Turmeric has been used in India for thousands of years as a spice and medicinal herb. Recent research has identified the powerful bioactive compound in turmeric as “curcumin”. Curcumin is responsible for turmeric’s bright yellow color, yet only 3% of turmeric is curcumin.
Some of the many benefits of taking curcumin as a supplement are:
Research has shown that curcumin can reduce the inflammatory enzymes 5-LOX. It is so powerful, that it can match the effectiveness of some anti-inflammatory drugs for joint pain (1,2). This anti-inflammatory effect also reduces systemic inflammation which is the starting point for most chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and dementia (3,4).
Improves Brain Function
We used to believe that we could not regrow brain cells like our skin, hair and other tissues. But, we now know that this is not true and we can grow new neurons from the effect of Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF). Curcumin has been shown to increase BDNF (5,6). This may be effective in delaying or reversing age-related brain disease. Curcumin also increases dopamine, which can be effective against Parkinson’s Disease (7) and other degenerative conditions of the brain. Curcumin has been shown to reduce amyloid plaques associated with Alzheimer’s (8).
Reduces Heart Disease
Curcumin may help reduce many steps of the heart disease process. Several studies show it can improve the health and function of arteries by reducing inflammation and oxidation. One study compares it to the benefits of exercise (9) and another study shows it works as well as the statin drug, Lipitor, in reducing total cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol (10).
Might Be a Natural Chemotherapy for Cancer
Studies have shown that curcumin can reduce the growth, the spread of, and kill cancer cells (11). Most of these are studies in the laboratory and animal models, but there is strong suggestions from human studies that also support these findings (12). In one study, men with precancerous colon lesions reduced the incidence of the lesions turning into cancer by 40% (13).
These research studies show great benefits to be gained from a curcumin supplement, but you have to TAKE THE RIGHT SUPPLEMENT to enjoy these benefits. Curcumin has poor bioavailability, meaning it is difficult for your digestive system to absorb it in its natural state. Most of the supplements used in these research studies are “Meriva” and “C3”. These products have been modified to enhance absorption. Meriva results in a 29 fold increase over natural curcumin (14). Also, as with any nutritional supplement, buying from a reputable source is critical. A study by consumerslab.com showed 20% of curcumin products on the market contained less than 15% of the curcuminoid compounds listed on the label.
The recommended dosage of curcumin is 500mg to 1,500mg per day. At a very high dosage, curcumin can thin the blood. Anyone on a blood thinner drug should not take more than 500 mg/ day unless they are monitoring with blood tests. Prescription blood thinners lead to over 53,000 deaths per year. Why can’t we use curcumin in their place (15)?
Curcumin has been used in Ayurvedic Medicine for thousands of years. It is one of Nature’s best gifts. It is a safe, inexpensive, natural therapy that might improve your quality of life.
- “Anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin, a major constituent of curcumin longa: a review of clinical research” Alternative Medicine Review, 2009, Sept. 277
- “A randomized, pilot study to assess the efficiency and safety in patients with active rheumatoid arthritis” Phytotherapy Research, Nov, 2012, 719-25
- “Product evaluation registry of Meriva, a phosphatidylcholine complex, for the complimentary management of osteoarthritis” Panminerva Medicine, 2010, June, 55-62
- ”Preliminary study on antirheumatic activity of curcumin”, Indian Journal Medical Research, 1980, April, 632-4
- “Curcumin reverses the effects of chronic stress on behavior, the HPA axis, BDNF expression and phosphorylation CREB”, Brain Research, 2006, Nov, 56-64
- “Antidepressant effects of curcumin in WKY rat model of depression is associated with an increase in hippocampal BDNF”, Behavioural Brain Research, 2013, Feb, 27-30
- “Curcumin: a potential protective agent in Parkinson’s Disease”, Current Pharmaceutical Design, 2012; 18:91-9
- ”Curcuminoids enhance beta-amyloid uptake by macrophages of Alzheimer’s Disease patients”, Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, 2006, Sept,1-7
- ”Curcumin ingestion and exercise training improve vascular endothelial function in postmenopausal women”, Nutritional Research, 2012, Oct, 795-9
- “Effect of NCB-10, atorvastatin and placebo on endothelial function and oxidative stress on patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus, a randomized, parallel group, placebo controlled, 8 week study”, Drugs R&D, 2008;9, 243-50
- “Curcumin and cancer cells: How many ways can curry kill tumor cells selectively?”, American Assoc. Of Pharmaceutical Scientists Journal, 2009, Sept, 495-510
- ”Curcumin downregulates the constitutive activity of NF-kappaB and induces apoptosis in novel mouse melanoma cells”, Melanoma Research, 2007, Oct, 274-83
- “Phase IIa clinical trial of curcumin for the prevention of colorectal neoplasia, Cancer Prevention Research, Dec, 2012, 1158
- “Comparartive absorption of standardized curcuminoid mixture and its lecithin formulation”, Journal of Natural Products, 2011
- “Anticoagulant activities of curcumin and its derivative”, BMB Reports, 2012,Apr., 221-6, Korean Society for Biochemistry and molecular Biology