01 September, 2011
Turmeric & HPV
HPV, or the human papillomavirus, is the most common sexually transmitted virus that affects at least 50 percent of sexually active people in the U.S., says the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. There are more than 100 types of the virus, of which about 30 types increase your risk of cervical and vaginal cancer. The infection is often asymptomatic, although genital warts may occur in some cases. Apart from medications and surgery, certain supplements and herbs such as turmeric may also help manage the infection; however, you should consult your doctor before taking any supplements.
Turmeric is a characteristic yellow powder obtained from the perennial Curcuma longa plant, native to Southern Asia. It contains volatile oils and an antioxidant compound known as curcumin, which are responsible for its immense medicinal value. Curcumin and turmeric supplements are available as capsules, powders, fluid extracts and tinctures, and have been used traditionally to treat a variety of conditions, including osteoarthritis, diabetes, ulcers, certain cancers and infections. The dose is different in different individuals. Your doctor may help determine a regime that is right for you.
HPV and Cervical Cancer
Curcumin reduces the expression of HPV oncoproteins and induces the apoptosis, or programmed cell death, of the cancer cells, according to a study published in the January 2011 issue of the journal “Molecular Carcinogenesis.” It may also enhance the expression of tumor suppressing proteins, says the study. Another article in the May 2006 issue of the same journal reaffirms the anticancer and antitumor properties of curcumin against HPV-associated cervical cancer cell lines in the laboratory. However, these benefits have not been proven in actual clinical cases, and more research is needed before curcumin supplements can replace the existing medications and vaccines.
Turmeric is used as a spice and coloring agent, and is generally considered safe. However, consuming high doses of the herb may lead to upset stomach and ulcers. When taken along with anti-diabetes medications, turmeric can cause excessive lowering of the blood sugar levels. It may also interfere with certain antacid and blood-thinning medications.
You must talk to a doctor before using turmeric supplements to avoid complications. Remember that the Food and Drug Administration does not regulate the production of turmeric supplements in the U.S. So, make sure that the supplements you intend to use have been tested for safety and efficacy. Your pharmacist may help you find more information about the manufacturer. You may also look for the USP logo that is awarded to the supplements that have been voluntarily submitted for safety tests to the United States Pharmacopeial Convention.
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