Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer, and curcumin is one of a very few natural remedies that can actually prevent, reduce, and sometimes remove it. While medical treatment that stops basal carcinoma in its tracks is always best, curcumin can help you keep basal cell carcinoma under control in between your visits to the dermatologist.
What Is Basal Cell Carcinoma?
The basal cells are the layer of skin that constantly reproduces itself to produce the keratinocytes that constitute the outermost layer of skin. Keratinocytes release the proteins that bind the skin together before they complete their life cycles about four weeks after they are created. As the keratinocyte matures, it migrates to the surface of the skin, dying on the surface of the skin, and eventually peeling or flaking away to make room for younger, living skin cell tissue.
A basal cell carcinoma is a cancer of the basal cell layer. This kind of cancer can grow, but because it is trapped in the tough keratin protein produced by the keratinocytes it generates, and because the movement of skin cells is up, not down, it does not usually spread. Only when the immune system is severely compromised, by radiation exposure or by HIV, can basal cell carcinoma break off and metastasize to the rest of the body.
Basal cell carcinomas typically look something like a tiny pearl imbedded in the skin. They typically develop on sun-damaged skin, but some people find this form of skin cancer on parts of their bodies that are never exposed. You can’t pick at them or needle them to get them out, because they are imbedded in the lower layer of the skin. Basal cell carcinomas often itch or bleed, and if they are left untreated for a number of years, eventually form pitted scars in the skin, sometimes up to 30 mm (a little more than an inch) deep.
The irritation that a basal cell carcinoma can cause should not be underestimated. After just one or two years this tiny skin cancer can cause itch and bleeding night and day, and cause sleep disturbances and cosmetic issues that set you up for other health issues.
How Doctors Treat Basal Cell Carcinomas
Dermatologists usually remove basal cell carcinomas with liquid nitrogen. Painless and efficient, the procedure freezes the cancerous skin and, when performed by a doctor, leaves healthy skin intact. Larger basal cell carcinomas, especially when they occur on the forehead or nose, may require minor plastic surgery with careful attention to wound care for several weeks to achieve a cosmetically acceptable result.
Don’t try removing basal cell carcinomas with liquid nitrogen at home. And don’t use certain natural remedies like bloodroot salve (Sanguinaria), either. Bloodroot is caustic, and burns into the healthy layers of the skin. Treating yourself with bloodroot hurts, and will leave a scar. Even worse, if you happen to apply the herbal remedy to a melanoma or other “spreading” cancer, you risk trapping bits and pieces of the cancer underneath the scar tissue bloodroot salve leaves on your skin. Underneath the scar, these more serious forms of skin cancer may go undetected until treatment requires extensive surgery.
Using Curcumin to Treat Basal Cell Carcinoma
Curcumin is the safe and effective natural treatment for basal cell carcinoma. The thing to understand about using curcumin to treat this common form of skin cancer is that you use it on you, not in you.
Curcumin creams are the most effective way to deliver curcumin directly to the skin. Curcumin is not especially soluble in water, so it is difficult for the small intestine to absorb curcumin for circulation into the bloodstream. Applying a curcumin cream directly to the skin, however, bypasses this problem.
Just dab little bit of any skin care cream containing curcumin directly on the basal cell carcinoma both in the morning and before you go to bed at night, but the curcumin cream on your skin first if you wear makeup. You can use any makeup in your skin tone to cover up any orange tint in the cream.
How does curcumin curtail the progression of basal cell carcinoma?
Basically, curcumin “flips the switch” for a process called apoptosis. Curcumin deactivates a protein¹ called NF-KappaB (nuclear factor kappa-light-chain-enhancer of activated B cells). When this protein is inactive, skin cancer cells stop repairing themselves and die², and the basal cell carcinoma literally dries up and falls off.
So why not just use curcumin creams instead of seeing a dermatologist?
While you actually can treat basal cell carcinoma yourself with simple remedies like curcumin, you probably can’t accurately diagnose your skin problems. You need to see a physician to rule out the possibility of other less common but more serious types of skin cancer before they get too far along by seeing your doctor on a regular basis, at least once a year.
Frequently Asked Questions About Curcumin for Skin Cancer
Q. Do I have to use curcumin creams to protect my skin? Is it OK to take a curcumin supplement?
A. The latest scientific research finds that curcumin creams and curcumin supplements are functionally equivalent in skin care³. Curcumin is more readily absorbed through the skin that from a supplement taken by mouth, but nutritional supplements provide curcumin in a much larger dose.
Q. Is curcumin useful on sun-damaged skin?
A. Taiwanese medical researchers publishing their findings in the medical journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine report that curcumin is specifically helpful in reversing skin damaged caused by the UV-B spectrum of sunlight. It reduces inflammation caused by overexposure to the sun, and initiates the process of apoptosis (programmed cell death) in cells that have DNA that has been damaged by the sun before they can become cancerous.
Q. What about curcumin for cuts and scrapes?
A. Either a curcumin based cream or a cream that contains turmeric and ginger will accelerate healing of the skin after cuts and scrapes. Apply curcumin creams to skin abrasions as soon as possible, covering the curcumin cream with a bandage so the antioxidant power of the cream is used by the skin, rather than allowing the curcumin to oxidize with exposure to the atmosphere.
Q. Where can I find curcumin-based skin creams?
A. If you are interested in cosmetic skin care, you might want to invest about US $130 the Skin Recovery System, available online and at cosmetics counters in the United States and Canada, or you might want to buy at least their Skin Recovery System antioxidant formula (for $29. 95 or less). These products together moisturize the skin and protect against wrinkling and age spots as well as slowing or reversing basal cell carcinoma. They are best for dry or very dry skin. They are also relatively pricey.
If you have normal to oily skin, try Dr. Nicholas Perricone’s Sun Kissed tinted moisturizer. An excellent source of curcumin for you skin, the product moisturizes your skin and also offers SPF-25 sun protection. Avoid this product, however, if you have dry or very dry skin.
If you have sensitive or allergy-prone skin, you may want to try Clear Face Turmeric Cream by Passport to Organics, available online and in stores. This product also contains a variety of ingredients in addition to turmeric, but it is considerably less expensive than the Skin Recovery System.
If you have oily skin, a good curcumin product for you is Thai Organic Soap. Although this import from Thailand misspells “turmeric” on the label, it is a good alternative for oily skin, and for skin types that form brown spots after irritation.
The bargain basement brand of curcumin creams is Vicco curcumin cream with sandalwood oil. It contains a number of chemical preservatives and stabilizers, including methyl and propyl parabens and sodium hydroxide (lye). Some people who have sensitive skin will have problems with this product, although there is no doubt that it contains an effective dose of curcumin a form that the skin can absorb.
Q. Isn’t eggplant extract a form of curcumn?
A. Not only is eggplant extract not a form of curcumin, eggplant extract is not even made from eggplants. The Australian “eggplant” is better known as Devil’s apple. It’s in the same family as garden-variety eggplants, but you can’t make a healing poultice from the eggplants you get at the market or grow in your own backyard, unless you happen to have access to seeds of the plant Solanum linnaeum. If you don’t get the right plant, the product won’t work.
- Thangapazham RL, Sharad S, Maheshwari RK. Skin regenerative potentials of curcumin.
- Anto RJ, Venkatraman M, Karunagaran D. Inhibition of NF-kappaB sensitizes A431 cells to epidermal growth factor-induced apoptosis, whereas its activation by ectopic expression of RelA confers resistance. J Biol Chem. 2003 Jul 11; 278(28): 25490-8. Epub 2003 Apr 24.
- Sonavane K, Phillips J, Ekshyyan O, Moore-Medlin T, Roberts Gill J, Rong X, Lakshmaiah RR, Abreo F, Boudreaux D, Clifford JL, Nathan CA. Topical curcumin-based cream is equivalent to dietary curcumin in a skin cancer model. J Skin Cancer. 2012; 2012: 147863. doi: 10. 1155/2012/147863. Epub 2012 Dec 13. PMID: 23316365 [PubMed – in process]