I'm sure most of us have heard or read about how our Jewish grandmothers' chicken soup is good at shortening the duration of colds and flu. They have even given it the nick name "Jewish Penicillin". Who would have thought that a Yemenite Jewish Grandmother might have a powerful tool for causing cancer cells to commit suicide?
I have a very good friend Yaffa Arieff who makes a special Yemenite chicken soup. She has stayed true to the recipe she has grown up with and has resisted changing it into a full fledged vegetable soup. It's simple ingredients only include Chicken, Garlic, Onion, Cilantro and Hawaj. This recipe comes from a time when there wasn't the plenty that there is today, but the need to feed your growing family with something filling and tasty was still great.
I was tasked with making a Friday Night sit-down meal for the entire Shul (over 100 people) and I asked Yaffa to help me make her special soup to serve. Knowing how delicious it is, we made two huge industrial size pots of it. As expected it was a big hit. There wasn't much left over after many people took seconds, but I froze what was left and forgot about it for a couple of weeks.
Cleaning out the Shul's Freezer several weeks later, I found it and asked if anyone would like some to take home. I got no takers, so I took it home myself.
Those of you who know how I practice my ketogenic diet for Cancer, know that I live like a diabetic taking glucose levels 3 to 4 times a day depending on whether I have 2 or 3 main meals that day. I started eating a 2 cup serving of Yaffa's soup adding 2 tablespoons of my chicken shmaltz to it for lunch. All of a sudden my blood glucose levels dropped. It took me a few days to figure out what was causing such a dramatic result as I regularly make chicken soup stock for myself and add 2 tablespoons of shmaltz to ingest enough fat in my daily diet. I spoke to Yaffa and she thought it was the combination of the Tumeric in the Hawaj and the fresh Cilantro that was helping me. She kindly came over and showed me how to make a one pot version of her soup and I carefully measured out all the ingredients as she made it. Sure enough it gave me the same results as the leftovers from the Shabbaton.
After doing my do-diligence I found that the answer to, "Was it the Tumeric?" was slightly more complicated than than she thought, since tumeric/curcumin is not so readily bio-avalible (it's hard to absorb), and here are my findings:
Curcumin and Cancer Cells: How Many Ways Can Curry Kill Tumor Cells Selectively?
Modulation of various cell death pathways by curcumin. Targets up-regulated by curcumin are in a blue box, those down-regulated are in a yellow box, and those unaffected are in a white box. AP-1 activator protein-1, AMPK 5' adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase, BID BH3 interacting domain death agonist, BIM BCL2-like 11 (apoptosis facilitator), cFLIP cellular FLICE-like inhibitory protein, FADD Fas-associated protein with Death Domain, DR4 death receptor 4, DR5 death receptor 5, EGFR epithelial growth factor receptor, IAP inhibitor of apoptosis protein, IL-6 interleukin-6, JNK c-Jun N-terminal kinase, mTOR mammalian target of rapamycin, NF-kB nuclear factor-kB, PI3K phosphoinositide 3-kinase, STAT3 signal transducer and activator of transcription 3, XIAP X-linked IAP
Their conclusion is as follows:
"Overall, our review shows that curcumin can kill a wide variety of tumor cell types through diverse mechanisms. Because of numerous mechanisms of cell death employed by curcumin, it is possible that cells may not develop resistance to curcumin-induced cell death. Furthermore, its ability to kill tumor cells and not normal cells makes curcumin an attractive candidate for drug development. Although numerous animal studies and clinical trials have been done, additional studies are needed to gain the full benefit from curcumin."
This didn't answer the bio-availiblity issue though.
Bioavailability of Curcumin: Problems and Promises
So after some more research I was finally clued in.
"Piperine (Black Pepper), a known inhibitor of hepatic and intestinal glucuronidation, was combined with curcumin and administered in rats and healthy human volunteers by Shoba et al. In rats, 2 g/kg of curcumin alone produced a maximum serum curcumin level of 1.35 ± 0.23 µg/mL at 0.83 h, whereas concomitant administration of piperine (20 mg/kg) increased the serum concentration of curcumin for a short period; time to maximum peak level (Tmax) was significantly increased, while elimination half-life and clearance were significantly decreased resulting in an increase of bioavailability of 154%. In contrast, in humans receiving a dose of 2 g curcumin alone, serum levels were either undetectable or very low. Concomitant administration of piperine, however, produced 2000% increase in bioavailability"
Can Turmeric slow down the spread of Breast Cancer?
The third ingredient necessary for absorption is hot fat. Which slows down the digestion process and allows more curcumin to be bio-available.
Yaffa didn't add tumeric/curcumin to her soup straight. She added it as a peppery spice mixture called "Hawaj". It seems that curcumin is much more accessible to the body mixed with black pepper (gotten from the Piper nigrum evergreen vine) and fat (chicken schmaltz). The moral of the story is that when taking curcumin, open up the capsule of curcumin, sprinkle it onto your soup. Add some fat and a good few shakes of black pepper. Then down the hatch. Otherwise your just wasting the capsule.
So here is the recipe for Hawaj". Add it to your favorite fatty soups (or add extra chicken shmaltz or beef tallow to make them fatty), and enjoy the taste and health benefits.
Hawaj (A traditional Yemenite spice mix)
6 teaspoons black peppercorns
3 teaspoons caraway seeds
1 teaspoon saffron threads
1 teaspoon cardamom seeds
2 teaspoons turmeric
Using a mortar and pestle (or in a blender), pound (or combine) the peppercorns, caraway seeds, saffron, and cardamom together. Stir in the turmeric and place in a covered jar. Makes 5 tablespoons.
HINT: When making soups and stocks, cover the ingredients completely with cold water. This helps draw out the flavor, vitamins and minerals. During simmering, keep the pot partially covered. Keeping it completely covered may cause the ingredients to over-boil. No cover will cause rapid evaporation. -
Targeting cancer stem cells by curcumin and clinical applications. and clinical applications.