Since the turn of the century, more than 50 clinical trials have tested curcumin – the pigment in turmeric that gives it that bright yellow color.

These suggest the spice can protect against lung disease, myeloma, cancers of the pancreas, colon and breast as well as Alzheimer’s, heart disease and depression. It has also been shown to help speed recovery after surgery and effectively treat arthritis.

Writing in BMJ Case Reports, Dr Zaidi said: “Curcumin is a polyphenol derived from the perennial herb turmeric and has – for centuries – been used as a traditional Indian medicine.

“Several reports published over the two decades have claimed various health benefits of curcumin and this has led to its increasing popularity as a dietary supplement to prevent or treat a number of different diseases.

“The biological activity of curcumin is indeed remarkable. “It produces multiple effects through its “natural antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and analgesic properties.” Dr Zaidi said: “More recently it has demonstrated anti-proliferative effects in a wide variety of tumor cells including myeloma cells and exerts its antiproliferative effects through multiple cellular targets that regulate cell growth and survival.”

Mrs Ferguson was diagnosed with myeloma in 2007 and seemed to have little hope when she began taking curcumin in 2011.

Dr Zaidi said: “Over the past decade, advances in the understanding of the disease, together with the development of several novel treatments, have led to significant improvements in overall survival. “Despite this, myeloma remains incurable, with a median overall survival of 5.2 years from diagnosis. The course of the disease is typically one of recurrent remission and relapse.

“However, patients progressively acquire resistance to treatment and subsequent remissions become shorter and shorter.” Some seek to use dietary supplements but while they may help to improve the quality of life there is little evidence they can increase survival.

Dr Zaidi said: “Among them, curcumin, the active constituent of turmeric, has gained popularity as a complementary therapy in several cancers. “Here, we present a case of a heavily pretreated relapsing myeloma patient who, in the absence of further treatment options at the time, started daily curcumin and has since remained stable for the past five years.”

Mrs. Dieneke continues to take curcumin without further anti-myeloma treatment and her cancer cell count is negligible.

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