Curcumin (from Turmeric) has been a rave here in the West for few years now, and for good reason. Of the many “king herbs” or panacea type herbs or compounds such as Cordyceps, Reishi, Ginseng and others, Curcumin is easily worthy of being recognized among the top tier of natural healing plants/roots on earth. It’s a potent anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory and has been used to address countless maladies. And while modern science is proving these effects for a host of conditions, as I will link in this article, Turmeric’s usage dates back at least 4000 years and is a staple in India along with Asia for both food and medicine. One could say that turmeric’s medicinal effects have stood the test of time.
Inflammation, The Precursor to Disease
Excessive inflammation is a common risk factor for disease occurrence and progression. Inflammation has been shown to lead to joint tissue destruction, cancer, cardiovascular events, insulin resistance/diabetes and brain/liver/kidney degenerative diseases. Research has been shown for curcumin to reduce both chronic and acute inflammation from physical injury, joint wear and tear (osteoarthritis), chronic infections and inadequate antioxidant protection. Curcumin was shown to be more effective than certain NSAIDs in reducing inflammation and pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis or post-op trauma. It has a better cardiovascular safety profile than aspirin because, unlike aspirin, it does not inhibit the arterial protective factor prostacyclin. By suppressing this inflammatory marker, curcumin has a domino effect that reduces the entire cascade of inflammatory compounds that would be produced thereafter.
Curcumin has also been shown to decrease histamine release, suggesting that it plays a significant role in exerting both anti-oxidative and anti-allergic activities. It’s been shown to increase NK cell activity (immune boosting). In regards to cancer, it has been shown to “interfere with multiple cell signaling pathways, including cell cycle, apoptosis, proliferation, survival, invasion, angiogenesis, metastasis and inflammation. The activity of curcumin reported against leukemia and lymphoma, gastrointestinal cancers, genitourinary cancers, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, head and neck squamous cell carcinoma, lung cancer, melanoma, neurological cancers, and sarcoma reflects its ability to affect multiple targets.”
It’s also been used to benefit some with stomach ulcers, ulcerative colitis and Crohns. It can reduce cholesterol oxidation and levels, while increasing HDL plus it has been shown to reduce fibrinogen.
It has been shown to increase brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), in short, safely increasing the growth of new neurons in the brain and thus counteracting processes such as depression, Alzheimer’s and other neuro-degenerative conditions. In one small study of 32 postmenopausal women, curcumin was shown to “increase flow-mediated dilation … suggesting that both [8 weeks of aerobic exercise and curcumin] can potentially improve the age-related decline in endothelial function.” In other words, moderate exercise combined with curcumin, can potentially bolster endothelial function and thus help fortify the cardiovascular system.
In India, turmeric has been used for many conditions including laryngitis, bronchitis and diabetes. It’s been shown to help the liver as well as having a bitter quality and therefore is a digestive and carminative (anti-flatulence). It’s also been used externally as an anti-bacterial on open wounds. Mixed with something like genuine Manuka honey, it’d surely be a powerhouse anti-bacterial for open wounds.
I could probably write a part 2 and 3 here as the studies that have been done on curcumin goes on and on affecting such conditions as depression, HIV, and even it’s ability to enhance chemotherapy effectiveness with certain cancers (please check with your doctor if you are taking chemotherapy or other drugs to ensure that Curcumin will not interfere with the absorption, efficacy of those drugs).
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that curcumin should probably be in most people’s supplement regimen. There are a lot of supplements one could buy to stay healthy, I’d surely consider putting Curcumin toward the top of that list as one of the king herbs/plants we have at our disposal.
So what is Curcumin, where does it come from and how can we get more of it into our diet? And what is turmeric, a term often interchanged with curcumin in marketing?
Turmeric (curcuma longa) belongs to the ginger family Zingiberaceae, is a flowering plant native to India and Southeast Asia. It’s roots are harvested after the foliage dies back, usually around winter time. Turmeric roots contain many curcuminoids one of which is curcumin. While eating the whole root, as you would a curry with turmeric, curcumin makes up roughly 3% (of rhizome weight) of the profile and thus getting the medicinal effect is easier with a higher concentration of curcumin. For this reason, you may have noticed that when you purchase a curcumin supplement you will often see it “standardized” to contain 95% curcumin. (NB: Do not buy plain turmeric as a supplement, if the bottle says Turmeric and is being sold as a supplement ensure the ingredients indicate that it’s standardized to 95% curcumin. Some private label sellers mistakenly call their supplements Turmeric instead of Curcumin, or they try to sell Turmeric that isn’t standardized to 95% curcumin. Bottom line, use turmeric for cooking, curcumin as a supplement).
Not All Curcumin Supplements Are Equal
The single greatest hurdle to realizing the benefits of curcumin, outside of getting it in an adequate concentration, is it’s poor bioavailability. Curcumin is a a crystalline structure which is difficult to absorb in the GI tract. Manufacturers have attempted to address these issues in differing ways.
Out of the race to create a better absorbed supplement, have come certain adjuncts added to increase bioavailability, some more effective than others, two notable ones being Meriva and BCM-95. I won’t downplay the efficacy of those patented forms, I’ve tried them and their benefits are greater than other forms.
That is, until I found out about this newer patent-pending formula which is being introduced here.
In a small sample testing of patients who used Meriva, BCM-95 and Curcumin Bio-Supreme, our form showed up with a greater concentration in blood work as graphed below. Though the sampling was small the results aren’t “a little better”, they’re substantial.
We have called this powerful formula, “Curcumin Bio-Supreme” and it is the same product that was used in the above graph. It’s worthy to note that because of the bioavailability of this product, one typically need simply follow the label’s direction on usage (or as directed by your doc).
Sometimes I exceed the recommendations, but because of how this product’s curcuminoids are emulsified into oil, I haven’t felt the need. Just ensure you take it with a meal as oil is typically something WE ALL have a little trouble digesting, especially as we age. For me personally, I’ll take this with Modern Digest at a meal time. Modern Digest has lipase and ox bile for better oil digestion and absorption.
Interactions and Notes on Usage
HOW TO TAKE (applicable to Curcumin Bio-Supreme)
- Take 1 softgel per day with a meal, or as directed by your healthcare practitioner.
- There is no upper level of toxicity established for turmeric or curcumin. A range of 200-1200mg/day was used for various applications with significant benefits. The effective dose may depend on the severity of inflammation. Please consult with your doctor should you have any question or with to go outside of the recommended dosage.
- Not recommended during pregnancy.
- According to Dr. Weil, “Don’t use turmeric if you have gallstones or bile duct dysfunction. In rare cases, extended use can cause stomach upset or heartburn. Note that piperine [not used in Curcumin Bio-Supreme) can slow the elimination of some prescription drugs including phenytoin (Dilantin), propranolol (Inderal), and theophylline. Some evidence also suggests that curcumin can interfere with certain chemotherapy drugs used to treat breast cancer, so if you’re being treated for this disease, be sure to discuss the advisability of taking curcumin with your physician.”