Turmeric is a perennial shrub that is grown in India and other tropical areas of Asia. It was long used as a hot yellow spice to flavor Indian cuisine and mustards to give them a potent "bite." While turmeric has a long history of use in traditional Ayurvedic medicine, only recently has the world of Western medicine taken notice of its many health promoting properties.
Studies with animals show that turmeric benefits liver health. Several animal studies suggest that turmeric protects the liver from the damaging effects of certain toxins, including alcohol. These findings certainly lend credence to the herb's history of use in liver aliments. Furthermore, laboratory studies suggest that curcumin has anti-cancer activity. More specifically, it destroys some types of cancer cells. For example, in the laboratory, curcumin kills cultures of human leukemia cells. This action may be due to turmeric's antioxidant properties or some other anti-cancer activity. Needless to say, more research is needed to determine turmeric benefits as a potential cancer agent.
While tumeric should be studied more thoroughly in humans to better understand its therapeutic properties, why not start making it a staple in your kitchen?