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Turmeric's Geranylgeranoic Acid may Prevent Cancer

The rhizome and root of turmeric has been used for centuries in the Indian medical practice of Ayurveda. Indian practitioners have used turmeric as a tonic for the stomach and liver and as purifier of the blood. Modern research has focused on turmeric's potential use as an anti-inflammatory. Scientists think the active components in turmeric, called curcuminoids, may inhibit inflammation in a manner similar to that of conventional drugs like ibuprofen, aspirin and more recently the new Cox-2 inhibitors. Reseachers add that turmeric may offer fewer side effects than these conventional counterparts.

Geranylgeranoic acid is an acyclic retinoid that is found naturally occuring in several traditional herbal medicines such as turmeric, basil, rosehip, and cinnamon. Like many retinoids, geranylgeranoic acid plays a role in bone formation.

Geranylgeranois acid (GGA) is known to be a cancer preventive retinoid since it has been shown to induce cell death in certain human cells. Naturally occurring GGA and its related compounds are found in several medicinal herbs, which include turmeric, basil, rosehip, cinnamon and others. A current study sought to determine whether oral administration of turmeric tablets could increase plasma concentrations of GGA. Researchers found that in the healthy volunteers, plasma GGA was detectable prior to turmeric ingestion and then increased at two hours after intake. Levels stayed elevated for four hours after oral turmeric ingestion in the study participants. These results suggest that GGA from the turmeric tablet was absorbed intact through the intestinal mucosa indicating an efficient bioavailability of this acid. In conclusion, the information appears to warrant future studies to research the cancer preventive roles of GGA in a number of spices.1 

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This article was published on Tuesday August 17, 2010.
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 Mitake M, Ogawa H, Uebaba K, et al. Increase in plasma concentrations of geranylgeranoic Acid after turmeric tablet intake by healthy volunteers. J Clin Biochem Nutr. 2010;46(3):252-8.