Dr. Michael Greger is speaking at the University of Bristol on April 29th. Now sold out, rather unfortunately. Here is a you tube video of his recent talk at Google. Entertaining and with a lifesaving message! The tobacco companies played dirty tricks and delayed the message about tobacco and cancer. Now the food companies / salt / sugar conglomerates are using the same tactics and seeking the collusion of government. Don’t let them do it!! Happy Easter!
Curcumin the King of Spices. Derived from turmeric and one of the main components of “Curry Powder”, the health benefits of curcumin have been known for centuries.
During chemotherapy my diet was not the best. Fried egg sandwiches were my afternoon delight.
When chemotherapy finished, one of the questions, uppermost in my mind was how to keep at bay the the wee-crab like thing that had taken up residence in my body:
Me: How do I keep the cancer at bay?
Oncologist: Well, we adopt a watch and wait strategy in cases like yours.
Me: I don’t want to watch and wait, it doesn’t seem a very active approach to treating an illness. If I am not doing anything I will feel hopeless and get depressed……
Oncologist: OK, try taking selenium, zinc, possibly aspirin – no scrub that last one – you might bleed. We know that curcumin is looking good as a potential treatment – particularly for bowel tumours. Get as much into your system as possible.
Armed with this bit of advice, curry became the daily meal with lots of organic turmeric. Turmeric in every meal, soup, stew, salads dressing. Not unpleasant in the diet and apart from turning me a light shade of orange, no real side effects.
However, patients diagnosed with cancer read and read and read. I was no different. It became apparent that the bio-availability of curcumin i.e. the amount absorbed compared to the amount ingested, was pretty low. The alternative and orthodox literature on curcumin is immense and several ways to increase absorption are well documented.
First, curcumin is better absorbed in the presence of fat. Now, I am on a pretty low fat low sugar diet, so how would I achieve this? Coconut oil seemed to be the preferred method in the curcumin chatrooms
Second, piperine – a component of black pepper – increases absorption – OK I love black pepper, full speed ahead on that one then.
The curcumin chatrooms were also full of adverts, promotions for supplements, specifically formulated to increase curcumin bio-availability – some of the sales pitches quoted huge increases in absorption. Wow – fab. I needed some of that! I succumbed to the sales pitches and started heavy supplementation – curcumin XL 4000 – evidently 23 times as much absorbed. I was becoming even more golden taking over 20 capsules daily – but the supplements were not without side effects: griping abdominal pain late in the day, increased frequency of the bowels, and also liver pain. I checked that I was not suffering from gallstones (turmeric can make gallstones worse evidently) and persevered. Something else to be cautious about is an anti-platelet effect of the spice – it has a mild aspirin like effect and can make the blood thin – this might be a problem if one al;ready takes aspirin or anti-coagulants – so always discuss with one’s doctor before dosing up on herbs and spices or considering radical dietary change to treat illness!
Peak orange-ness occurred around the middle of last year and is evident in this photo taken when I took my youngest daughter to visit The London Dungeons:
At the beginning of this year I started to wind down some of my supplements as something wasn’t quite right and I was getting too liverish. Lo and behold, my liver function started to improve and is now the best it has been since chemotherapy.
But, but, but I need the golden spice – so back to natural methods – curcumin, coconut oil and black pepper. The curcumin chatrooms have recipes for golden paste – which can be taken by mouth in various forms. My preferred method is the golden milk:
I use a teaspoon of golden paste, and warm with a cup of non-dairy milk, adding a pinch of cinnamon and a splash of vanilla. No sweetener needed but one could add a bit of honey if one is not worried about the sugar load. YUM!!
Naltrexone – Used to treat drug addiction in high doses
The medicines above are showing promise in the treatment of cancer. Research is early stage and as yet there are no large scale phase 3 clinical trials demonstrating efficacy and safety. However they are all pretty cheap with good side effect profiles. So why not use them? Well, we don’t really know for sure that these agents work. They may make the situation worse. Doctors like to see a robust phase 3 clinical trial and more before they feel comfortable prescribing a new drug. Things could go wrong and if the drug is unlicensed then the practitioner may be vulnerable to a complaint or lawsuit. The use of these medicines for cancer would have been made much easier if the recent “Off Label Drugs” Bill had not been filibustered in Parliament last year, but don’t get me started on that…..
So what does one do if articles appear promoting the use of medicines for the treatment of cancer in the absence of big clinical trial evidence? Doctors are busy and “evidence-based” guidelines may be out of date. The huge volume of research being published means some important developments get lost in transit. Some doctors will prescribe – for instance my oncologist has advised me to take low dose aspirin – risky with a bowel problem but the evidence is pointing to good effects of aspirin in patients with gastro-intestinal cancers.
The inspiring survival of Professor Ben Williams who recovered from one of the most deadly brain tumours – grade 4 glioblastoma multiforme clearly demonstrates the benefit of using appropriate off label drugs under appropriate supervision and monitoring.