Preclinical and clinical research suggests turmeric compounds could help treat lymphoma, myeloma, and MGUS.
White Blood Cells

Natural Turmeric Help for Lymphoma and Multiple Myeloma

Lymphomas and myelomas form from abnormal B and T cell kinds of white blood cells. The turmeric compound curcumin could help prevent and treat lymphoma and multiple myeloma, according to some researchers. (vi.19)

What is Lymphoma?

Malignant tumors that occur in lymph tissue are called lymphomas. There are two main types of lymphoma: (vi.202203)

  • Hodgkin's lymphoma or disease
  • Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma

Hodgkin's lymphoma develops from DNA mutations in B cells. These abnormal, over-sized cells are also referred to as Reed-Sternberg cells. Most non-Hodgkin's types of lymphoma are B cell lymphomas, but some involve T cells. (vi.202)

Typical of cancer cells, both Hodgkin's and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma cells have uncontrolled growth. Lymphoma cells live longer than normal cells and crowd out healthy blood cells in the lymph nodes. Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma cancer can also spread to other parts of the lymphatic system, including the tonsils, thymus, and bone marrow. (vi.203204)

What is Multiple Myeloma?

Plasma cells are produced from B-cells. There are different types of plasma cells, and each produces its own type of antibody protein which helps the body fight infection. Antibodies are also known as immunoglobulins, and are formed from combinations of molecules referred to as heavy and light chains(vi.205206)

Multiple myeloma (MM) is a type of cancer caused by overproduction of a specific plasma cell that produces M-protein types of immunoglobulin. Subtypes of M-proteins are defined by the particular combination of heavy chain and light chain molecules they are made of. There are 5 forms of heavy chains and 2 different light chain forms. The different types of M-proteins and the chains they're made of are important because some have a higher risk of progressing to cancer. (vi.205207208)

Plasma Disorders can Progress to Multiple Myeloma

In plasma disorders and MM, excess light chain molecules that are not bound to heavy chain molecules (free light chains) are produced and enter the bloodstream. Free light chains come in different forms. Abnormal ratios of the kappa to lambda forms of free light chains increase the risk of cancer in patients with plasma disorders. These abnormal ratios also worsen the prognosis of people who already have MM. (vi.205207)

Most cases of multiple myeloma develop from plasma cell disorders. Two of the more common types of plasma disorders are: (vi.206209)

These conditions typically show no clinical symptoms. Just as in MM, plasma disorders are characterized by overproduction of plasma cells that produce high levels of M-proteins — but less than those of MM. Approximately 19% of people with plasma disorders develop MM. (vi.206209)

Although current clinical practice is to monitor these patients for signs of progression, researchers are exploring ways to prevent these potentially precancerous conditions from becoming cancer. Results of recent clinical trials suggest that turmeric's curcumin compounds may help slow progression to multiple myeloma in patients with MGUS and SMM. (vi.207208)

Symptoms of Multiple Myeloma and Lymphoma

Symptoms for Hodgkin's and non-Hodgkin's lymphomas include: (vi.202-204)

Symptoms for multiple myeloma depend upon the stage of disease. Premalignant plasma disorders are typically asymptomatic. Symptoms in patients who have fully developed MM include abnormal levels of or unexplained: (vi.205209)

What Are the Causes or Risk Factors for Lymphoma and Multiple Myeloma?

Hodgkin's lymphoma typically occurs in young adults and is not as common as non-Hodgkin's types of lymphoma. Possible risk factors for Hodgkin's lymphoma include: (vi.17201202210)

  • Having a sibling with the disease.
  • History of Epstein-Barr viral infection, such as infectious mononucleosis.
  • Male gender.
  • Suppressed or weakened immune system (e.g., from HIV/AIDS or organ transplant drugs).

Non-Hodgkin's types of lymphoma typically occur in older people, and are some of the most common types of cancer in the United States. Possible risk factors for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma include: (vi.124201203)

Plasma disorders can also lead to non-Hodgkin's lymphomas (chronic lymphocytic and lymphoplasmacytic types of lymphomas). (vi.208)

Possible risk factors for multiple myeloma include: (vi.205207)

  • Chemical/carcinogen exposure — significantly higher risk in people exposed to high levels of:
    • Herbicides and insecticides (such as farmers).
    • Benzene and organic solvents (such as workers in the petrochemical industry).
    • Possible increased risk with radiation and/or uranium exposure.
    • Long term exposure to hair dye linked to higher incidence of MM.
  • Hereditary link (possible).
  • Herpes virus 8 (HPV8) infections (of bone marrow cells) have been found in patients with MM and in some MGUS patients.
  • Male gender.
  • Older age.
  • Plasma disorders (MGUS and SMM in particular, with SMM representing a higher risk).
    • In those with plasma disorders, certain types of M-proteins increase the risk of progression to cancer.
  • Race (more prevalent in African Americans and black Africans than whites).

Turmeric Activity against Multiple Myeloma and Lymphoma

Results of lab, animal, and human clinical studies suggest that the turmeric compound curcumin may be able to directly and indirectly prevent and treat lymphoma and multiple myeloma. Curcumin could even help treat mantle cell lymphoma (MCL), an aggressive type of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma(vi.192067)

Turmeric's curcumin may also counteract cancer cell resistance to standard therapies. Conventional treatment for blood cancers sometimes includes combinations of chemo drugs, but some types (such as MCL) are often resistant to these medications. (vi.192067212)

Table VI.22: Evidence of Turmeric's Curcumin Compound Effects in Lymphoma & Multiple Myeloma


Oral doses of curcumin helped overcome MM resistance to conventional chemotherapy drugs. (vi.20)



  • Inflammatory cytokine proteins that promote cancer development and growth. (vi.56)
  • Ability of myeloma cells to survive. (vi.56)
  • Caspase enzymes that carry out cell death. (vi.67)
  • May help combat obesity, a risk factor for MM. (vi.213)


(On cells taken from patients with MM.)


(Plasma disorder that can lead to MM.)

A clinical study was conducted involving MGUS patients with elevated M-protein levels. Patients were randomly assigned to take either 2 grams of curcumin or a placebo twice a day. Preliminary results showed the following: (vi.209)

  • Curcumin supplements significantly lowered M-proteins in some patients.
  • Levels were reduced by 5-30% within one week of treatment and remained lowered when tested 3 months later.

Pilot Clinical Study

Clinical Trial


(Plasma disorders that can lead to MM.)

This study was an extension of the above randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial. The patients were all given 8 g/day of curcumin (increased from the 4 g/day doses in the initial 3 month study). (vi.207)

Results showed that curcumin helped normalize free light chain ratios. This suggests curcumin could help slow progression to cancer in some patients with MGUS and SMM. (vi.207)

Open Clinical Trial

Clinical Trial


(A B cell type of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.)

May help combat obesity, a risk factor for non-Hodgkin's lymphomas. (vi.213)



HDAC inhibitors such as curcumin may help treat this non-Hodgkin's type of lymphoma. (vi.212)





Curcumin increased the effectiveness of cyclophosphamide chemotherapy in lymphoma cells. (vi.212)



A patient who rapidly progressed from MGUS to advanced myeloma underwent cycles of various chemotherapy drugs (including cyclophosphamide and thalidomodide) but the cancer still progressed. The chemotherapy also caused significantly toxic side effects. Stem cell therapy only produced a partial response, and further attempts to harvest stem cells failed. (vi.494)

As her disease advanced, the woman conducted her own internet research and decided to try curcumin from turmeric. In early 2011, she began taking 8 grams/day of curcumin, in a single dose on an empty stomach each night. She added hyperbaric oxygen therapy once a week a few months later. (vi.494495)

Since then her blood counts improved to normal levels. Clinical markers for myeloma declined to precancerous levels and continue to hold steady 5 years later. The woman continues to take daily curcumin and weekly hyperbaric oxygen therapy, but has not had any further chemotherapy or stem cell treatments. (vi.494)

2017 Case Report

Other Turmeric Compounds That May Help Block Lymphoma and Multiple Myeloma

Turmeric contains phytochemical compounds and nutrients in addition to curcumin that research suggests can have beneficial effects against lymphoma. These include:

Table VI.23: Turmeric's Phytochemical and Nutrient Effects in Lymphoma and Multiple Myeloma

EUGENOL (vi.74)

Antioxidant compound that helps prevent thymic lymphoma caused by radiation. (vi.78)

LIMONENE (vi.74)

  • Development of lymphomas. (vi.82)
  • Survival time in an animal study on mice with lymphoma. (vi.124)

RESVERATROL (vi.83168)

Caused ERSR-induced cell death in Burkitt's lymphoma cells. (vi.168)

Small proteins produced as part of the immune system response to illness or injury. (vi.3787)
First responders that trigger gene activity. (vi.39)
M protein levels in the blood less than 30 g/L. (vi.207)
M protein levels in the blood greater than 30 g/L. (vi.207)
Mature B cells. (vi.209)
Fever with chills can be a symptom for Hodgkin's lymphoma. (vi.203)
For Hodgkin's lymphoma. (vi.203)
For Hodgkin's lymphoma. (vi.203)
For Hodgkin's lymphoma. (vi.203)
For non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. (vi.204)
Over 20 years. (vi.206)
High dose chemotherapy combined with stem cell transplant may extend overall survival in young patients who can withstand the treatment, but MCL is still incurable. (vi.19)
Thalidomide, bortezomib, dexamethasone, doxorubicin, and melphalan. (vi.20)
Such as Bcl-2, which is also overproduced in follicular lymphoma. (vi.19)
Technically known as apoptosis. (vi.89)
B-cell type of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. (vi.212)

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