Curcumin benefits and side effects
Curcumin in supplement form has become quite popular because of its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant qualities.
I’m going to go through Curcumin benefits and side effects so that you are fully informed about this in demand health supplement.
People often ask, is Curcumin good for inflammation? the answer to that is most definitely, read on and discover why you should consider a Curcumin supplement.
Why use a Curcumin supplement?
A Curcumin supplement can be helpful for treating pain associated with arthritis,it is a very good supplement for inflammation, it may also be helpful to treat cardiovascular symptoms and has been used to treat depression and anxiety.
Turmeric is a popular spice used in cooking especially in places like India, Curcumin is a compound found in Turmeric,people often ask what does Curcumin do?
Let’s find out.
There are thousands of published studies involving humans and animals whereby the effects of Curcumin on various health conditions has been looked at, a number of these studies have demonstrated promising results.
Having said that health experts have said that there is a need for more long-term clinical trials to establish how safe Curcumin is particularly for using over a long time.
Curcumin is a powerful antioxidant, to help you understand a little bit more I’m going to tell you about the role of Curcumin in relation to free radicals and oxidative stress in the body.
Free radicals damage cells in the body, when cells become damaged it leads to illness and ageing, free radicals are produced regularly in the body, the problem arises when there is overproduction of them.
Too many free radicals cause cell damage leading to many health conditions and diseases.
Our bodies need a balance between antioxidants and free radicals to remain healthy, however our bodies are put under oxidative stress by what we eat and the air around us, this causes an imbalance on the body and leading to damage to many important cells like proteins, enzymes and even the bodies DNA.
Free radical damage to these good cells may cause medical conditions and diseases like arthritis, cancer, cardiovascular, autoimmune and neurodegenerative diseases.
Curcumin studies have demonstrated its abilities to root out the different forms of free radicals for example reactive oxygen and species of nitrogen. Curcumin also boosts the body’s antioxidant mechanisms.
Curcumin is especially useful in treating inflammation, a range of diseases from cardiovascular, asthma, allergies and Alzheimer’s have been linked to inflammation.
One study showed how Curcumin could block a molecule known as NF-kB, this is a molecule that promotes inflammation in the genes.
A review by Alternative Medicine on early cell cultures clinical trials on animals indicated that Curcumin has a bright future as a therapeutic treatment for inflammatory diseases such as arthritis, bowel disease and pancreatitis.
A published study in 2012 in the Indian Journal of Biochemistry and BioPhysics referred to the fact that Curcumin can have a beneficial role to play against heart disease by protecting against the build-up of fatty deposits and cholesterol in the arteries.
The build-up of these substances causes damage to the endothelium causing plaque to break off and rupture, research has identified damage to the endothelium as being a major issue for heart disease and stroke.
Curcumin may also be a benefit for muscle soreness and inflammation caused by excessive exercise or from a sports related injury.
Indeed it may not be sports related perhaps you simply hurt your back, it can happen to the best of us!
In addition, a study in the respected journal Oncogene explained that Curcumin, Resveratrol, Tamoxifen and Celecoxib were more powerful acting as an anti-inflammatory compared to Ibuprofen or Aspirin.
Arthritis is a painful condition, symptoms are pain and joint ache, a study in 2010 demonstrated how a Curcumin supplement Meriva with phosphatidylcholine added (75% Curcumin) was clinically effective in treating the symptoms of osteoarthritis.
In fact the researchers made note that the symptoms of osteoarthritis reduced by as much as 58%, markers of inflammatory pain c-reactive decreased also.
During a study in 2012 BCM-95 a Curcumin product was shown to reduce swelling and pain in the study participants with rheumatoid arthritis to a greater extent than prescription NSAIDs.
The Alzheimer’s Association have stated that Curcumin has potential in treating neurodegenerative diseases Alzheimer’s being one of those.
Alzheimer’s affects an estimated 5.9 million people in the USA, this number is expected to escalate as the population increases.
It’s not known exactly what causes Alzheimer’s, but some research has shown that a build-up of beta amyloid plaque could be responsible along with oxidative damage and inflammation.
This was confirmed in a study on rats where they were given a low dose of Curcumin the beta amyloid plaque reduced by 40% compared to those that didn’t take Curcumin.
Memory function test
A longer-term study lasting 18 months involving patients ages between 50-90 with mild memory issues but not Alzheimer’s disease or Dementia was conducted, and the results were promising. Each patient was given 90 mg of Theracumin (a Curcumin supplement) two times per day, memories improved by as much as 28% on average.
A further animal study in 2017 demonstrated how Curcumin could be of value in treating neuropsychiatric disorders in a natural way including disorders such as post-traumatic stress, obsessive compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder. More studies are needed in this area before it is clinically safe and effective.
During 2017 an analysis of 6 clinical trials involving three hundred and seventy-seven participants compared using Curcumin and a placebo amongst patients with depression, it appeared that Curcumin was a well-tolerated safe efficient method producing less anxiety among the participants.
Gastrointestinal disorders would include conditions like IBD (inflammatory bowel disease) Crohn’s disease, Ulcerative colitis and Irritable Bowel Syndrome, all these diseases are caused by inflammation Curcumin has the potential to reduce symptoms associated with gastrointestinal disorders.
A study involving 207 participants with IBS who were randomly given two standard Curcumin supplements extract for 8 weeks shower the symptoms of the condition decreased by an average of 41-57 %.
Following the study an analysis of abdominal discomfort/pain revealed a reduction there of between 22-25%.
Curcumin and cancer
Curcumin may have a role to play in the treatment of cancer patients because of its ability to block many signalling pathways and inhibit cell proliferation meaning it may halt cancer spreading to other parts of the body.
Of interest to scientists is the role Curcumin must play in suppressing colon cancer, by finding a way to reduce clusters of aberrant crypts that line the colon and rectum may reduce the number of colorectal polyps forming.
During a thirty-day study of 44 volunteers 8 or more aberrant crypt foci it was found that by giving the participants four grams of Curcumin each day reduced these lesions by as much as 40%.
Furthermore, the Memory Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre reported that patients who were given Curcumin before surgery showed improvement in weight loss general health and muscle wastage.
It must be pointed out that recent experiments have suggested that Turmeric may interact in a negative way with the activity of certain chemotherapy medicines, so this leaves a question mark over Curcumin as an addition to cancer treatment.
Oral mucositis is an unfortunate and common side effect of cancer treatment particularly radiation and chemotherapy, side effects of high dosage treatment especially to the head or neck area can lead to open sores developing.
A 2019 study of 4 randomized and 1 nonrandomized trial patients were treated by giving them Curcumin or Turmeric applied as a mouthwash patient reported pain reduction and a reduction in erythema intensity (redness/irritation).
Curcumin is an excellent anti-inflammatory, but did you know that it can protect the skin by fighting against free radical damage and reducing inflammation, studies have been promising the evidence would suggest that Curcumin could be effective in treating skin cancer, psoriasis, vitiligo and scleroderma.
Curcumin has wound healing properties a recent publication demonstrated how it enhances number of stages of the wound healing process by enhancing tissue formation, deposition of collagen, remodelling of tissue and contraction of the wound.
I must point out that studies so far were performed on animals, we need more clinical human studies to prove Curcumins efficacy and safety.
Anti-ageing and Curcumin
Curcumin has potential in delaying the ageing process and fighting diseases that are related to the ageing process.
Curcumin has become more and more popular to protect against ageing, inflammation and oxidation are thought to have a prominent role in the ageing process, given that Curcumin is so good at fighting inflammation it stands to reason that it may be helpful in combating the symptoms of aging, the most common of which are arthritis, stiff joints, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and high blood pressure.
Curcumin supports healthy joints
To keep our joints healthy and in the best shape we need antioxidants to combat free radical damage in our bodies, free radicals are created by chemical reactions that produce unstable particles, these particles cause oxidative damage and stress at a cellular level.
Scientists have discovered that patients suffering from discomfort in their joints had increased levels of free radicals and reduced levels of antioxidants. People with joint discomfort could benefit from Curcumin because it is a rich antioxidant and will help with the symptoms.
Curcumin can help with Digestion
Studies have shown that Curcumin has a calming effect on the digestive system, it helps with bloating, stomach and bowel conditions and it helps to relieve gas. Curcumin works in a different way than enzymes or probiotics it reduces the amount of acid in the gut and has a soothing effect.
Curcumin side effects
There are no studies available that prove that low dosages of Curcumin taken for a period of up to three months cause any serious side effect.
In human clinical trials participants were given up to 10 grams per day of Curcumin with no pharmacological side effects, in one other human trial involving 25 people that were given 8 grams of Curcumin each day for 12 weeks showed no toxicity from the supplement.
It must be acknowledged that longer term studies on Curcumin side effects are needed.
Curcumin and stomach issues
There have been a few reports of stomach issues from people taking Curcumin, for example bloating, nausea, and diarrhoea, the supplement may also worsen stomach conditions like gastrointestinal reflux disease.
Curcumin/turmeric may cause skin irritation, if used by people with liver disease or people who consume a lot of alcohol it may cause the liver to become toxic.
Curcumin may have a negative effect on those with gallbladder problems like bile duct obstruction or gallstones so best to avoid taking it, people who take blood thinners like Warfarin should avoid Curcumin as it may slow down blood clotting.
Curcumin may increase urinary oxalate levels in the body, these increased levels in the urine may lead to further kidney stones forming.
Curcumin on its own has poor bioavailability meaning that it doesn’t absorb very well so you don’t get the full benefit of it’s potential.
One very good way to enhance Curcumin’s bioavailability and absorption is to add black piperine to it, always buy a Curcumin supplement with black piperine added because it will improve the absorption rate of Curcumin by as much as 2,000 per cent bringing you enhanced health benefits.
Curcumin is now available in different forms including tablets, capsules, energy drinks and ointments.
The recommended dosage varies, it depends on what condition is being treated, for example the Arthritis Foundation recommends 400-600 milligrams of Curcumin capsules 3 times each day for the treatment of arthritis.
On the other hand, someone with rheumatoid arthritis would need to take 500 milligrams per day, it is usually taken when eating your food. Studies on Curcumin have demonstrated that doses up to 2,000 milligrams per day are safe in the short term (3 months)
Frequently asked questions
What is the difference between Curcumin and Turmeric?
People get confused between Curcumin and Turmeric, so what is the essential difference? Curcumin comes from Turmeric in fact it is the main active component in Turmeric (about 3% by weight), supplement manufacturers extract Curcumin from Turmeric because it is much more potent than Turmeric.
Turmeric is a very popular spice that is made from the root of the Curcuma longa, that is a flowering plant belonging to the ginger family, we know that a lot of people use Turmeric to add flavour to food, studies have suggested that it has health benefits but not to the same degree as Curcumin.
Which is better Curcumin or Turmeric?
People may assume that by adding Turmeric to their diet they will get the same benefits similar to Curcumin but that isn’t the case as I mentioned earlier Curcumin is only 3% of Turmeric powder by weigh.
Most of the studies used Turmeric extracts contained a very high percentage of Curcumin administered in doses of more than 1,000 milligrams each day, as you can see it would be nearly impossible to get to these levels by simply adding Turmeric to your cooking.
Scientists believe that by adding Turmeric to your food daily for a long period of time may help to offset the damage done by free radicals in the body, remember free radicals cause oxidative stress and inflammation in the body, therapeutically speaking Turmeric powder on its own is of little value, taking a Curcumin supplement with piperine will give you so much more in terms of health benefits.
I’ve heard of Curcuminoids but what are they?
Turmeric the spice contains a range of phytochemicals, curcuminoids are one of those others are bisdemethoxycurcumin and desmethoxycurcumin, studies have shown that Curcumin is the most abundant and active with a vast range of therapeutic health benefits.
How many Curcumin supplements should I take? .
In fact, people often ask, could I take Curcumin supplements every day? Curcumin is a very active compound with the potential to improve many health conditions such as arthritis, inflammation, pain, swelling, anti-ageing, joint pain and so much more.
It is important to point out that all of the studies have focused on using Curcumin over the short term, we need more longer term studies to conclusively prove it’s efficacy and safety.
How should you take Curcumin?
Curcumin is best absorbed where there is fat or oil, it is fat soluble, so we recommend that you take your Curcumin supplement with a meal or just after.
Bioavailability is a word that means how quickly and by how much a nutrient/product is absorbed into the body, if it is a poorly bioavailable nutrient/product its absorption or digestion will be much harder and won’t get to where it will have the most beneficial health benefits.
Is Curcumin difficult to absorb?
Yes, it is so what is the best thing to do? scientists have discovered that by using Curcumin extract from Turmeric root can give a boost to absorption levels. However, the best way to make Curcumin more bioavailable and absorbable is to add black piperine this will increase its healing powers by a massive 2,000%.
What should you be looking for on a Curcumin supplement label?
Never buy a curcumin supplement unless the formula contains piperine, piperine is strong active component of black pepper, ask already stated black piperine has a strong effect on how Curcumin absorbs into the body, some studies have shown that by combining Curcumin and essential oils or soy lecithin can increase its bioavailability.
Is it safe to take Curcumin supplements? .
All of the main studies concluded that Curcumin is a generally safe supplement to take in the short term, the only issue is high doses may cause some side effects mainly stomach upset (bloating, nausea, and diarrhoea) the side effects of taking Curcumin over the long term are as yet unknown.
I’m breastfeeding, can I take Curcumin?
Small amounts of Curcumin found in food are safe, however the American Pregnancy Association have said that taking Curcumin in large doses may be associated with a pregnancy risk, so the best advice is to speak to your doctor about Curcumin dosage.
Is Curcumin safe to give to children?
No studies have been done on Curcumin and children so we don’t know if there will be any side effects, we don’t recommend that Curcumin be given to children.
I’m taking medications, is it safe to take curcumin?
If you are taking prescription blood thinning medications like Clopidogrel (Plavix) Warfarin (Coumadin) Aspirin or others the answer is do not mix Curcumin with this type of medication.
It may increase the effect of the blood thinning medications increasing the risk of bleeding, if you take drugs for stomach acid do not take Curcumin as well because it may increase the amount of acid in your stomach.
If you take drugs for Diabetes do not mix Curcumin with these because Curcumin may strengthen the effects of these drugs and increase your low blood sugar.
Where should I store Curcumin supplements?
The first rule is storing your Curcumin supplements away from your children secondly store them in a cool dry place not in the fridge.
Curcumin is a natural polyphonic compound extracted from Turmeric, many studies have demonstrated that it has some extraordinary health benefits, mainly because of its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Scientists have revealed it’s potential in treating the symptoms of debilitating diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, certain cancers, neurodegenerative disease Alzheimer’s and neuropsychiatric conditions.
The evidence is growing that Curcumin can act to protect against cardiovascular disease, the number one killer in the world gastrointestinal disease and liver disease.
The only downside is the fact that all the studies have been over the short term, Curcumin has shown to have good health benefits however we need more detailed long-term studies to ascertain whether here are side effects from long term use.