What is Curcumin and How Is It Used?Curcumin is an extract of an ancient medicinal and cooking herb, turmeric, that has been used throughout the middle east and Asia for more than 7000 years. Curcumin is a root, and is a member of the ginger family. It has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine. What makes it unique is that it has a multi-ring structure called a polyphenolic ring; this ring structure allows it to absorb multiple free radicals, thus making it a powerful antioxidant. Since it scavenges free radicals and reactive oxygen species, curcumin shows a great deal of therapeutic promise in many areas.
How Does the Body Absorb Curcumin?Curcumin in its raw, natural form is not very bioavailable (isn't absorbed well by the body). In traditional cultures (in Indian and Persian cooking), however, curcumin is generally dissolved in some sort of oil or taken with a sulfurated protein such as yogurt, coconut milk or dairy milk which may possibly make it more bioavailable (absorbable). Our highly absorbable curcumin supplement, Curcumin Rapid Absorb, is made using a specialized technology in the way it is mixed to produce spheres of curcumin dissolved in oil which is then rapidly absorbed by the body. This makes absorption more effective than even the traditional methods of simply mixing the curcumin in oil. Many curcumin supplements on the market today do not contain this technology, and most others I've seen that do, use soybean oil rather than healthier sunflower oil. Unlike some formulations, we do not use Bioperine® for bioavailability as there are very few human studies of this substance. Another reason we prefer to not use it is that it contains piperine, a black pepper extract that has been shown to be toxic in mice, rats and hamsters when given in large amounts.1 Piperine can also have interactions with prescription medications, including blood pressure and epilepsy medications.2
Curcumin is Showing Great Promise in a Supportive Role in Cancer StudiesThere are promising studies that suggest curcumin may induce the preferential death of cancer cells over normal cells, and may even change the way DNA is expressed in cancer cells making them unable to repair themselves while preserving the ability of normal cells to do so.3 It is shown in to have other anti-cancer benefits such as inhibiting cancer cell proliferation,4 and inducing killing of cancer cells in different ways (as well as apoptotic cell death).5,6 Curcumin combined with citral (basically an extract from the oils of lemon grasses/plants) has been shown to arrest the growth of cancerous cells and may be a “useful therapeutic intervention for breast cancer.”7 Clinical studies are under way which suggest that curcumin may work synergistically with certain chemotherapy medications possibly making them more effective and reducing their side effects.8,9,10 It is showing other promising anti-carcinogenic benefits in all stages of various types of tumors.11,12,13 It is possible that curcumin could become a supportive beneficial non-toxic part of a prescribed regimen for cancer patients in the future.14,15,16
Curcumin Has Anti-Inflammatory Properties
Normalizing Joint and Muscle Flexibility and FunctionJoint and muscle aches and pains cause many people to run to the over-the-counter NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), such as ibuprofen, or to an analgesic such as acetaminophen. However, when pain is severe enough, stronger pain relievers may be prescribed by a physician. For instance, NSAIDS are often prescribed for arthritis. Many doctors and patients are aware of the side effects of NSAIDS– some of which are gastrointestinal ulcers and bleeds, and kidney complications; also, analgesic pain relievers which can cause liver damage. Curcumin can help support normal joint function and mobility, normal lung function, and decrease lung inflammation, and does not cause gastrointestinal ulcers or kidney side effects. Curcumin has excellent anti-inflammatory properties.17,18 Curcumin is a natural COX-2 inhibitor which means it works by inhibiting cyclooxygenase-2 (an enzyme that causes inflammation and pain). This action, in turn, triggers the release of prostaglandin (which aids in muscle repair).19 The anti-inflammatory properties curcumin has, and the effects it has on joint function, normalization and joint flexibility are truly remarkable.20 Where joint function is concerned, research is showing that curcumin treatment may even actually help to change the environment of cells in a way that aids in the “regeneration of articular cartilage.”21 There are many diseases in which inflammation is a key problem – autoimmune disease is one such class of diseases which include rheumatoid arthritis and ulcerative colitis. Curcumin has been used for hundreds of years for its anti-inflammatory properties in Ayurvedic medicine, and is now showing promise in the treatment of joint dysfunction and inflammation in western medicine.22
Are There Any Common Diseases in Which Inflammation Is a Factor?There are many diseases in which we now realize inflammation plays a large part. One of the causes of Alzheimer's disease is now believed to be neuroinflammation. In some animal studies, some anti-inflammatory substances have been shown to visually clear the plaques and tangles that are the hallmarks of the brain changes associated with Alzheimer's disease. With regard to heart disease, arterial inflammation is a significant contributor to forming arterial clot; therefore, decreasing inflammation is protective to arteries and the heart. Inflammatory bowel disease: As its name suggests, in both Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, inflammation plays a large role. Please look for our future article on this topic. In brief, while ulcerative colitis is a true autoimmune disease wherein the body attacks itself and causes inflammation, it is thought that Crohn's disease may result from a weakened immunity locally, at the intestine (gut) wall, which allows bacteria to seep in and start an inflammatory process. A recent study suggests that a combination of curcumin and flunixin (a combination NSAID, analgesic and antipyretic drug) may “be beneficial to patients with inflammatory bowel disease.”23
Can Curcumin Help Normalize Inflammation?Curcumin is being experimented with where neurological health and memory is concerned for its cognition-enhancing effects as well as anti-inflammatory properties.24,25,26 Curcumin shows promise in supporting normalization of cholesterol transport in diseased arteries and decreasing inflammation in the walls of arteries.27 It has been suggested that curcumin may have therapeutic potential in lessening oxidative stress and cell death.28 There is also some evidence that curcumin may help the body in the removal of harmful cholesterol.29,30 Studies are ongoing and suggest “bright prospects” with regard the use of curcumin in normalizing inflammation in the gut (intestine).31 The benefits of curcumin have been known for hundreds (if not thousands) of years in eastern countries and ancient cultures. Happily, curcumin is being recognized in the here and now in western medicine as having very beneficial properties, and without toxic side-effects. Please visit Doctor Emi's Natural Health Store specifically our Curcumin Rapid Absorb, which, as its name suggests, is rapidly absorbed into the system for maximum benefit. We use a technologically advanced, natural and non-toxic way of making our curcumin bioavailable. Our products are all third-party tested, made in the USA and achieve doses and blood levels necessary to see a positive effect.
Please Note!If you are taking any blood-thinning medications such as Warfarin (sold under the name Coumadin) or Clopidogrel (often sold as Plavix), do not take curcumin as it can also have a mild blood thinning effect.32 If you have any chronic medical conditions, are taking prescription medications, or are undergoing chemotherapy treatment, it is imperative you consult your physician or licensed health care professional prior to starting this, or any other dietary supplement. The Doctor Emi Team