What does Curcumin do?
Turmeric is a spice used in cooking, it makes a curry turn a yellow colour, for thousands of years it has been used as a spice to add to foods and as a medicine herb in places like India.
But does science back up some of the medicinal claims? In some recent publications Turmeric has been found to have compounds known as Curcuminoids that have medicinal attributes. Curcumin is the most important Curcuminoids but what does Curcumin do?
What is Curcumin?
Curcumin is a very powerful anti-inflammatory despite the fact that it only makes up 3% of the total content of Turmeric, despite this fact it also a powerful antioxidant, the studies on Curcumin herb used turmeric extracts with mostly Curcumin in them the dosage didn’t exceed one gram per day. To reach this level you would need to consume a Curcumin supplement because turmeric spice added to your food just wouldn’t be strong enough to experience the full effects.
We know that Curcumin doesn’t absorb well in the bloodstream, by adding black pepper piperine to it makes it absorb up to 2000% better in the bloodstream, with this in mind the most effective Curcumin supplements contain piperine because they are more effective and give better results. Take it with a fatty meal because it is fat soluble.
What is Curcumin good for?
Curcumin is a versatile herb and has many medicinal properties for example, it has a calming effect on the digestive system helping to relieve stomach and bowel issues such as bloating and gas. It works as a natural soothing aid for gut issues it reduces too much acid.
Curcumin works as an anti-inflammatory and reduces the effectiveness of enzymes that cause inflammation, the beauty of Curcumin is its promotion of flexibility and comfort without any side effects. It is particularly helpful for athletes following physical exertion to help with recovery in the muscle and joint areas.
Curcumin for inflammation
People assume that inflammation is a bad thing, in fact the reverse is the case because our bodies need inflammation in a way that protects us against pathogens like bad bacteria that can cause damage and may even kill us. So inflammation is vitally important especially the acute or short term type however if it lasts for a long time it can be problematical if it mistakenly attacks the good tissues in our bodies.
Science tells us that most Western disease is caused by low level inflammation, the most common of these are cancer, heart disease, metabolic syndrome and various degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. A natural alternative like Curcumin is potentially valuable in prevention and treatment of many diseases.
We have established that Curcumin is a very strong anti-inflammatory so much so that it is just as effective as some of the top anti-inflammatory drugs on the market today. For example it can block NF-kB this molecule plays a major role in turning on genes that result in inflammation, Curcumin fights inflammation at a molecular level principally because of its bio activity.
Healthy joint support
We need antioxidants to keep our joints healthy because they fight against free radical damage in our system, free radical damage is caused during chemical reactions leading to unstable particles that cause oxidative stress in the bodies cells. Blood and joint fluid tests on patients complaining of discomfort in the joint area showed decreased antioxidants and increased levels of free radical damage, Curcumin is a great source of antioxidants.
Many people suffer with arthritic pain and swelling in the joints, two of the most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis both are caused by inflammation in the joints. Curcumin is a powerful anti-inflammatory so it makes a lot of sense that it could help with arthritis, indeed studies have shown this to be the case. In fact one particular study involving rheumatoid arthritis showed that Curcumin was very effective and was better than anti-inflammatory drugs.
To summarize arthritis is caused by joint inflammation studies have consistently showed that Curcumin may help with the symptoms of pain, swelling and joint stiffness associated with Arthritis and may be more effective than drugs.
Skin and Hair Benefits
The ageing process involves oxidative stress causing damage to the skin and hair, free radical damage plays a major role in this process, Curcumin can help to neutralize the free radical damage because it is a powerful antioxidant leading to better skin and hair.
Heart disease is a leading health issue across the world so it makes sense to keep your heart healthy by healthy eating and regular exercise, keeping your cholesterol under control is a part of keeping your heart healthy. Bad cholesterol is caused by disruption to low density lipoprotein by free radicals, this leads to inflammation in the arteries causing damage to the arterial wall, Curcumin has been shown in studies to have a positive effect on free radical damage.
Lower your risk of heart disease
The lining of the arterial wall is known as the endothelium, it is responsible for the smooth regulation of blood pressure, blood clotting, controlling the passage of white blood cells and other materials into the bloodstream.
Many studies have demonstrated that when the endothelium becomes dysfunctional it leads directly to substance build-up on the blood vessel walls, this consists of calcium, cholesterol and other debris, the problem is that this build-up can affect the flow of blood to the main organs of the body.
Studies have shown that Curcumin may help with the repair of the endothelium it may also be more effective than Atorvastatin a well known cholesterol drug, in another study involving 121 participants about to have surgery involving arterial bypass surgery Curcumin (4 grams daily) and a placebo were given before and following the operation.
Results showed that the people who were given Curcumin had a 65% less chance of a heart attack, in summary Curcumin is beneficial for heart disease because of its ability to repair damage done to the endothelium by free radicals.
Immune system benefits
A healthy immune system means a healthy body, the immune system comprises a network made up of various tissues, organs and cells all working in harmony to keep your body protected. Curcumin combining its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties can be beneficial in keeping the immune system healthy.
Damage to our bodies cells by free radicals is thought to be the main reason for many diseases and the ageing process, in fact free radicals react in a negative way with fatty acids, DNA and proteins, antioxidants play a very important role in protecting the body against free radical damage, this is where Curcumin can be really helpful in boosting the amount if antioxidant activity in the body and neutralizing the effects of free radicals.
The liver is one of the major organs in the body, it manages to perform over 500 tasks in the body, the most important of these is to stabilize and balance the maintenance in the body, having a healthy liver means having a healthy body, however oxidative stress can harm the liver and this is where Curcumin can be beneficial to your liver by boosting the levels of antioxidant activity.
Studies on Alzheimer’s patients have shown a link between cognitive health and inflammation, this can not be overlooked because neurons in the brain are open to inflammation leading to inflammatory compounds being released having a toxic effect on the human brain, Curcumin may be helpful in protecting the brain cells against inflammation.
Years ago it was thought that neurons stopped multiplying after the childhood years, now we know that this isn’t the case, neurons are able to regenerate and form new connections they can also grow new neurons in certain parts of the brain. This process is driven by bend or brain derived neuro trophic factor a growth hormone inside your brain.
Curcumin can be effective in delaying many brain related diseases by increasing the levels of bdnf in the brain, this could affect how we think so it seems logical to take Curcumin for brain health. It must be said that many more studies are needed in this area.
Cancer treatment benefits
Cancer seems to be on the rise, according to the national cancer statistics in the USA for 2018 as many as 1,735,350 new cases of cancer were diagnosed, one of the main characteristics of cancer is the uncontrolled nature of bad cell growth, this seems to be the case in all forms of cancer some studies have shown that cancer was affected positively by Curcumin.
Curcumin as a herb was studied as an addition to cancer treatment the results showed Curcumin had a positive effect on cancer growth and the spread of it developing at a molecular level.
Several other laboratory studies show that Curcumin can inhibit the growth of cancerous cells reduce the growth of cancerous tumours in animals that were tested.
Obviously we need a lot more detailed studies to be done but on high doses of Curcumin with piperine, however evidence would point to prevention of colorectal cancer, this month long study of 44 patients Male with colon lesions were administered 4 grams of Curcumin per day, results showed a reduction in the lesions by 40%.
Alzheimer’s disease has become one of the major diseases in recent times, the estimates in the United States show that almost 500,000 new cases of the disease each year, imagine that every 3 seconds a person somewhere in the world will be given a Dementia diagnosis.
Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease and it is classified as the leading cause of dementia. Despite the fact that millions have been spent trying to find a cure for this horrible disease there is no treatment available, logically it makes sense to do what we can to prevent it happening in the first place.
Curcumin has been shown in a study to have an effect on the flow of blood going to the brain, it is known that brain inflammation and oxidative damage plays a pivotal role in Alzheimer’s disease, Curcumin has potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties so it may be beneficial in preventing damage to the brain cells.
From studies we know that amyloid plaque build-up in the blood vessels going to the brain may be linked to Alzheimer’s we also know that Curcumin can help with reducing this plaque build-up.
in summary, Curcumin has the potential to cross the blood brain interface it may lead to improving the pathological make up of Alzheimer’s disease.
How much Curcumin should you take?
Turmeric contains Curcumin about 3% so Curcumin is the active ingredient that has the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effect, so when you are buying the product in capsule form it is important to check the label first to see how much Curcumin is in it. Curcuminoids comprise such a small part of Turmeric so the recommended daily dose of Curcumin is 500-1,000 milligrams daily.
If you are adding the turmeric spice to your foods a teaspoonful full of the ground spice contains 200 milligrams of Curcumin so you would need to put 2 teaspoons of the spice to get the very minimum of 500 milligrams per day to keep I inflammation away.
The simplest way to get the recommended daily dose of Curcumin of 500-1,000 milligrams is to take a quality supplement, another important point is Curcumin is really good for your gut health. For chronic inflammation pain and inflammation you would need up to 2,000 milligrams per day of Curcumin.
Is it safe to take large doses of Curcumin for chronic pain and inflammation?
There are no official guidelines on Curcumin/Turmeric dosages, however this guideline may be of assistance to you in determining what dose you should take
For arthritis 500 milligrams twice a day for 3 months
For heart disease 500 milligrams three times a day for 6 months
For cholesterol 500 milligrams three times a day for 3 months
For Alzheimer’s disease 500 milligrams three times a day for 12 months
Are there side effects?
Studies have been done on the side effects of Curcumin using 8 grams daily, no toxic effects were reported, however we have heard of side effects mentioned and the most common of these are:
• Stomach pain
• Allergic reaction
To best summarise what does Curcumin do , Turmerics most active compound which is Curcumin has been proven in many scientific studies to have a positive effect on inflammatory diseases that affect the heart, body and mind. A natural product that has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties has to be worth trying as an addition to prescription painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs, it is safe to take with these drugs but consult with your doctor first or a qualified naturopath specialist.
Stick to the recommended dosages, always check the label buy Curcumin with piperine so that it absorbs into the body better, by as much as 2,000%.