Here we’ll share some thoughts that I hope will help you use spices more effectively in your life, and your pets’ lives. We’ll discuss current ideas about the therapeutic use of spices, toss out some recipes and let you know what’s new in the world of herbs and spices.
Feel free to ask questions, but please do understand that we can’t provide medical advice.
To start out, I wanted to bring up something that has been of concern recently to many turmeric users. An article posted in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry in December 2016 describes curcumin as a “missile that continually blows up on the launchpad, never reaching the atmosphere or its intended target,” and curcumin research as having “entered the steep section of the hyperbolic black hole of natural products.” The article went on to denigrate curcumin in language that made the average turmeric fan’s blood boil. It was quoted in multiple other publications with predictable reactions ranging from condemnation of “Big Pharma” to accusations that government would soon make turmeric illegal, etc.
There is one single important–essentially important–thing to point out about this article. It refers repeatedly to curcumin as a “drug lead.” In pharmacy industry parlance, a “drug lead” is anything which has potential to become an economically viable product. The authors of the article are not interested in the use of turmeric as a food. Most of the virulent reaction to the article seems to have missed that fact.Curcumin may or may not be a good drug lead, but that whole discussion is irrelevant to us as users of the spice, turmeric. Moreover, turmeric is registered as a food with the FDA. It will not be made illegal nor does ‘Big Pharma’ have any particular interest in it.
What about curcumin, then? Will it be outlawed or forced into the status of a drug? Probably not, but if that happens, the companies who have promoted curcumin as a miracle cure for everything under the sun have only themselves to blame. I wince–and I hope you do too–every time I see another sensational headline proclaiming some company’s supplement as THE MOST BIOAVAILABLE CURCUMIN ON THE MARKET!!, or UNIQUELY FORMULATED!!! or whatever that company’s marketing director thought would bring in sales. They carefully skirt the margins of legality by quoting medical research to back up their claim–curcumin inhibits this and reduces that and balances something else. “We aren’t claiming any therapeutic benefits for it,” they righteously proclaim. “We’re just quoting the research.”
So what was the result of that? The result was the aforementioned article blasting the validity of the research. If the research upon which you base your claims is no good, then your claims just became worthless. How this will shake out is anyone’s guess at this point. But it should not have any effect on us as consumers of turmeric as a food. Turmeric has been a valued food for three thousand years, and it’s not going to change any time soon.
So if anyone points out that article and wants to know what you think, just shrug and say “That’s about curcumin as a profitable drug. Nothing to do with how I add turmeric to my diet.”
As always, we suggest you join the Facebook Turmeric User Group for scientifically accurate answers to turmeric questions. Information for this article came in part from a similar article by Liz Wallis in the files of TUG.