Maintenance therapy for a myeloma patient includes curcumin

Okay, the holidays are finally over…I have been giving my brain a bit of a rest but am now ready to start reading the studies that have been collecting dust on my desktop…

Today, though, since I have some translations to do, I only have enough time to post about a recently-published abstract that I just read, see: Here we have the case of a 39-year-old man with IgG kappa myeloma (my type, incidentally) who failed two chemo treatments but responded to other chemo combos, had an autologous SCT (stem cell transplant), then a kidney transplant that, however, didn’t go very well…anyway, you can go read the whole story…the poor guy had a very difficult time of it…

But this is the part that I really wanted to highlight: His maintenance therapy, in addition to six 2-week-long cycles of bortezomib separated by 1-week rest periods, includes cyclosporine (50 mg twice daily), prednisone (10 mg daily), and curcumin (9 g daily).

Wait a sec…what was that again??? Let’s see…bortezomib, cyclosporine, prednisone and…er…curcumin??? I was absolutely stunned when I first read that sentence. Pleased, too, obviously. But mainly, stunned.

I mean, here we have curcumin being used as part of a conventional myeloma treatment…This is the first time, I think!, that I have read anything of the sort…I sincerely hope it’s not the last…oh, I really hope so…


  1. Yes, Margaret, this is a fascinating case of a very unfortunate man who presented quite early with IgG-kappa MM in his 30’s.

    Two things stand out here including the fact that it appears the Velcade (bortezomib) improved his renal (kidney) function after several other agents had failed. Since his underlying disease is MM it’s not surprising but very encouraging to see since this is one of the newer drugs having efficacy in myeloma.

    Secondly as you point out it is quite something to CURCUMIN listed as part of a treatment regimen in a traditional medical paper. WOW! It just shows how we in medicine have to keep an open mind regarding non-traditional therapies of disease.

    I was always very negative about these neutraceuticals in the past especially with the lack of quality control etc. However now that I have smouldering myeloma I have become more accepting of these therapies as long as there is experimental evidence of efficacy. I am quite willing to try them out especially since MM is such a potentially devastating disorder.

    I am also taking Curcumin and Reservatrol but it looks like I might have to increase my dosages. Actually this is a problem because I don’t think at this time we really know the best dosage for these agents. But it seems there is very little downside except when I read that some of these compounds may interfere with traditional chemotherapy drugs.


  2. I am fortunate since my oncologist has become a curcumin believer. He encourages me to take it (I take 6 g/day), and has agreed to allow me to take it when I go back on Velcade soon. This is for two reasons: 1) I cannot take the other “door opener” most take w/Velcade – dexamethasone, and, 2) I learned from Dr. Aggarwal (who does curcumin studies at MD Anderson), that curcumin improves the efficacy of Velcade. They work synergistically.

    Having said this, I would not recommend that anyone else try this w/o their oncologist’s permission. Hopefully, it will work for me; I’ll let you know…

  3. Gerry,

    Yes, that is what I mean…the dex enhances the power of the Velcade (and perhaps vice versa?). I always think of dex as the mechanism that “opens the door” so that the Velcade or other chemo drug can enter the cell and do its thing more efficiently. However, it causes steroid-induced myopathy in me (basically cripples me), so I can’t take it. My hope is that the curcumin will fulfill the role of dex instead. Dr. Aggarwal has given me hope that this may be true. He says that curcumin “increases the efficacy of Velcade”. Will shall see.

  4. Interesting post, Margaret. I consider to increase my intake of curcuma slightly from 4.8 grams to 6 grams (9 gram is much. That means i must be careful when traveling by plane: before i know they think that i am a terrorist with yellow explosives! Fortunately I rarely travel by air. 🙂

    I’ve noticed that increasing curcuma when I had (little) pain in my ribs that the pain disappeared!


  5. Margaret & Other Blog Readers,

    What a small world. The article referenced was about me. I am the very blessed man who lost both his kidneys to kappa myleoma but lived to tell the tale. It’s amazing to think how life is so fragile and how it can change in an instant. But what is even more amazing, is our ability to bounce back with the right love, believe and treatment. For me it was easy since I had and still have everything to live for….a very loving wife and two wonderful kids.

    Although, I was technically in remission after the SCT, it took 3 long years before anyone would consider me for a kidney transplant. It took a bold Dr Barry Kahan (one of the article’s authors) to believe in me and put me forward for the kidney transplant. I thank that man so much for giving me the opportunity to return to full health. But most of all I thank my wonderful wife for donating one of her precious kidney’s. We were one before but more so now.

    Just for the record, there was no doctor recommending Curcumin as maintenance therapy but myself after reading your blog site. In fact I did know about Curcumin five years ago when I lost my kidneys but it was early days with Dr Aggarwhal and I could not take it anyway since I was on dialysis (very limited diet). I started taking Curcumin 28th Mar 2009 instead of dexamethasone (another potent cortiosteroid) for maintenance and so far so good. 9g is the superdose I take every night before bedtime. I melt the curcumin (Doctor’s Best brand) in a small saucepan with 1 tsbp of organic butter before adding 1/2 cup of organic milk and some cumin and garlic, especially if someone in the family has the sniffles.

    Also, with respect to the LCDD returning with vengeance after only 3 days into kidney transplant, I believe this is something to do with the “sleeping” myeloma cells being reawakened. I think that if the body or mind becomes stressed (e.g. major surgery) then this provides the right environment for myeloma cells to thrive.

    As you can expect, I undergo regular blood work for monitoring the kidney and kappa/lamda free light chains (serum assay). My free kappa levels never fall within normal range but my lamda tends to be OK. Typically, my kappa/lamda ratio ranges between 10 and 20. As for my creatinine levels, this has never fell within normal range since the transplanted kidney was damaged when the LCDD struck. Normally it hovers around 1.7. This is good enough for a 40 yr father who still plays his beloved soccer every week.

    As said previously, I am a very blessed man who has undergone a journey that has returned to what I once was physically but more importantly changed my life’s perspective. Every day we live is truly a gift. You don’t really appreciate something until you lose it. Anyway, I hope by sharing this personal account will give others hope who are dealing with MM.

    Please keep up your blog site since it is the best ever. All the best for 2010 and beyond.

  6. Hi – I have been following Margaret’s site since my husband was DX with MM in Feb. 08. I am interested in Toms story as my husband presented with renal failure. Scott was treated with Dex, Thalidomide ( his kidneys failed & he started dialysis 3 times a week), then velcade & cyclo. which let him up to his Auto SCT in Aug. 07. I was in tougch with Dr. Aggarwall & he along with Margart’s info helped me put Scott on a supplement regime which included curcumin – at one point 8 grams daily. Scott ran into trouble with anemia & his Dr. recommended we cut out the curcumin for a spell until we got him stable. I now have to give Scott a needle to help him produce red blood cells every two weeks. The most important info is that Scott reached a VGPR (very good partial remission) and his kidneys bounced back enough ( 30% function) and he was taken off dialysis ( I pushed & pushed & the Dr’s finaly agreed). Scott has been off dialysis since April 09. We have our life back. Scott has been on curcumin for a year & a half – I truly believe that it is responsible for his level of remission & his kidney improvement. We go to see his oncologist today – YIKES – & I hope that all is still well – we are heading to Barbados for a two week vacation with our 5 & 7 year old sons in two weeks. We are celebrating our 10th anniversary & the simple fact that Scott can swim with his kids this year because he no longer has the dialysis hook up in his chest. I will go ahead & read Tom’s article & would love to be in touch with him too. Scott was 48 & our kids were 3 & 5 when he was DX. He also was able to visit las Vegas ( bucket list trip) with 20 of our friends & family to celebrate his 50th b-day in June 09. I believe he will be with us for a long time yet – these forums & the ability to help on eanother is key. Thank you.
    Shannon Myles
    Ontario Canada

  7. Shannon — I empathize at what an ordeal you and husband went through at a relatively young age — 48 yrs old. I am very glad to hear he is doing well and no doubt the curcumin did help but he also received traditional chemotherapy and ASCT which also played a role in his recovery.

    It is very unfortunate that such therapy is still fraught with complications and hopefully in the future medical research will provide more specific, less toxic treatment. I am interested to know what else Dr Aggarwal suggested besides the curcumin. Gerry

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