Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a culinary spice, a major ingredient in Indian curries, and the source of American mustard’s bright yellow color. Used as both medicine and food for centuries, accumulating evidence suggests that this relative of ginger is a promising preventive agent for a wide range of diseases, probably due largely to its anti-inflammatory properties.
Scientists recently determined that curcumin, the active compound found in turmeric and that produces the spice’s characteristic yellow color, can help support the healthy functioning of the “innate” immune system, which fights off foreign bacteria, viruses, and fungi when they first enter the body.
Curcumin has been reported in medical literature to help people with autoimmune disease like Fibromyalgia, Lupus & MS. In our research we found that the synergistic combination of Curcumin, resveratol, Co Q10, Omega 3 fatty acids along with Biofeedback has helped our clients with auto immune disease.
The National Institutes of Health lists 24 current studies on the effects of turmeric and its chief active component, curcumin. Such studies raise the question of which is better to take: whole turmeric, generally used as a powdered spice with food; or curcumin, which is usually taken as a supplement? Each has been shown to have health benefits, but unless you have a specific condition such as inflammatory bowel disease, I favor using turmeric (especially in cooking) rather than taking curcumin pills. This reflects my general belief that, until proven otherwise in head to head studies. On the other hand, curcumin appears to have a more rapid and dramatic effect, and may be the better choice as a therapeutic (rather than a preventative) preparation.
Other Published benefits of Curcumin/Tumeric:
Turmeric has been used most in medicine as an anti-inflammatory. This is because of both the amount of volatile oils contained in it as well as curcumin, which helps lessen inflammation in the arteries and joints.
Turmeric also has antioxidant properties. This means it helps prevent damage caused by free radicals in the body.
Because of its antioxidant properties, turmeric helps to prevent many types of cancer. This is because cancer often occurs when DNA is harmed. Turmeric prevents this from happening, thus decreasing a person’s chance of developing cancer.
The curcumin in turmeric also helps to enhance liver function by assisting the body in filtering out wastes much more efficiently.
One of the ways curcumin works with the liver is to increase the production of messenger proteins that focus on LDL (bad) cholesterol. The more messenger proteins there are, the more LDL will be processed and eliminated from the body, thus lowering cholesterol.
Epidemiologists have hypothesized that the turmeric that is part of daily curries eaten in India may help explain the low rate of Alzheimer’s disease in that country. Among people aged 70 to 79, the rate is less than one-quarter that of the United States.
In the Diet
If you are looking to get more turmeric into your diet, try eating a curry dish once per week. You can also add mustard to your sandwiches more often or simply purchase turmeric extract and consume it that way.
Curcumin carries out this role by ramping up the expression of a protein called cathelicidin antimicrobial peptide, or CAMP for short, that plays a key part in innate immune system activity. CAMP is the only known antimicrobial peptide of its kind in humans, according to the scientists.
A member of the ginger family, turmeric has been used in India both as a spice and in traditional Ayurvedic medicine for centuries, perhaps millennia.
In accord, Western medicine is increasingly finding evidence that supports the health benefits of curcumin, which heretofore have largely been attributed to the compound’s antioxidant properties. The newest finding that curcumin can support healthy immune system functioning may help explain some of curcumin’s other potential benefits. “It’s possible that sustained consumption over time may be healthy,” said Adrian Gombart, PhD, an associate professor of biochemistry and biophysics at the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University and one of the authors of the current study.
Dr. Gombart and his colleagues at Oregon State University collaborated with scientists from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark on the current study, which was published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry. The researchers tested to see whether curcumin and omega-3 fatty acids could increase expression of the CAMP gene, ultimately leading to increased CAMP protein levels. Whereas the omega-3s had no effect on CAMP gene expression, curcumin caused the levels of the gene to almost triple.
Research previously established that CAMP levels could be boosted by vitamin D. Although curcumin’s effects on CAMP are not as potent as that of vitamin D, the findings “point to a new avenue for regulating CAMP gene expression,” said Dr. Gombart. “It’s interesting and somewhat surprising that curcumin can do that, and could provide another tool to develop medical therapies.”
An overview published in Advanced Experimental Medical Biology in 2007 states that, “Curcumin has been shown to exhibit antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and anticancer activities and thus has a potential against various malignant diseases, diabetes, allergies, arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease and other chronic illnesses.”
This little-known natural healer has been used for over 4,500 years to treat a variety of conditions most of us face as we age.
Research shows that its anti-inflammatory properties can prevent bone and joint pain, and in some cases, significantly reduce the effects of rheumatoid arthritis.
It has also been used in various types of treatments for dementia and traumatic brain injury.
In fact, a recent study found that curcumin may help the macrophages to clear the amyloid plaques found in Alzheimer’s disease.
But that’s not all, recently Dr. Ayyagari, a professor of ophthalmology at the University of California, San Diego discovered that curcumin may be very helpful in slowing retinal degeneration.
Referred to as “The Golden Spice”, it’s clear to see why people are recently starting to show interest in this natural wonder.
Studies Show That Turmeric Curcumin May Also Help In These Areas:
– May help naturally fight depression
– Could promote Liver, Heart & Digestive Health
– May lower blood cholesterol levels
– Could lower blood glucose levels and reverse insulin resistance
– Has been shown to have a marked ability to prevent cancer cell growth
Published medical literature shows that Curcumin/Tumeric showed:
Prevented breast cancer from spreading to the lungs in mice.
May prevent melanoma and cause existing melanoma cells to commit suicide.
Reduces the risk of childhood leukemia.
May prevent metastases from occurring in many different forms of cancer.
Has shown promise in slowing the progression of multiple sclerosis in mice.
Is a natural painkiller and cox-2 inhibitor with less side effect that Celebrix.
May aid in fat metabolism and help in weight management.
Has long been used in Chinese medicine as a treatment for depression.
It is a natural treatment for arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis & MS.
Boosts the effects of chemo drug paclitaxel and reduces its side effects.
Studies are ongoing in the positive effects of turmeric on multiple myeloma & pancreatic cancer.
Speeds up wound healing and assists in remodeling of damaged skin.
May help in the treatment of psoriasis and other inflammatory skin conditions.
A new study from the Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine in Germany found a compound in turmeric a spice used in curry. can help the brain heal itself. Researchers injected the compound, called aromatic tumerone, into the brains of rats. Brain scans showed that the parts of the brain involved with nerve cell growth became more active. This leads to the thought that new cells might grow to repair a damaged brain.
The evidence is growing that curcumin, the substance in tumeric, should take a bigger role in the human diet for its ability to act as an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and lipid lowering agent. Western Australian researcher, Gautam Sethi, from Curtin University (Australia), and his colleagues see strong potential, based on this scientific review of past clinical trials, for curcumin and cancer. To date the studies are small in scope, but Sethi and his team see evidence for larger studies. Published in Molecules, Vol. 20, No. 2, Feb 2015.
curcumin_Small-e1386707213948ABSTRACT: Despite significant advances in treatment modalities over the last decade, neither the incidence of the disease nor the mortality due to cancer has altered in the last thirty years, according to a new research review in curcumin. The researchers cite that available anti-cancer drugs exhibit limited efficacy, are associated with severe side effects, and they are also expensive. Thus identification of pharmacological agents that do not have these disadvantages is required. Curcumin, a polyphenolic compound derived from turmeric (Curcumin longa), is one such agent that has been extensively studied over the last three to four decades for its potential anti-inflammatory and/or anti-cancer effects.
Curcumin has been found to suppress initiation, progression, and metastasis of a variety of tumors. These anti-cancer effects are predominantly mediated through its negative regulation of various transcription factors, growth factors, inflammatory cytokines, protein kinases, and other oncogenic molecules. It also abrogates proliferation of cancer cells by arresting them at different phases of the cell cycle and/or by inducing their apoptosis. The current review focuses on the diverse molecular targets modulated by curcumin that contribute to its efficacy against various human cancers.
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Curtin University adjunct research fellow Gautam Sethi says most diseases, including cancer, are caused by the deregulation of multiple genes. To treat cancer you need multi-targeted agents, better than mono-targeted agents, which have been used for the past few years, Associate Professor Sethi says. Multi-targeted agents are those that target more than one deregulated oncogenic signaling cascadesthey are more effective in treating cancer as it has been found that several genes are mutated in a given cancer. We can modulate several of such oncogenic genes, which are deregulated in cancer using curcumin.
A/Prof Sethi says curcumin is exceptionally effective for multiple myeloma patients and those suffering from the particularly lethal pancreatic cancer, for which there are no drugs. However, curcumin was not found to be as effective in breast cancer patients being treated with the chemotherapeutic agent cyclophosphamide. According to the research, curcumin can counteract the effect of cyclophosphamide.
Curcumin safe in high doses
A/Prof Sethi says curcumin is possibly the only drug that can be given at high dosesup to 12gwithout any toxicity. It can target most of the oncogenic proteins like NF-kB, STAT3, AP-1, he says.
A/Prof Sethi says the only known side effect of the agent is blood thinning, and therefore advises against taking curcumin if undergoing surgery. A/Prof Sethi says it would be ideal to combine curcumin with other drugs or natural compounds, like piperine, an alkaloid found in pepper to increase its bioavailabilty.
If we combine it with piperine we see viability increase by 2000 per cent 45 minutes after administering the curcumin, he says. A/Prof Sethi says there is a lack of data to explain the underlying mechanism of its effect, however, it is known for its anti-inflammatory effects. It has been shown that most chronic diseases, including cancer, are caused by inflammation and can be treated by anti-inflammatory agents.
He says more work needs to be done to improve curcumins viability, as body tissues quickly absorb it.
Study Excerpts for Multiple Myeloma and Pancreatic Cancer
(link at the bottom of this article for the full study and references)
The chemopreventive potential of curcumin in monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS), a high-risk condition for progression to multiple myeloma, was tested by Golombick et al., in a cross-over study design . Out of 27 patients, 17 received 4000 mg of curcumin for 3 months before cross-over to placebo. The rest received placebo first, followed by curcumin. The levels of paraprotein and urinary N-telopeptide from type I collagen decreased in some patients. The same group reported beneficial effects of curcumin in MGUS in another randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled cross-over study . A phase I/II trial by Vadhan-Raj et al., in 29 patients with asymptomatic, relapsed, or plateau phase multiple myeloma showed a decrease in expression of NF-κB, COX-2, and STAT3 in peripheral blood mononuclear cells and stable maintenance of disease . The patients were given either oral dose of curcumin alone (2000, 4000, 6000, 8000, or 12,000 mg/day) or in combination with 10 mg of bioperine. 12 patients continued the treatment for 12 weeks, followed by combination treatment for five patients (one at a dose of 4000, two at 6000 mg, and two at 8000 mg) for 1 year. Further, well-controlled clinical trials with larger sample sizes are required to substantiate the efficacy of curcumin against multiple myeloma.
Dhillon et al., conducted a phase II clinical trial in 25 advanced pancreatic cancer patients . An oral dose of 8000 mg of curcumin was given every day until disease progression, with restaging performed every 2 months. Low, steady-state levels of curcumin and its conjugates were detected in the peripheral circulation for the first 4 weeks with a peak at 2242 ng/mL. In two patients, a biological effect was seen and in one the disease was maintained stably for 18 months. Remarkably, a significant but brief tumor regression was seen in one patient with a concomitant increase in serum cytokine levels. NF-κB, COX-2, and STAT3 suppression in peripheral mononuclear cells was also observed in the patients. Although oral curcumin was found to be safe and well-tolerated, poor bioavailability still remains an issue, which partly explains the biologic activity observed only in some patients. In another open-label, phase II trial, a combination of curcumin and gemcitabine was tested in advanced pancreatic cancer patients . Seventeen patients were administered 8000 mg of curcumin orally every day for 4 weeks while 1000 mg/m3 of gemcitabine were given intravenously three times a week. In five patients, curcumin or the whole treatment was discontinued due to toxicity and one patient died suddenly. In the remaining 11 patients, a partial response was seen; four had stable disease while in six the tumor progressed. Tumor progression time was 112 months, with overall survival time of 124 months, indicating a modest efficacy of the combination therapy. Also, the authors concluded that 8000 mg/day of curcumin with gemcitabine was above the maximum tolerated dose. In a recent phase I/II trial by Kanai et al., a similar combination of gemcitabine and curcumin was used to treat gemcitabine-resistant pancreatic cancer in 21 patients . In contrast, the combination of gemcitabine and curcumin 8000 mg/day was found to be safe and well tolerated in this study. Studies in a larger cohort are required to validate the results.
A plethora of in vitro and in vivo research together with clinical trials conducted over the past few decades substantiate the potential of curcumin as an anti-cancer agent. At the molecular level, curcumin targets numerous pathways, highlighting its ability to inhibit carcinogenesis at multiple levels and thus, potentially circumventing the development of resistance. However, there is a paucity of data to explain the underlying mechanism of its activity. Clinical trials with curcumin indicate safety, tolerability, non-toxicity (even up to doses of 8000 mg/day), and efficacy. These studies provide a solid foundation for more well-controlled studies in larger cohorts as well as open avenues for future drug development. However, curcumin activity is limited by its poor bioavailability and some possible adverse effects. The development of formulations of curcumin in the form of nanoparticles, liposomes, micelles or phospholipid complexes to enhance its bioavailability and efficacy are still in its early stages. Nonetheless, curcumin has established itself as a safe and promising molecule for the prevention and therapy of not only cancer but also other inflammation-driven diseases.
The hallmark process associated with certain types of cognitive decline is the formation in the brain of abnormal protein structures. Normally when malformed proteins are formed with the brain, the immune system sends out cells known as macrophages, which engulf and destroy the proteins. If this ordinary function fails, defective proteins accumulate in the brain and cognitive decline can follow.
That’s why I was excited to read that recent research is showing that curcumin encourages the immune system to send macrophages to the brain. A landmark clinical trial involving people with severe cognitive decline measured the effects of curcumin. Amazingly, the participants taking curcumin had significantly higher levels of dissolved abnormal proteins in their blood compared to those in the placebo group.
This study showed that curcumin has the ability to effectively pass into the brain, bind to beta-amyloid plaques and assist the body in their breakdown. Curcumin is one of the only substances known to have such a profound protective effect on the brain.
Turmeric has a long history as a healing herb and culinary spice in India. Interestingly, India has the highest per capita consumption of turmeric AND the lowest incidence of cognitive decline worldwide.
How Can You Add Turmeric to Your Daily Diet?
The first thing you should know is that curcumin the main beneficial bioactive ingredient in turmeric is not soluble in water, but only in fats and oils. Therefore, its best to combine turmeric with healthy oils such as extra virgin olive or coconut oil whenever possible. Did you know that the main bioactive ingredient in black pepper seeds known as piperine can increase curcumin absorption by as much as 2,000%?
If you can handle it, the best way to get all of turmerics many health benefits is to consume whole fresh turmeric root mixed with a natural oil. Doing this enhances curcumins absorption into our bodies by as much as seven to eight-fold.
Are you adding Spice in Your Life?