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Turmeric milk can’t cure asthma or cancer

A Facebook post claims that turmeric mixed with milk can treat and cure a number of ailments. 

The turmeric plant is part of the ginger family. Its underground stems are orange-yellow, have a peppery aroma and are used to make the spice turmeric.

Asthma and cancer are among the diseases the post claims this mixture can cure. Is this correct? We spoke to medical experts. 


Asthma sometimes life threatening

According to the Mayo Clinic, a US medical non-profit centre, asthma is a condition where a person’s airways narrow. Sometimes the body also makes extra mucus. 

“This can make breathing difficult and trigger coughing, a whistling sound (wheezing) when you breathe out and shortness of breath,” says the clinic.

Asthma can be life threatening. 

Prof Refiloe Masekela, a lung specialist and head of paediatrics and child health at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa, told Africa Check that asthma has various causes. It’s sometimes genetic but can also be caused by an allergy. 

Masekela said that turmeric milk would not cure asthma. Rather, she advised people with asthma to take medicine prescribed to them by a doctor.

If someone is having an asthma attack, Masekela said they should be given their medication. If they are “unable to talk in sentences, have severe shortness of breath and blueness around the lips” they should be taken to hospital. 

Turmeric milk does not prevent or stop breast cancer

The Facebook post also claims that the turmeric mixture “prevents and stops the growth of breast, skin, lung, prostate, and colon cancers, since it has anti-inflammatory properties”. 

Prof Michael Herbst, a health specialist and patient advocate from the Cancer Association of South Africa, said not to follow this advice. 

“Even though turmeric may have anti-cancer properties, it will most probably not cure breast cancer on its own. It will also not prevent breast cancer.”

For more information about the medical myths surrounding antioxidants, including those found in turmeric, read this Africa Check guide.  

Herbst said home treatments for cancer were not “safe or effective”. He said patients should take the medication prescribed by their doctor. You should also inform your doctor if you start taking a home remedy, as it could affect your treatment.

Claims that turmeric milk can cure asthma and cancer are false.

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