6 Science-Backed Benefits of Curcuma Longa in Leukaemia
6 Science-Backed Benefits of Curcuma Longa in Leukaemia
Leukemia is cancer that causes the production of abnormal blood cells (usually white).
There are several types of leukaemia, classified based on whether it is acute or chronic.
Leukemia is identified to be acute or chronic. The acute leukaemia is characterised by rapid multiplication of immature blood cells or blasts.
Chronic leukaemia involves slow replication of mature blood cells.
The acute form of this disease worsens fast as the blood cells that cannot function properly divide rapidly. However, the chronic form is developed slowly as the multiplication of abnormal cells is slow and therefore, remains unnoticed for a long time.
Leukemia is also identified as lymphocytic and myelogenous. Both these types are further categorised into acute or chronic.
The lymphocytic leukaemia affects the lymphocytes, i.e., the cells that form lymphatic tissue which makes up the immune system.
Myelogenous leukaemia affects the myeloid cells, i.e., the cells that form red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets.
Acute lymphocytic leukaemia usually affects children, while other types affect adults.
Older adults, those exposed to chemical or ionising radiation, those with Down syndrome,
Hodgkin’s disease or Fanconi’s anaemia, smokers, hereditary causes, some drugs, chromosomal abnormalities are some causes of leukaemia.
The symptoms of leukaemia include frequent infections, bone and joint pain, fatigue, fever, night sweats, weight loss, easy bruising or bleeding, anaemia, swollen lymph node, enlarged liver or spleen , etc.
The cause of leukaemia is thought to be the mutation in the cells that produce blood. There are various risk factors associated with it such as genetic inheritance, smoking or exposure to certain carcinogens and radiations.
People with a certain disease like Fanconi anaemia (a bone marrow disease), neurofibromatosis, Bloom syndrome, Down’s syndrome etc are also at a risk of developing leukaemia.
The side-effects of the common treatment, i.e., chemotherapy and radiotherapy are often severe resulting in heart failure, neuropathy, liver, kidney or gastrointestinal dysfunctions.
Other surgical procedures and alternative therapies are some ways of treating leukaemia. Homeopathy and acupuncture are said to relieve some symptoms. Nutritional supplements can address nutritional deficiencies caused by aggressive treatment.
What is turmeric from Curcuma Longa?
Turmeric obtained from the plant Curcuma longa rather than other Curcuma genus, which belongs to family Zingiberaceae. The rhizome of this plant is a useful part which is used fresh or in a dried powdered form, other Curcuma genus are commonly in cooking.
The medicinal properties of turmeric are have been studied tremendously by the scientist. The studies have thrown light on a vast range of its properties such as antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, anti-cancer, immune-modulation , etc.
These properties are a virtue of its bioactive compounds such as curcuminoids, particularly curcumin. Turmeric constituents a number of other compounds as well. These include proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins (B&C), minerals (Potassium, Sodium, Iron etc) volatile oils, omega fatty acids, α-linolenic acid , etc.
6 Science-Backed Benefits of Leukemia
By virtue of its anti-cancer activity can be very beneficial for leukaemia patients. Its other properties such as antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties can further prove to be useful in other aspects of leukaemia treatment and prevention.
1. Kills blood cancer cells and prevents proliferation
The abnormal blood cells produced by bone marrow results in the development of leukaemia In order to treat this type of cancer, these abnormal cells need to target and kill.
This process is called apoptosis. A number of chemicals or natural substances can induce apoptosis in cancer cells and thus, kill them. This occurs by targeting various molecular pathways in the cells by these substances.
Also, the proliferation of these cells needs to be prevented by avoiding their further invasion in the body. Curcuma Longa (called as “C.L.) is an anti-cancer agent that has been found to kill cancer cells by inducing apoptosis through its action on numerous molecular pathways.
At the same time, it does not kill normal cells.
C.L. is also known to have an anti-proliferative activity that prevents cancer from spreading. Curcumin, the bioactive compound of turmeric is found to induce apoptosis and suppress the invasion in the leukaemia cells.It induced apoptosis by inhibiting expressions of certain molecules like NF-kappa B, Bcl-2 (anti-apoptotic or those that prevent cell death) and activating certain pro-apoptotic pathways like caspase-3 and MAPK signalling.
It suppresses the invasion by reducing levels of MMP-2 and MMP-9 (involved in angiogenesis and inflammation).
C.L. is active against all types of leukaemia and adopts various different pathways in each to induce apoptosis.Curcumin induces cell apoptosis in acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) by suppressing DNA Methyltransferase-1 (involved in the progression of cancer) and thus prevents the cancer growth.
In case of chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL), curcumin has been found to inhibit cancer survival pathways such as STAT3, NF-kappa B, and Akt, in combination with green tea polyphenols.
Another compound from turmeric, i.e., β-sesquiphellendrene has been found to possess anti-cancer activities as well. It induces apoptosis and has anti-proliferative action comparable to curcumin in various types of cancer including leukaemia.
What does it mean?
It means consumption of Curcuma Longa can kill the cancer cells in various types of leukaemia. The turmeric bioactive compounds induce cell death and also prevent cell proliferation of the blood cancer cells. This can be very effective in the treatment of the various types of leukaemia.
2. Curcuma Longa (C.L.) inhibits angiogenesis
Angiogenesis is defined as the development of new blood vessels. It is an important process in the spread and survival of cancer as it provides the cancer cells with an adequate supply of oxygen and other nutrients.
Initially, it was believed that angiogenesis is a characteristic of solid tumors only, but now the evidence has surfaced for the role of angiogenesis in ‘liquid tumours’ like leukaemia.
There have been findings of increased angiogenesis in the bone marrow of both acute and chronic leukaemia patients. A role of VEGF factor (a protein that stimulates angiogenesis) is suspected here.
In the case of the early stages of chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL), VEGF factor level has found to be elevated in bone marrow and lymph nodes.
Acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) is also found to have increased angiogenesis related to an elevated VEGF level.
Inhibition of angiogenesis can be another treatment approach for leukaemia. C.L. can be used here as well.Curcumin is found to have an anti-angiogenic action. It interferes with the pathways of various factors that mediate angiogenesis.
It is found to inhibit various pro-angiogenic factors like VEGF and bFGF.
It also inhibits the signal transduction pathways which are involved in angiogenesis such as, proteins kinase C and transcription factors NF-kappa B and AP-1.
What does it mean?
It means the use of Curcuma Longa can inhibit angiogenesis which is involved in the progression of leukaemia. The inhibition of pro-angiogenic factors by curcumin can help in the treatment as well as prevention of leukaemia.
3. C. L. can regulate immune responses in leukaemia
Bone marrow is a producer of lymphocytes that make up the immune system.
When bone marrow is adversely affected, the immune system is bound to go south.
In the case of lymphocytic leukaemia, the immune dysfunction becomes evident.
It has been seen that chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) suppresses immune system thus making the body prone to infections. It also leads to the failure of anti-cancer immune responses.
This insight into the effect of leukaemia on immune system establishes the potential of immune therapy against this disease.
C. L. has a potential of immune-modulation, i.e., it can modulate the immune responses that can help against many diseases including cancer. It is known to enhance antibody responses and can modulate the activation of various types of immune cells.
Curcumin has been studied for its ability to modulate the immune system to exert anti-cancer effects. It boosts anti-tumour immunity and thus, prevents development and progression of cancer.
What does it mean?
It means the intake of Curcuma Longa can boost the immune system that can enable the body to fight against cancer. C.L. modulates the activity of the immune cells to overcome the impairment caused by lymphocytic leukaemia. This can prevent the development of this disease.
4. It assists in chemotherapy and radiotherapy
Chemotherapy and radiotherapy are the majorly used treatment against leukaemia. There are certain limitations associated with these therapies that hinder the proper treatment.
One such limitation is the lack of sensitivity of the cancer cells towards these therapies. This lack of sensitivity may be a result of certain factors that influence the environment of cancer cells, such as oxygen levels in the cells.
Agents that can alter the environment of the cancer cells can improve their sensitivity to these treatments viz. chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
Curcumin from Curcuma Longa has the healthiest benefit for animals and human beings, it is found to be a chemosensitizer and radiosensitizer in case of several types of cancer, including leukaemia.
These actions of curcumin are a result of down-regulation of various growth regulatory pathways, genetic factors, anti-apoptotic proteins, and multi-drug resistant proteins.
In cases of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL), curcumin has been found to down-regulate NF-kappa B. This sensitises the cancer cells to the chemotherapeutic drugs such as doxorubicin, methotrexate, vincristine, cytarabidine and many more.
The treatment of chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) is also known to be improved by turmeric powder. The chemotherapeutic drug imatinib (a preferred drug against CML), was assisted by C. L. to improve its efficiency.
An increased level of nitric oxide is a characteristic reported in leukaemia. Administration of turmeric along with imatinib decreased the nitric oxide levels in the CML patients significantly more than imatinib alone. This highlights the efficiency of Curcuma Longa as a chemosensitizer.
Curcumin’s radiosensitizing effects are known to be mediated through inhibition of PI3K/Akt-dependent NF-kappa B pathway (it enhances sensitivity to radiotherapy).
What does it mean?
It means use of Curcuma Longa can assist in the chemotherapy and radiotherapy against leukaemia. Turmeric sensitises the cancer cells by altering their environment, to chemotherapeutic drugs and radiation. This improves the effect of these therapies on the cancer cells and help in better treatment.
5. It has chemopreventive action
Chemoprevention is the phenomena of reduction of risk of developing cancer by using certain natural or synthetic substances. These substances suppress or prevent carcinogenesis (development of cancer).
Curcuma Longa is one of these natural substances that have chemopreventive action. Its bioactive component, curcumin is known to protect against a variety of cancer.