Ginger and turmeric fight cancer

Studies show anti-cancer benefits of the ginger family and its compounds

Members of the Zingiberaceae family block tumor promotion

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Ginger (Zingiber officinale), turmeric (Curcuma longa or domestica) and other members of the Zingiberaceae family of rhizomes have a long history of use in Malaysian traditional medicine. Ginger, for example, is widely used in the treatment of stomach problems, nausea, vomiting, epilepsy, sore throat, cough, bruises, wounds, childbirth, sore eyes, liver complaints, rheumatism, asthma, and many other disorders.

Researchers at the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia now report that several members of the Zingiberaceae family effectively block the promotion of cancerous tumors.[1] They tested 11 different species and found that seven of them had strong anti-tumor properties. Their test involved a short-term assay of the inhibitory effect of extracts of the rhizomes (roots) on human cancer cells. They found that turmeric (Curcuma domestica) extracts (turmeric root extracted with petroleum ether, chloroform or ethanol) completely inhibited further growth of the cancer cells.

Ginger (Zingiber officinale) extracts, especially the chloroform extract, also inhibited further growth, but the concentration of extract was more critical than for the turmeric extracts. The researchers conclude that turmeric, ginger and other Zingiberaceae rhizomes may be useful in preventing the promotion of cancer and that populations with high risks of cancer should be encouraged to include them in their diet. Further work is now underway to isolate the active components in the plants.

More research into the anti-cancer benefits of ginger and turmeric (curcumin)

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A search of the biomedical database PubMed which only publishes validated research confirms that curcumin, the bright yellow compound derived from turmeric, has potential cancer-fighting properties, see e.g.

  • "Plant-derived anticancer agents - curcumin in cancer prevention and treatment"
  • "Anticancer potential of curcumin: preclinical and clinical studies"
  • "Curcumin: A review of anti-cancer properties and therapeutic activity in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma"
  • "Curcumin causes superoxide anion production and p53-independent apoptosis in human colon cancer cells"
  • "Superoxide anion and proteasomal dysfunction contribute to curcumin-induced paraptosis of malignant breast cancer cells"
  • "Curcumin induces down-regulation of EZH2 expression through the MAPK pathway in MDA-MB-435 human breast cancer cells"
  • "Anti-proliferative potential of curcumin in androgen-dependent prostate cancer cells occurs through modulation of the Wingless signaling pathway"
  • "Chemopreventive potential of an ethyl acetate fraction from Curcuma longa is associated with upregulation of p57(kip2) and Rad9 in the PC-3M prostate cancer cell line"
    Conclusion (inter alia): "...reduced the migration and invasive ability of prostate cancer cells".
  • "In vitro and in vivo[2] anti-tumoral effect of curcumin against melanoma cells" (International Journal of Cancer, 2004)

Similar studies (as of September 2019, there are 507 listed at PubMed for the search terms "ginger cancer") exist for the anti-cancer activity of dietary ginger and compounds isolated from ginger, see e.g.

  • "Cancer-preventive properties of ginger: a brief review" published at
  • "Zerumbone inhibits tumor angiogenesis via NF-kB in gastric cancer"
  • "[6]-Gingerol Prevents Disassembly of Cell Junctions and Activities of MMPs in Invasive Human Pancreas Cancer Cells through ERK/NF-κB/Snail Signal Transduction Pathway"
  • "Antimutagenic Potential and Modulation of Carcinogen-Metabolizing Enzymes by Ginger Essential Oil"
  • "6-Shogaol induces apoptosis in human leukemia cells through a process involving caspase-mediated cleavage of eIF2a"
    (This study done in vivo* and in vitro found potent anti-leukemia activity, ginger shrinks leukemia tumors 91%.)
    Full text at
  • "[6]-Gingerol induces caspase-dependent apoptosis and prevents PMA-induced proliferation in colon cancer cells by inhibiting MAPK/AP-1 signaling"
    This study found anticancer and chemopreventive efficacy of [6]-gingerol, ginger's major active principle.
  • "Pilot clinical study of the effects of ginger root extract on eicosanoids in colonic mucosa of subjects at increased risk for colorectal cancer" (Molecular Carcinogenesis, 2014)
  • "6-Shogaol from dried ginger inhibits growth of prostate cancer cells both in vitro and in vivo* through inhibition of STAT3 and NF-κB signaling"
    Published in Cancer Prevention Research. 2014.
  • "Zerumbone inhibits angiogenesis by blocking NF-κB activity in pancreatic cancer" (2014)
  • "Induction of lung cancer cell apoptosis through a p53 pathway by [6]-shogaol and its cysteine-conjugated metabolite M2"
    Published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry (2014).

Finally, a study researching the combined effect of ginger and turmeric concluded that "the combined effects of C. longa and Z. officinale are much greater than their individual effects", see

  • "Combinatorial cytotoxic effects of Curcuma longa and Zingiber officinale on the PC-3M prostate cancer cell line" .

Beware of irradiated turmeric

According to author Kelley Eidem, the turmeric available in India is non-irradiated, while that on sale in the US is typically irradiated. Irradiation changes the herb by rotating one of the hydrogen atoms on its fatty acid compound by 90 degrees which "turns the turmeric from an active oxygen transporter into an active oxygen blocker". So it is paramount to only use non-irradiated turmeric and spices, respectively. Before purchasing turmeric, check with the seller to make sure the spices you buy are non-irradiated.

How to make curcumin more bio-available

Turmeric, the major source of curcumin, can be bought as a powder and added to food. Turmeric is also commonly found in curry powders (where it is a major ingredient). The curcumin contained in turmeric poses one big problem — it is poorly absorbed by the body.

Taking turmeric together with some piperine (an alkaloid found in black pepper) has been found to dramatically increase absorption of curcumin. So you can simply use the two spices on your meals (or alternatively put them in capsules if you don't care for its taste).

One doctor recommends using ginger rather than pepper to enhance the absorption of curcumin (which would happily combine the two cancer-fighting plants highlighted on this page).

Another reason to avoid pepper: as indicated by studies, piperine actually enhances bioavailability by increasing the permeability of your intestines, i.e. possibly contributing to leaky gut.

Incidentally, even allowing the turmeric to well mix with your saliva will increase its beneficial effects according to one study.[3]

Curcumin supplements

There are claims that by increasing intestinal permeability, the black pepper compound piperine (which is also added to a number of curcumin supplements to enhance its uptake by the body) can contribute to leaky gut. While I have found relatively little evidence to support this claim[4], to be on the safe side one may wish to only use curcumin supplements whose bioavailability is enhanced in ways that don't have this arguable side effect.

The following product complies with this specification and is highly bioavailable. One terminal cancer survivor who used curcumin as part of his regime took a daily dose of 600mg split in two doses.[5]

Integrative Therapeutics - Theracurmin HP - Turmeric, Curcumin Supplement - 27x More Bioavailable - High Absorption Turmeric* - Vegan - 60 Capsules (Amazon affiliate link - commissions earned)

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1 Anti-tumour promoter activity in Malaysian ginger rhizobia used in traditional medicine. British Journal of Cancer, 1999

2 Animal experimentation is not supported by Healing Cancer Naturally, for the reasons both ethical and scientific click here.

3 Thorough chewing has multiple health benefits, among them better extraction and enhanced absorption of the nutrients contained in food, see Dr. F.X. Mayr’s research into the link between dietary habits, thorough chewing, intestinal/digestive function and health & beauty.

4 See Hot spices influence permeability of human intestinal epithelial monolayers.

5 See Fenbendazole combination treatment: successes with terminal cancer.

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