There is great controversy surrounding the use of turmeric and its principal curcuminoid, curcumin, in cancer treatment and research. The United States Food and Drug Administration has included curcumin on its list of “187 Fake Cancer ‘Cures’ Consumers Should Avoid.” Nevertheless, turmeric and curcumin are still considered therapeutic, and researchers haven’t given up on identifying the potential uses for care in cancer.
A recent randomized control study published in Cancer Nursing evaluated the effects of a turmeric-based mouthwash on treatment-induced oral mucositis in patients with head and neck cancer.
Oral mucositis is a devastating side effect of cancer treatment, and it can lead to major discomfort poor or inadequate nutrition, discontinuation or alteration of treatment, and hospitalization. Characterized by painful swelling and blistering of the oral mucosa, mucositis affects an estimated 20-40% of patients undergoing chemotherapy for head and neck cancer. There is currently no gold-standard treatment for oral mucositis.
In the Cancer Nursing study, researchers enrolled 92 patients experiencing oral mucositis related to head and neck cancer treatment. Patients were randomized to a control (n=46) and treatment (n=46) group. The control group was given benzydamine mouthwash, and the treatment group a turmeric mouthwash. The participants were graded via the Oral Health Assessment Tool for oral health status and the World Health Organization oral toxicity criteria for oral mucositis. Results and variables were measured weekly during the course of therapy.
After the study, the incidence of oral mucositis in the control group was 100%, whereas the treatment group’s incidence was only 17.8%. Per the report, the groups were “comparable with regard to their demographic and outcome variables,” which makes the significant difference in outcomes much more compelling. Using repeated-measures ANOVA, the researchers demonstrated “significant differences in the onset and severity of oral mucositis (P = .001), oral health status (P = .001), and oral dysfunctions (P = .001) between the experimental and control groups.”
Despite the prevailing notion in medicine that turmeric is of little to no benefit in medical treatment, this study concluded that turmeric mouthwash is an effective treatment for oral mucositis.
“Use of turmeric, a nontoxic and cost-effective intervention, can be an alternative to the traditional management of oral mucositis,” the authors stated.
Randomized Control Study of the Effects of Turmeric Mouthwash on Oral Health Status, Treatment-Induced Mucositis, and Associated Oral Dysfunctions Among Patients With Head and Neck Cancer
187 Fake Cancer ‘Cures’ Consumers Should Avoid
An Investigation into the Prevalence and Treatment of Oral Mucositis After Cancer Treatment