the development of oral and cervical cancer. However, through this new research, a means of providing control over the virus has been discovered using the antioxidant.
Turmeric is able to slow the expression of HPV in infected oral cancer cells by downregulating the levels of cellular transcription factors of NF-KB and AP-1. These findings suggest that curcumin could in fact control the extent of an HPV infection.
This result was first noted in 2005 by Mishra and his research team.
"Since HPV-related oral cancer cases are on the rise, we tested the same hypothesis on oral cancer," Dr Mishra explained. "They turned out to be some very interesting findings."
There have been numerous studies about the benefits of turmeric, with specific relations to the antioxidant, curcumin. The results have been promising and show that curcumin can not just kill cancer cells, but also slow the growth of the surviving cells.
There has been prior research done on turmeric that concluded that the antioxidant can help to reduce symptoms of arthritis, lower "bad" cholesterol, help ulcerative colitis, and reduce inflammation.
Alzheimer's disease is also found to benefit from curcumin in Turmeric.
Furthermore, turmeric is believed by some to help prevent and slow the development of several types of cancer, including mouth, esophagus, skin, stomach, breast, and intestines.
According to Cancer.org, "Turmeric is promoted mainly as an anti-inflammatory herbal remedy and is said to produce fewer side effects than commonly used pain relievers.
"Some practitioners prescribe turmeric to relieve inflammation caused by arthritis, muscle sprains, swelling, and pain caused by injuries or surgical incisions, the site noted. "It is also promoted as a treatment for rheumatism and as an antiseptic for cleaning wounds."
There are also some proponents who claim that turmeric interferes with the actions of some viruses, including hepatitis and HIV.