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Is Curcumin Curing Inflammation?

The Proven Properties of Curcumin That Reduce Inflammation

You've probably heard of curcumin in either its extract form or as part of the turmeric plant since it is growing in popularity. So why is curcumin becoming such a topic of conversation?

Sure, it can be made into a mean curry that delights the taste buds. But did you know that curcumin has a lot of highly-studied health benefits that have made it popular in certain parts of the world (like India and Thailand) for centuries?

Well, it does. One of the most well-studied benefits of curcumin - and the plant form turmeric - is that it is able to combat inflammation. While curcumin probably cannot cure whatever chronic health condition is causing the inflammation, it sure seems able to reduce the amount of inflammation a person might experience.

What, in particular, is there in curcumin that targets inflammation, and how does it work? Is there a certain property or set of properties that specifically target inflammation in the body? Read on to learn more about the proven properties of curcumin that help to reduce inflammatory responses.

How Curcumin is Used for Combatting Inflammation

Curcumin is an extract of the turmeric plant, a flowering plant scientifically referred to as Curcuma longa. This plant, which is related to ginger, is commonly found in India, Asia, and certain parts of Central America. Different cultures in these parts of the world have been using turmeric for centuries in order to treat a number of ailments, including inflammation.

Ayurvedic medicine (a holistic healing approach developed about 3,000 years ago in India) has long emphasized the use of turmeric and curcumin to treat conditions such as:

  • Cancer
  • Liver diseases
  • Gallbladder problems
  • Arthritis
  • Breathing problems
  • Skin issues
  • Chronic pain

Ayurvedic medicine is still pretty popular and, in fact, seems to be gaining a lot of ground in the Western world. That means the use of curcumin and turmeric are spreading.

But how exactly do people use curcumin and turmeric? Well, for starters, it can easily be added to an array of delicious foods and drinks as a taste enhancer. Ever try curry? Chances are that it was made with curcumin or turmeric in it.

Many Indian, Southeast Asian, and Central American dishes rely on curcurmin-infused curry to make them taste even better. It gets used in all types of dishes, including those that are meat or vegetable based. Not only does curcumin give these dishes an enhanced flavor, it creates a specific color that is supposed to be pleasing to the human eye.

Curcuminoids are the main active ingredient in curcumin, and these little yellow diarylheptanoids are what give curry its colorful appearance. Curcumin's rhizomes (the stems that sprawl out and grow underground) can be dried out and crafted into a variety of dietary products, like capsules, teas, extracts, tablets, or even skin pastes.

In all of its many formats, curcumin is said to be effective at treating inflammatory responses throughout the human body. While consuming it in your food is a great way to reap the benefits of curcumin's flavor enhancement, a lot of people choose to take it as a dietary supplement in capsule, extract, or tea format.

Finding the right format for you could be tricky since there is not a universal recommended dosage. Your best bet is to consult your doctor, nutritionist, or holistic care practitioner and ask for their opinion before you start taking curcumin as a way to reduce your inflammation. Note that there can be side effects to taking curcumin, which we will discuss after we get into the studies that have been done on curcumin and inflammation.

Curcumin Benefits and Studies for Inflammation

The benefits of curcumin are still being studied by scientists the world over. But, judging by what evidence we already have to go on, there is enough to suggest that curcumin works at reducing inflammation throughout the human body.

As B. Meng, J. Li, and H. Cao assert in their study, curcumin has powerful antioxidant properties. What are antioxidants, exactly? These are properties found in both natural and human-made substances that are able to stop cell damage. Inflammation is one of those things that causes cell damage and death since, when harmful free radicals enter the body, they can cause inflammation.

Meng, Li, and Cao note that curcumin might actually be able to prevent the manifestation of Types 1 and 2 diabetes. Diabetes is characterized by rampant inflammation, as are many autoimmune disorders. Therefore, if curcumin can work to reduce inflammation in those with diabetes, it is entirely possible that it could benefit people with diverse sources of inflammation.

In a rather extensive review conducted by Susan J. Hewlings and Douglas S. Kalman, curcumin's main mechanisms of action are listed as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. Hewlings and Kalman note that studies have shown curcumin to influence the markers for oxidative stress, which is caused by free radicals and leads to cell damage and death.

Curcumin appears to boost the serum activity of superoxide dimutase (SOD) and other antioxidants. Also, akin to vitamin E, curcumin is a chain-breaking antioxidant since, as a lipophilic compound, it is able to seek and destroy peroxyl radicals with ease. It hunts down other types of free radicals as well and even inhibits certain enzymes that create these pesky free radicals.

With regard to inflammation, curcumin has been scientifically shown to stop inflammatory stimuli that prompt the activity of nuclear factor (NF)-kB. Of course, that is just one of the many ways that curcumin is known to stop inflammation, as it works on a number of different pathways in the body.

For years, scientists have been trying to figure out just how curcumin works and why it seems to be so effective at decreasing inflammatory responses. The first known record of curcumin being used to help treat illness dates from 1748. It wasn't until 1937 when the first article about its usage was published.

Back in the 1930's, a scientist named Oppenheimer started researching curcumin in relation to biliary diseases. He treated 67 patients with differing levels of cholecytisis with "curcunat" for three weeks and, over the course of three years or more, found that all but one of these patients were cured of their cholecytisis. What is even more surprising with regard to this study is that Oppenheimer did not note any negative side effects in his patients.

Curcumin Side Effects and Precautions for Inflammation

Speaking of side effects, it is important to know about the potential for experiencing them before you start taking any type of supplement. Your doctor or nutritionist should be equipped with the knowledge to help you out when it comes to learning more about curcumin and inflammation. They should certainly warn you about any possible side effects curcumin might cause.

For the most part, though, studies have found curcumin to be a relatively safe substance for most people to consume. A lot of the clinical trials conducted on human participants note that curcumin is nontoxic and is, for many people, tolerable to consume. About 8 grams per day of curcumin seemed to do the trick for patients with pancreatic cancer who were observed and treated in one recent study.

In addition to treating inflammation, curcumin has been shown to be both sfe and effective in treating alcohol intoxication, hepatic conditions, and chronic exposure to arsenic. Curcumin tends to get used alone or in conjunction with other substances (such as prednisone and quercetin) for these trials. In fact, there are so many clinical trials that have shown positive results using curcumin that it is hard to list them all.

So, why does curcumin work so well while still being safe for most people to consume? Scientists have been grappling with this loaded question for a while, but they are starting to come up with some clearer solutions. The answer, it seems, lies with ho curcumin interacts with molecules with multiple cell signaling capabilities.

Take, for example, pro-inflammatory cytokines. These bad boys have been linked to a number of inflammatory-based conditions, including various autoimmune diseases (like Hashimoto's thyroiditis and lupus). Interleukin-6 is just one of the many pro-inflammatory cytokines in the body, and it has been linked with causing inflammation in those with pancreatic cancer and type 2 diabetes. Curcumin, it seems, stops the actions of IL-6 in these conditions, thereby reducing the levels of inflammation these patients experience.

Curcumin seems really powerful, right? Well, there are some limits to just how therapeutically effective curcumin can be. For one, curcumin does not get easily absorbed into the blood stream, so its bioavailability is considerably limited. Second, a rapid metabolism could expel curcumin too quickly, rendering a dosage a lot less helpful. And, third, quick systemic elimination also cuts down on curcumin's efficacy.

Scientists have taken up the task of trying to make curcumin more bioavailable. The most well-used method for doing this involves blocking curcumin's metabolic pathway with adjuvants like piperine. While this method has not yet been perfected, scientists are well on their way to figuring out a way to make curcumin even more effective for people.

Of course, like just about anything you put into your body, curcumin can possibly cause some unwanted (and rather unpleasant) side effects. To further discuss the problems that could arise, we have to separate turmeric from curcumin and go over each of their side effects separately.

Turmeric Side Effects and Cautions

Let's talk about turmeric first. Turmeric has about 2% oxalate, which is an antinutrient that forms compounds which healthy individuals typically eliminate when they go to the bathroom. However, some with chronic health conditions cannot expel them as easily. This puts them at risk of developing kidney stones.

Also, while pure turmeric is generally safe, the powders that you see sold on many store shelves or online are not always pure. This is problematic. Some manufacturers will put unsafe (potentially even toxic) additive ingredients into their turmeric powders without adding these ingredients to the label. It is certainly something to watch out for while you are shopping around for turmeric products.

If you are someone with a gluten intolerance or with Celiac disease, beware! Some manufacturers add products like barley, cassava starch, wheat, or rye flour to their products. Also, since flour tends to dull down the color of turmeric, manufacturers will use food dyes to enhance their products' appearances. If you are allergic or sensitive to food dyes, this could cause you some serious symptom flare-ups.

Acid yellow 36 (also known as metanil yellow) is used most often in India. It has been scientifically shown to cause neurological disorders and cancer in animal subjects. It has not yet been tested on humans, and it is illegal to use acid yellow 36 in Europe and the United States.

Lead has also been found in some turmeric powders. This is especially dangerous since lead can cause serious damage to the human nervous system.

Otherwise, know that pure turmeric is generally safe for most people to take. Stick with the dosage recommended to you by your doctor or nutritionist, and you should not experience any serious side effects.

Curcumin Side Effects and Cautions

Now, as far as curcumin goes, these supplements are typically administered in dosage levels low enough to be considered safe for the majority of consumers. There is one study that found adults who took 490 mg of curcumin daily for one week experienced no side effects at all. There have even been other studies that asserted 1,200-2,100 mg of curcumin a day for 2-6 weeks did not cause any side effects to manifest.

Still, higher dosages of curcumin are not for everyone. There are some people who should take precautions when using curcumin to treat their inflammation. The most common side effects of curcumin are:

  • Skin rashes (when taking in excess of 8,000 mg of curcumin; this is probably the most rare side effect)
  • Digestive problems (when taking dosages over 1,000 mg, diarrhea, acid reflux, bloating, and gas may result)
  • Headaches and nausea (dosages of over 450 mg might cause these symptoms in a relatively small number of people)

Extremely high dosages taken for long periods of time are not recommended. Research shows that taking 1,170 mg per pound of body week for 13 weeks to two years could result in inflammation, an increase in the liver's size, and stomach ulcers. These results were noticed in lab rats and could apply to humans as well.

Taking lower doses of curcumin seems to really be key to reaping its benefits and avoiding its side effects. Again, it is crucial that you speak with a medical/health care professional before you start taking curcumin supplements.

Curcumin Research & Facts for Inflammation

To date, most of the research done on curcumin was conducted on individuals with certain chronic health conditions (many involving inflammatory responses). Why haven't as many healthy people been studied? Well, the reason is that the benefits are not as immediately obvious and would require studies to be done long-term. In those with chronic inflammation, the benefits of curcumin tend to become evident pretty quickly.

There have been some studies that show curcumin's impact on healthy adults. For example, one study demonstrated that a three-month supplementation regiment of curcumin and Boswellia serrata gum resin positively impacted markers for glycation, oxidative stress, and inflammation in 47 healthy male athletes.

Another study conducted on healthy adults (this time, these were not athletes) revealed that 400 mg curcumin dosages a day before and after undergoing an exercise routine to induce muscle soreness could decrease regular biological inflammation.

Yet another study on obese adults found that 1 gram per day of curcuminoids for 30 days then for a two-week washout period found that curcuminoids might've correlated with decreases in anxiety and depression. These otherwise-healthy individuals showed overall improved scores on both the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) and Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI).

In other words, while there are only a limited number of curcumin studies that have been done on healthy participants, those that were completed show its potential to decrease inflammation in those with no significant health problems. In particular, athletes might benefit from using curcumin as a way to reduce workout-related inflammatory responses.

Now, let us address a few more interesting facts related to curcumin and its healing potentiality. Inflammation can be a system-wide issue for many of us with chronic health conditions. That's why it is so crucial to note curcumin's effects on the brain, which, when inflamed, can cause a whole slew of life-interrupting issues.

Curcumin also seems to have an impact on the division and multiplication of neurons in the brain. A brain-derived neurofactor (BDNF) that works as a growth hormone propels this process along, but, when this hormone is too low in level, people can develop brain-related disorders ranging from Alzheimer's to depression. Curcumin has been shown to boost levels of BDNF, thereby possibly preventing or improving symptoms of these very complex brain disorders.

Not only can curcumin apparently combat Alzheimer's and depression, but it seems that curcumin might actually make you smarter! It could possibly improve your spatial memory, as a study by Muaz Belviran, Nilsel Okudan, Kismet Esra Nurullahoğlu Atalık, and Mehmet Öz demonstrates. This is likely due to the fact that curcumin lessens lipid perodixation in brain tissue, which could lead to better cognitive functioning.

Inflammation is also linked with a lot of other chronic conditions, such as heart disease, the worldwide leading cause of death. Curcumin seems capable of bettering the function of your body's endothelium, which is your blood vessels' lining.

When your endothelium is damaged, your blood clotting and blood pressure factors become impaired. In some studies, researchers found that curcumin is able to repair damaged endothelial matter, thereby improving its multiple functions. And this, of course, is theoretically able to prevent heart disease.

Finally, it is important to discuss the link between cancer-related inflammation and curcumin. Cancer and inflammation seem almost synonymous, so the fact that curcumin has slowed and possibly even prevented the growth of cancerous cells in lab rats is promising for the future of cancer treatment.

In Conclusion

Curcumin is a substance that has been used for hundreds of years to make food taste all the more delicious. It is also known for being a powerful Ayurvedic medicine. Today, people all over the world still enjoy the great taste that curcumin can add to a curry dish, but they are also reaping its many health benefits more and more.

Inflammation is something that each and every one of us experiences within our bodies. It is our bodies' way of responding to damage. But, sometimes, our bodies do not respond properly, and inflammation can become a serious issue.

Many doctors will try prescribing different anti-inflammatory medications, but they are not always that effective. That is why curcumin seems to hold so much promise for so many different people, from those with chronic health conditions to athletes looking to negate the woes of muscular inflammation post-workout.

A significant amount of evidence has been amassed over the years, showing that curcumin works on a number of different pathways in the body in order to reduce inflammation. Still, there have not been enough clinical trials done on human subjects to safely say that curcumin is truly effective at wiping out inflammation.

However, it is clear that curcumin has a role to play when it comes to relieving inflammation throughout the body. Studies sure do show this, but personal anecdotes from those who use curcumin even more strongly emphasize this point.

While curcumin might cause some side effects in certain individuals, it is a relatively safe substance to consume when taken in moderation. Remember, follow your doctor's advice regarding curcumin usage, but don't be afraid to bring it up at your next appointment. Curcumin could be just what you need to help you combat the aches and pains that inflammation can cause.

Does Curcumin Have Cancer Fighting Effects?

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Can Curcumin Combat the Spread of Cancer Cells?

Curcumin is getting a lot of hype in the health and wellness world right now. It is known for its anti-inflammatory properties and is even said to help stop the spread of cancer cells. But just how accurate is this?

Let's first take a look at what curcumin is and how it works. Curcumin is actually found in the root of the plant Curcuma longa, otherwise known as turmeric. In fact, the root of a turmeric plant has about 2-5% curcumin in it.

This vividly yellow substance is a member of the ginger family known as Zingiberaceae. While turmeric has been used as a healing spice for hundreds of years in India, it is only recently that curcumin extraction and use has become vastly popular. In 2014 alone, United States (where the market is most booming) curcumin sales topped $20 Million.

The reason curcumin sales are so high is not just because it goes well in many dishes; it has some long-established health benefits. What, exactly, are some of its most well-known healing properties? The ones that we will discuss in this article are:

  • Anti-oxidants

  • Anti-inflammation
  • The ability to fight off cancer cells

Curcumin has a lot of anti-oxidants, meaning it is able to fend off unwanted bodily inflammation. This serves as a good pain reliever, too. The truth is, most chronic illnesses (including cancer) involve ravaging inflammation, and fighting it off can be extremely difficult.

Scientifically speaking, curcumin works by suppressing the activation of a protein complex called NF-kB. NF-kB regulates the creation of pro-inflammation cytokines. It has also been found that curcumin inhibits the pro-inflammatory enzymes 5-LOX and COX-2, as well as a pro-inflammatory cytokine named TNF (tumor necrosis factor). It even limits the expression of inflammation-linked molecules involved in surface adhesion.

The thing about chronic disease is that it greatly exacerbates bodily inflammation. Inflammation is actually a normal response and can help us when we are ill or injured. But, when it gets triggered to excess by a chronic disease, it can cause all kinds of damage.

A lot of the synthetic drugs that you can take for inflammatory conditions only work on one pathway; curcumin works on many different inflammation pathways. Curcumin itself is a strong antioxidant, and it can stop free radicals throughout the body from causing chaos. And, the good thing is, it is easy to prepare as part of a yummy meal.

Cooking With Curcumin

How do you cook with Curcumin?

One dilemma you might have while considering adding curcumin to your daily regimen is whether you should just add it to your food or take it as a supplement.

Honestly, curcumin is a great addition to your diet, even if you aren't trying to stave off cancer. Not only does it fight off inflammation, but it tastes fantastic when prepared with the right recipes.

So, what are the most popular ways that people add curcumin into their food? It is a staple of many Thai, Indian, Indonesian, and Western dishes. In particular, you will find curcumin (which is typically listed as the ingredient turmeric) in curry dishes.

What exactly is curry? Most people who have eaten it before would tell you that it is kind of like a sauce or gravy. In fact, the word "curry" derives from the Tamil word for "sauce", "kari". There are actually thousands of different types of curry, and each style of curry has its own unique flavor.

Now, curry powder is actually a dry mix of various spices, which can include curcumin. This is a concept concocted by British soldiers returning home from India during British rule there. Essentially, what the British were trying to do was replicate Indian curry in a British fashion by throwing together a bunch of popular Indian ingredients.

Of course, that was not really curry's intended use. Instead, curry is used when you want to pay fry spices using oil. Raw curry spices (like curcumin) can have a pretty shocking taste, but heating them with oil lets those flavors combine and emerge.

Let us take a look at a few of the many types of curry.

First off, you have Southeast Asian curry, which is typically fused with coconut milk for an added hint of sweetness. Thailand in particular has found popularity with their massaman, green, and red curries.

You will find curry in Japan, as it was introduced via the British. The Japanese mix in vegetables and meat, to which the curry adds a good bit of spice. Middle Eastern countries also use curry with their meats, but they tend to prefer using small amounts of dry curries for flavoring.

To be certain, India has some of the most renowned curry dishes in the world. In India, you can find curry in chicken tikka masala, which is gaining a lot of ground in Western parts of the world.

The good news is that you don't have to go to India - or even to an Indian restaurant - to enjoy curcumin-infused curry. You can make it from the comfort of your own home. Starting off with chicken or butter chicken curry is the recommended route to take for newcomers. Chutney and freshly basked naan are often thrown in as sides to enjoy with a curry dish.

You don't have to eat curry to get your curcumin. Turmeric can be mixed with ginger to make a delicious tea that helps fight off inflammation.

If you like tofu or eggs, adding some curcumin into your scramble can create a flavorful meal. It also works really well with veggies like potatoes, cauliflower, and any root vegetable. You can even make a regular ol' rice dish or a fancier pilaf and add some curcumin to it.

Do you like smoothies? If so, you might be pleasantly surprised to find out that curcumin works really well when blended into a smoothie. For those of you who are dairy-free (as many of us are sine dairy can trigger inflammation), there are quite a few curcumin-based, dairy-free smoothie recipes available.

Since turmeric (and, therefore, curcumin) is fat-soluble, you can use it in a smoothie to help improve nutrient absorption in your body. Just blend in some chopped bananas, unsweetened coconut milk, vanilla extract, cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, and a hint of salt and pepper, and you've got yourself one delicious - and healthy - smoothie.

Overall, curcumin has a long history of use and a lot of diversity. Scientists are not completely sure of its potential health benefits, but it certainly makes for an excellent addition to many types of meals.

Supplementing Curcumin

As mentioned above, turmeric contains about 2-5% curcumin. If you notice the desired benefits just from adding turmeric to your diet, wonderful! But if not, you will strongly want to consider taking supplements, which can deliver much more curcumin to your body.

Curcumin Benefits and Cancer Studies

New Enland Journal of Medicine

The nifty thing about the human body is that it will try its very best to fight off cancer. It does so through cancer-suppressing genes. When we are younger, it is easier for our bodies to fight off infections, but as we grow older, these genes become muted. Scientists are starting to find that curcumin might actually reverse this process.

To understand how curcumin benefits those who want to fend off cancer, you should have a basic understanding of how cancer happens. Our bodies are made up of trillions of cells, and somewhere between100-130 billion of them die every day. Cell death by apoptosis (suicide) or necrosis (injury) is normal and necessary for any organism to thrive.

Unfortunately, the body doesn't always function as it should. One of the triggers for tumor cell expansion is that they evade apoptosis. They also are insensitive to growth inhibitory signals, are self-sufficient with growth signals, are able to sustain angiogenesis (the formation of new blood vessels), invade tissues, have endless replication capabilities, and metatasize (meaning they spread to other areas of the body).

Cancer rates differ across the globe. Researchers theorize that the vast difference in rates is due to the consumption of curcumin. Is it mere coincidence that southeast Asia has the lowest cancer rates and highest consumption of curcumin?

Curcumin has been a staple of Ayurvedic, Siddha, and Unani medicine for ages. It is only recently that researchers started studying its healing effects, particularly in relation to cancer. One such study found that topical administration of curcumin on mice reduced the presence of tumors by 18-25%. Other studies (by Huang et. al and Conney et. al) performed on mice found that curcumin prevented the promotion of tumor cells.

As Ravindran, Prasad, and Aggarwal found, curcumin can bind to up to 33 different proteins, including 5-LOX, NF-kB, and COX2. In fact, it seems that curcumin is able to induce cell death in about 40 biomolecules.

The neat thing about curcumin is that it does not seem to kill of normal cells. It guns directly for tumor cells. This is why scientists are so keen on researching curcumin as a potential cancer treatment. Several clinical trials and many animal-based tests have been done on curcumin as an annihilator of tumor cells, and the results are pretty positive. Still, a lot more testing needs to be done to really analyze the benefits of curcumin.

Curcumin Side Effects and Precautions For Cancer Patients

So, does curcumin have any side effects? Are there any precautions that cancer patients should take while using curcumin? The answer to both of these questions is "yes", but it is not a universal answer.

We need to separate the side effects of turmeric and curcumin here. It is important to note that pure turmeric seems to be safe for most people, but turmeric powders have been found to contain a lot of inexpensive fillers and even lead. Hence, using turmeric in its pure form is recommended over a powdered mixture.

The side effects of turmeric are fairly upfront and mostly based on whether you are using a powdered mixture. As turmeric has approximately 2% oxalate, those with predispositions to kidney stones should not use it in high quantities. 

Turmeric powders can be especially dangerous for people with Celiac disease or gluten intolerance since they are loaded with fillers such as rye, barley, and wheat flour. They also tend to include food colorants that are meant to improve the turmeric's color, as flour can dilute it. Acid yellow 36 is found in a lot of Indian turmeric mixes and, in animal-based studies, was found to cause neurological damage and even cancer. Just know that acid yellow 36 is illegal to use in Europe and the United States.

As for curcumin itself, it is considered to be relatively safe for most people to consume. However, there are individuals who cannot consume large quantities of it, as it can cause mild to moderate side effects.

These side effects, as found in one study can include:

  • Skin rashes (Although this is rare, participants in one study reported skin rashes after taking 8,000 mg or higher doses of curcumin.)

  • Nausea and headaches (in doses of 450 mg or higher)
  • Gastrointestinal issues (such as bloating and diarrhea, when taken in excess of 1,000 mg per day)

Those already taking prescription medications or other dietary supplements should take note that curcumin might interact with them. There do not seem to many validated drug interactions, but this is still a possibility given our limited knowledge of how curcumin - especially in higher dosages - will act.

There is also reason for pregnant or breastfeeding women to take caution, as its impact on unborn children is not yet known. It is always better to play it safe. If you are unsure about whether you should take curcumin based on any medical condition you have or dietary supplement or medication you take, ask your doctor for their advice.

As of right now, it seems that high doses of curcumin might be problematic for some people. Lower doses appear to present very few side effects for most of the people who consume them. All in all, curcumin is one of those substances that is likely safe in moderation.

What does research say about Curcumin and it's health benefits?

Curcumin Research & Facts Related to Cancer

Although we have spent a lot of time talking about curcumin in relation to cancer, we should probably expound upon a few more important facts and the research that is being done.

Why don't we start off with some facts about curcumin that have not already been discussed?

Take, for example, a study conducted in 2008 that showed higher doses of curcumin seemed to help fend off pancreatic cancer cells in particular. Since a higher degree of bioavailability was required, researchers created a supplement called Theracurmin.

This supplement is marketed as being the best absorbed type of curcumin out there. However, more testing needs to be done to determine just how well Theracurmin truly works. Either way, it shows some promise for fighting off cancer cells.

As far as bioavailability of curcumin goes, only about 1% of it becomes bioavailable after a human being orally takes it. That is not too helpful for trying to combat those pesky and powerful tumor cells. In fact, about 40% of curcumin ends up coming out in your feces, completely unchanged in its form.

Scientists have tried many different ways to negate the problem of bioavailability. Everything has been done, from liposomal curcumin to adding in some adjuvant (a substance that improves the immune system's response to an antigen). They have even gone the route of creating curcumin nanoparticals.

A synthetically created form of curcumin, known as dimethoxycurcumin, is shown to generate apoptosis in Caki cells. It is considered to be quite potent and has a high number of molecular targets. The verdict is, of course, still out on whether dimethoxycurcumin (DMC for short) is completely effective at killing cancer cells.

As part of their review, researchers Susan J. Hewlings and Douglas S. Kalman noted that a lot of the curcumin studies out there were conducted on people with known health conditions, not on healthy populations. They did, however, note that one study done on healthy adults between the ages of 40 and 60 years of age yielded some interesting results.

In that study, participants were given curcumin or a placebo for four weeks straight. By the end of those four weeks, the group who received the curcumin dosages (80 mg per day of curcumin in a 400 mg powder) experienced lowered triglyceride levels and salivary amylase activity, which typically serves as an indicator for stress. Additionally, beta amyloid plaque (which is linked with brain aging) and plasma alanine amino transferase activities (which can indicate liver damage) were found to be lessened.

As this study suggests, curcumin might be beneficial for healthy people, not just people who already have cancer or vast amounts of bodily inflammation. It has a lot of preventative potential, which, when given in low dosages, could keep healthy people in good health as they get older.

Alzheimer's Disease (AD) comes up in some curcumin research since cancer can lead to cognitive decline. Studies have found that about 70% of cancer patients exprience cognitive impairment. One study reports that more women who were treated with chemotherapy for breast cancer received dementia diagnoses years down the line than those who didn't.

Given that curcumin demonstrates strong neuroprotective capabilities, some cancer researchers are now looking into curcumin as both a cancer fighting substance and a way to prevent dementia down the line. The research out there on this topic right now is fairly limited, but more studies could possibly show a link between curcumin supplementation and prevention of cognitive decline in those who get diagnosed with cancer.

On a particularly juicy note, there is one noted curcumin researcher who came under scrutiny not too long ago for some of the research he had published. Bharat Aggarwal of University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center had 19 research papers retracted due to fraudulent charges by April of 2018. He even falsely stated that a cancer conference in India held in February of 2018 was sponsored by the MD Anderson Cancer Center.

This last bit of information is a good reminder for all of us who are looking into curcumin research for help healing ourselves that not all research is done with the best of intentions. All research has biases, even that regarding curcumin. Still, that cannot take away from the numerous peer-reviewed studies which demonstrate curcumin's potential healing and preventative capabilities.

Conclusion

Curcumin is such a commonly used substance, yet we still do not know just how much this turmeric-derived polyphenol can do for preventing and maybe even curing cancer. It certainly has a lot of potential, as the research done to date suggests.

Of course, the studies that have been done so far are limited. How well does curcumin work on the average healthy human being? It is hard to be sure since studies have mainly been done on rodents, and the few clinical trials completed were mostly on adult humans with chronic health conditions.

Still, the fact of the matter is that curcumin seems able to treat a lot of different health conditions due to its unique chemical make-up. It improves your body's nutrient absorption capabilities, attacks invading free radicals, and thereby reduces the amount of inflammation you experience.

Are you ready to give curcumin a try? If so, you can start off by slowing adding curcumin into your diet. The recommended daily turmeric dosage for treating inflammation is 500 to 1,000 mg of curcuminoids or, when used on its own, 200 mg in a single teaspoon. The typical Indian diet involves a daily consumption of about 60-100 mg of curcumin every day, but you will likely need to start off with a much smaller dosage and build up from there.

Or you can begin taking curcumin supplements. Please see Top List on our site for products we have researched. 

To sum it all up, curcumin is something that many people find helps them heal. Like any substance, it will not work the same for everyone. Follow your doctor's or nutritionist's orders when it comes to supplementing your diet with curcumin, and remember that you need to give it time to do its work.

Proven Benefits of Curcumin

Is Curcumin Curing Inflammation?
The Proven Properties of Curcumin That Reduce Inflammation You've probably heard of curcumin in either its extract form or as[...]
Does Curcumin Have Cancer Fighting Effects?
Can Curcumin Combat the Spread of Cancer Cells?Curcumin is getting a lot of hype in the health and wellness world[...]
Proven Benefits of Curcumin
12 Wonderfully Proven Safe and Effective Benefits of Curcumin to Boost Your Healthy Lifestyle What Is Curcumin and What Does It[...]

12 Wonderfully Proven Safe and Effective Benefits of Curcumin to Boost Your Healthy Lifestyle 

What Is Curcumin and What Does It Have to Do With Turmeric?

Curcumin is a popular topic. You might often see it mentioned along with turmeric. Maybe you're wondering, as I wondered, if curcumin is another name for turmeric.

It turns out that curcumin is not same as turmeric. Curcumin is the biologically active chemical found in the Turmeric plant, a flowering plant from the ginger family native to India and Southeast Asia.

If you've ever handled turmeric, you know that it's liable to stain everything yellow. Curcumin is what gives turmeric its bright yellow color and ability to stain. It’s responsible for the biological effects of turmeric that have attracted so much attention.  

Turmeric has been known and used in Asia since ancient times, but It wasn’t until very recently that curcumin was discovered in turmeric. 

We've known about turmeric since ancient times. It has a long history of use in India and Southeast Asia, but it wasn't until very recently that curcumin was discovered in turmeric.

Two German scientists, Vogel and Pelletier, discovered curcumin within the rhizomes of the turmeric plant and published their discovery in 1818. They called it the yellow coloring matter of turmeric. At that point, curcumin's chemical significance wasn't understood.

Vogel’s son was the first to fully isolate curcumin from the turmeric plant in 1842, but he never shared his method. We were left in the dark about the structure of curcumin for decades after. 

In 1910, scientists Milobedzka and Lampe isolated curcumin and identified its chemical structure as diferuloylmethane. Years later they managed to synthesize the compound.

It wasn't until 1949 that curcumin was understood to have more properties than a yellow dye. In this year, Schraufstatter and Bernt found that curcumin was a biologically active compound that displayed antibiotic effects

While curcumin didn't seem to capture a lot of attention after the discovery of its antibacterial properties, in the last decade interest in the properties of curcumin seems to have exploded along with interest of the general public.

With high public interest has come high claims about what curcumin is capable of doing. It’s hard for you to know what's true and what's not.

How Do People Make Use of Curcumin?

It might surprise you to know that humans have made use of curcumin through turmeric since 2500 BC.

It's a big part of traditional medicine in parts of Asia and one of the most popular remedies of Ayurvedic medicine, a traditional Indian medicine. In Ayurvedic medicine, turmeric is used to heal wounds, skin, aid congestion, and much more. 

Curcumin has long been the dye of choice for giving clothing a bright yellow color. I'm sure you can see why. It's been used to dye Buddhist robes and festive clothing for children. 

Turmeric and curcumin also have a long history as being used as a spice. It gives many of the traditional Indian dishes their bright yellow color and unique flavors. People use turmeric in all sorts of dishes today, not just traditional Indian foods. 

Today, we can take pure curcumin in a supplemental form. People take curcumin supplements to treat anxiety, depression, arthritis. Some believe that taking curcumin will prevent cancer, heart disease, oxidative damage, and improve their overall well-being.

So what are the real benefits of curcumin? Let's look at the evidence. 

The 12 Evidence-backed Benefits of Curcumin

curcumin can help with depression

1. Curcumin relieves symptoms of depression

Curcumin can make you happier. If you’ve ever struggled with depression or depressive feelings, you'll want to try using curcumin as an anti-depressant.

Curcumin has been incredibly effective in treating depressive symptoms in animal studies. What's effective for animals does not always work for people. Thanks to the newer human studies, we know that curcumin is also great at treating depression in people, as effective as a traditional anti-depressant!

A large study, published in the journal Phytotherapy, tested the effectiveness of curcumin for treating depression against fluoxetine and a curcumin-fluoxetine combination. It found that curcumin was as effective as fluoxetine at relieving symptoms.

In another study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, 58 people with Major Depressive Disorder were treated with either curcumin or a placebo. After eight weeks, curcumin was found to be significantly more effective at relieving the symptoms of depression than the placebo. Curcumin was most useful for those with atypical depression, a notoriously hard-to-treat form of depression.

meta-analysis of six studies with 337 patients showed that across the studies curcumin was comparably effective for treating depression when compared to a placebo.

2. Curcumin improves circulation and helps prevent clots

Good blood circulation is essential for good health. When your blood circulation is excellent, your brain gets the oxygen it needs, and you're less likely to form a blood clot. Curcumin is capable of making your blood flow as it should be.

In a study of post-menopausal women, curcumin was tested to see if blood flow improved when compared to exercise. Both curcumin and exercise increased the blood flow of the women. Another study, published in the journal BMB Reports, shows that curcumin possesses anticoagulant activities.

Anti-coagulants are compounds that help prevent the blood from clotting, so curcumin's anti-coagulant nature is especially attractive if you're at risk of heart attack, stroke, or of forming blood clots. On anti-coagulants, blood doesn't clot and form blockages in veins, so blood flow is also indirectly improved.

3. Curcumin has anti-cancer effects

I view the possibility of getting cancer to one of the more frightening possibilities in life. You never know if you’ll get cancer until you either get it or are dying after living a cancer-free life. We do know that certain factors in our lives can increase or decrease our risk of developing cancer.

Curcumin is one of those factors that decrease your likelihood of developing cancer. In animal studies, it has proven to have a strong anti-cancer effect on more than one type of cancer. In the rare studies done on people, curcumin also displays anti-cancer effects.

study published in the journal Molecular Reports, tested the effect that curcumin had on people with prostate cancer. Curcumin inhibited the growth of certain kinds of prostate cancer cells.

A different study found that curcumin had an anti-mutagen effect on chronic smokers. A mutagen is anything that causes DNA changes. DNA changes caused by mutagens can lead to cancer.

Curcumin helps reduce stress and anxiety

4. Curcumin reduces stress and anxiety

You've probably felt anxious sometime in your life, and you might deal with anxiety on a regular basis. Anxiety disorders are the most common type of mental disorder.

Whether you feel it only before some nerve-wracking event or on an everyday basis, you can reduce your anxiety with curcumin. Curcumin is a natural anxiolytic, with many studies finding that it reduces symptoms of stress in rats. 

In one study, published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, curcumin and saffron were given to people with Major Depressive Disorder. Curcumin and saffron were found to be effective in reducing symptoms of anxiety.

5. Curcumin improves memory

Just about everyone would like to have a better memory. If you’re looking to improve your memory, curcumin can help you out.

study, published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, gave people 180 milligrams of curcumin over an 18-month period. Those who took curcumin showed a 28 percent improvement on memory tests, while those who took the placebo showed no improvement.

Turmeric and Curcumin help improve memory and brain functionurcumin help improve memory and brain function

6. Curcumin is good for brain health and may protect against age-related disease

After learning that curcumin is good at improving memory and reducing anxiety and depression, you're probably not surprised to learn that it's good for brain health. 

Curcumin protects the brain by improving blood flow and protecting the brain against oxidative stress. Oxidative stress increases with aging. Oxidative stress plays a role in Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders.

study, published in the journal Neuroscience, found that curcumin protected the brain against oxidative stress. It also reduced mitochondrial dysfunction.

7. Curcumin lowers LDL cholesterol levels

An abundance of readily available animal products has led to an abundance of high cholesterol in our population. High levels of LDC cholesterol will cause cholesterol buildups in the walls of arteries which can lead to heart disease.

One study tested curcumin's effect on patient levels of HDL and LDL cholesterol. Low doses of curcumin lowered the levels of LDL cholesterol in patients.

Curcumin helps promote vibrant and clear skin

8. Curcumin heals the skin

It's hard to hide damage to your skin. It's especially frustrating when the damage causes scars or is a reoccurring condition. Curcumin can speed up skin healing, prevent scarring, and help treat some skin disease.  

In one study, published in the West Indian Medical Journal, turmeric was applied topically to cesarean scars. The scars treated with turmeric healed faster with fewer complications.

review of available research data on curcumin, published in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, found that curcumin could help treat several different skin conditions. It aided in the treatment of psoriasis, scabies, and scleroderma.

9. Curcumin is beneficial to the health of the gastrointestinal system

Your gastrointestinal health is important for many reasons. The health of this system influences your likelihood to develop obesity, diabetes, poor brain health, and more.

An analysis of existing research, published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology, found that curcumin was beneficial to the gastrointestinal organs. Curcumin accumulates in and shows positive effects on the stomach, intestines, and liver. The existing data suggested that curcumin was likely to be useful for treating gastrointestinal disorders.

In a small pilot study, curcumin was given to patients with irritable bowel syndrome. The patients showed a reduction in their symptoms after taking curcumin.

study of the effects of curcumin with mesalamine in patients with mild to moderate ulcerative colitis found that the combination induced remission of the disease. 

10. Curcumin protects the liver and treats liver diseases

Your liver is a very important organ, serving over 500 vital functions. The liver breaks down toxins, metabolizes fats and proteins, forms bile, stores vitamins, store minerals, activates enzymes, sends out hormones, and does many more services for the body. Curcumin can protect your liver and might help treat existing conditions. 

meta-analysis, published in the journal Nutrients, found that curcumin had a positive effect on the liver by altering different cellular pathways. Curcumin was able to protect the liver and treat liver disease.

11. Curcumin benefits joint health

Curcumin is good for your joints. Its anti-inflammatory nature makes it great for protecting you against inflammatory joint diseases and relieving joint pain.

meta-analysis from the Journal of Medicinal Food found that curcumin was as good at alleviating arthritis symptoms as ibuprofen and diclofenac sodium, a medication used to treat arthritis symptoms. Additionally, curcumin didn’t have as many adverse reactions as some of the medications used to treat arthritis.

study, published in the journal Arthritis Research Therapy, used found that curcumin slowed the progression of osteoarthritis in lab mice. Topically applied curcumin protected the cartilage and collagen of joints.

A small pilot study, from the journal Phytotherapy Research, found that curcumin relieved pain in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Curcumin was even more effective at relieving pain than diclofenac.

Curcumin even helps relieve joint pain and aches

12. Curcumin may help in preventing and treating diabetes

One of my favorite benefits of curcumin is its ability to prevent diabetes. One in four adults will develop diabetes over the course of their lifetime. They'll have to avoid sugar, inject themselves with insulin, take their blood glucose levels, and potentially deal with all the health issues that are associated with diabetes.

If you want to avoid developing diabetes or treat your existing diabetes, curcumin could be helpful to you. It could even be better than existing treatments like insulin, which might eventually make diabetes worse by further increasing insulin resistance.

In a study, published in the journal Diabetes Care, pre-diabetic individuals were given a curcumin serum over a 9-month period. While about 16% of the people given a placebo developed type 2 diabetes, none of the people treated with curcumin developed the disease. 

In another study, published in the journal Molecular Nutrition and Food Research, researchers gave curcumin to overweight people with type 2 diabetes. Curcumin lowered the blood glucose levels of the subjects, suggesting that it could be used to treat an existing diabetes condition.

review, published in the journal Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, of existing literature, found that curcumin both prevented and treated diabetes and related diseases. Curcumin positively affected most of the principal aspects of diabetes. 

The Side Effects of Curcumin That You Need to Know About

Generally, curcumin is a benign substance. Part of the reason it's so interesting to researchers is that it has a wide array of helpful effects while having little to no adverse compared to traditional medicine. 

You're probably safe if you decide to use curcumin, but there are some side effects that you need to watch out for. It's even more important to understand the possible negatives of curcumin if you take medication or have existing medical problems.

1. Look out for curcumin’s interactions with other medications

• Curcumin interacts with blood thinning medications.

If you take blood thinners, you should skip out on the curcumin. Coumadin, Plavix, and aspirin are considered blood-thinning medications. Curcumin also thins the blood and can make the effect of blood-thinners much stronger than intended and cause dangerous bleeding.

• Curcumin interacts with drugs that reduce stomach acid.

Curcumin can interact with drugs meant to reduce stomach acid, like Tagamet, Pepcid, Zantac, Nexium, Prevacid, and Omeprazole. It can even make the drugs do the opposite of what they're supposed to and increase stomach acid production. That doesn't sound like it would be a pleasant effect if you're already having issues with too much stomach acid.

• Curcumin interacts with drugs that lower blood sugar.

Curcumin can make the effect of diabetic drugs stronger. This will potentially lower the blood sugar too much and cause hypoglycemia.

2. Look out for how curcumin affects these health conditions

• Curcumin can adversely affect people with diabetes.

While curcumin can be enormously helpful for diabetes, it also comes with risks. It can lower the blood sugar of people with diabetes too much, which can be dangerous.

• Curcumin can be dangerous for people who have bleeding disorders.

Curcumin prevents blood clotting. For people with certain bleeding disorders, curcumin can put them at risk of bleeding too much. 

• Curcumin worsens gallbladder problems.

If you have gallstones or other gallbladder problems, you should avoid curcumin as it can make your condition worse.

• Curcumin can make anemia worse.

If you're anemic or have an iron deficiency, you should probably avoid curcumin. Curcumin can lower the absorption of iron.

• Curcumin can worsen the symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease.

Curcumin can increase stomach problems in people with gastroesophageal reflux disease. If you have this disease, you should be cautious about taking curcumin.

3. Look out for these other curcumin precautions and side effects

• Don't take curcumin while pregnant or breastfeeding.

Taking curcumin could potentially cause a miscarriage. Curcumin interacts with so many things that it's hard to know how else it would affect a developing baby. It's better to avoid taking while so little is known.

• Curcumin might hurt your chances of having a baby.

Curcumin might lower the fertility of men. Curcumin has been shown to lower the testosterone and movement of sperm in animal studies.

• Curcumin can be dangerous to take before surgery.

Curcumin lowers the blood's ability to clot, and that can be dangerous for surgery. You're more likely to bleed out during surgery if your blood isn't clotting well. Don't take curcumin before surgery and let your doctor know when you last took curcumin.

​Additional Information About Curcumin and Some Research to Go With It

1. There isn’t all that much curcumin in turmeric

Curcumin may be responsible for the health benefits of turmeric and its impressive abilities to stain everything, so you might think that it makes up a large part of the turmeric plant. Or you might think that when you eat curry, you get a good amount of curcumin. 

You can’t get all that much curcumin from the turmeric plant. According to one study, the highest amount of curcumin that could be found in pure turmeric powder made up 3.14% of the powder by weight.

2. Curcumin isn't all that bio-available to humans

Most of the curcumin we take doesn't get absorbed. Very little of curcumin is absorbed by the human body.

This can be a problem for taking curcumin medicinally, especially given that curcumin only makes up around 3% of turmeric powder.

3. Piperine increases the bioavailability of curcumin

Oral curcumin can still be helpful if it's taken with black pepper.

Piperine, a compound found in black pepper, increases the oral bioavailability of curcumin. When curcumin was administered orally with piperine, the absorption rate was found to increase by 2000%.

4. Curcumin has been synthesized and altered to forms that are more bio-available

Different forms of synthetic curcumin have been created to be more absorbant than curcumin. The versions of curcumin all have different rates of absorption. There is demethoxycurcumin, bisdemethoxycurcumin, and tetrahydrocurcumin. 

These forms of curcumin all show slightly different effects on the human body. They mostly act the same as curcumin and have all the same benefits.

5. Many of Curcumin's benefits come from only one of its properties

Curcumin is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent. Curcumin has a positive effect on so many diseases because many diseases are at least partially caused by inflammation. This one property of curcumin makes it good for so many issues.

In Conclusion

Curcumin is an amazing substance that has been around to benefit us for a long time. We've used it as a dye, spice, and medicine through turmeric.

We are only just starting to appreciate how useful it can be for our health, as a preventative, alleviator, and a cure. We might even find other ways it can benefit us in the future.

There are more some concerns regarding curcumin. It might not work for everyone, but for you and most other people, curcumin is something that will aid in living the healthiest life possible.

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Can Curcumin Combat the Spread of Cancer Cells?

Curcumin is getting a lot of hype in the health and wellness world right now. It is known for its anti-inflammatory properties and is even said to help stop the spread of cancer cells. But just how accurate is this?

Let's first take a look at what curcumin is and how it works. Curcumin is actually found in the root of the plant Curcuma longa, otherwise known as turmeric. In fact, the root of a turmeric plant has about 2-5% curcumin in it.

This vividly yellow substance is a member of the ginger family known as Zingiberaceae. While turmeric has been used as a healing spice for hundreds of years in India, it is only recently that curcumin extraction and use has become vastly popular. In 2014 alone, United States (where the market is most booming) curcumin sales topped $20 Million.

The reason curcumin sales are so high is not just because it goes well in many dishes; it has some long-established health benefits. What, exactly, are some of its most well-known healing properties? The ones that we will discuss in this article are:

  • Anti-oxidants

  • Anti-inflammation
  • The ability to fight off cancer cells

Curcumin has a lot of anti-oxidants, meaning it is able to fend off unwanted bodily inflammation. This serves as a good pain reliever, too. The truth is, most chronic illnesses (including cancer) involve ravaging inflammation, and fighting it off can be extremely difficult.

Scientifically speaking, curcumin works by suppressing the activation of a protein complex called NF-kB. NF-kB regulates the creation of pro-inflammation cytokines. It has also been found that curcumin inhibits the pro-inflammatory enzymes 5-LOX and COX-2, as well as a pro-inflammatory cytokine named TNF (tumor necrosis factor). It even limits the expression of inflammation-linked molecules involved in surface adhesion.

The thing about chronic disease is that it greatly exacerbates bodily inflammation. Inflammation is actually a normal response and can help us when we are ill or injured. But, when it gets triggered to excess by a chronic disease, it can cause all kinds of damage.

A lot of the synthetic drugs that you can take for inflammatory conditions only work on one pathway; curcumin works on many different inflammation pathways. Curcumin itself is a strong antioxidant, and it can stop free radicals throughout the body from causing chaos. And, the good thing is, it is easy to prepare as part of a yummy meal.

Cooking With Curcumin

How do you cook with Curcumin?

One dilemma you might have while considering adding curcumin to your daily regimen is whether you should just add it to your food or take it as a supplement.

Honestly, curcumin is a great addition to your diet, even if you aren't trying to stave off cancer. Not only does it fight off inflammation, but it tastes fantastic when prepared with the right recipes.

So, what are the most popular ways that people add curcumin into their food? It is a staple of many Thai, Indian, Indonesian, and Western dishes. In particular, you will find curcumin (which is typically listed as the ingredient turmeric) in curry dishes.

What exactly is curry? Most people who have eaten it before would tell you that it is kind of like a sauce or gravy. In fact, the word "curry" derives from the Tamil word for "sauce", "kari". There are actually thousands of different types of curry, and each style of curry has its own unique flavor.

Now, curry powder is actually a dry mix of various spices, which can include curcumin. This is a concept concocted by British soldiers returning home from India during British rule there. Essentially, what the British were trying to do was replicate Indian curry in a British fashion by throwing together a bunch of popular Indian ingredients.

Of course, that was not really curry's intended use. Instead, curry is used when you want to pay fry spices using oil. Raw curry spices (like curcumin) can have a pretty shocking taste, but heating them with oil lets those flavors combine and emerge.

Let us take a look at a few of the many types of curry.

First off, you have Southeast Asian curry, which is typically fused with coconut milk for an added hint of sweetness. Thailand in particular has found popularity with their massaman, green, and red curries.

You will find curry in Japan, as it was introduced via the British. The Japanese mix in vegetables and meat, to which the curry adds a good bit of spice. Middle Eastern countries also use curry with their meats, but they tend to prefer using small amounts of dry curries for flavoring.

To be certain, India has some of the most renowned curry dishes in the world. In India, you can find curry in chicken tikka masala, which is gaining a lot of ground in Western parts of the world.

The good news is that you don't have to go to India - or even to an Indian restaurant - to enjoy curcumin-infused curry. You can make it from the comfort of your own home. Starting off with chicken or butter chicken curry is the recommended route to take for newcomers. Chutney and freshly basked naan are often thrown in as sides to enjoy with a curry dish.

You don't have to eat curry to get your curcumin. Turmeric can be mixed with ginger to make a delicious tea that helps fight off inflammation.

If you like tofu or eggs, adding some curcumin into your scramble can create a flavorful meal. It also works really well with veggies like potatoes, cauliflower, and any root vegetable. You can even make a regular ol' rice dish or a fancier pilaf and add some curcumin to it.

Do you like smoothies? If so, you might be pleasantly surprised to find out that curcumin works really well when blended into a smoothie. For those of you who are dairy-free (as many of us are sine dairy can trigger inflammation), there are quite a few curcumin-based, dairy-free smoothie recipes available.

Since turmeric (and, therefore, curcumin) is fat-soluble, you can use it in a smoothie to help improve nutrient absorption in your body. Just blend in some chopped bananas, unsweetened coconut milk, vanilla extract, cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, and a hint of salt and pepper, and you've got yourself one delicious - and healthy - smoothie.

Overall, curcumin has a long history of use and a lot of diversity. Scientists are not completely sure of its potential health benefits, but it certainly makes for an excellent addition to many types of meals.

Supplementing Curcumin

As mentioned above, turmeric contains about 2-5% curcumin. If you notice the desired benefits just from adding turmeric to your diet, wonderful! But if not, you will strongly want to consider taking supplements, which can deliver much more curcumin to your body.

Curcumin Benefits and Cancer Studies

New Enland Journal of Medicine

The nifty thing about the human body is that it will try its very best to fight off cancer. It does so through cancer-suppressing genes. When we are younger, it is easier for our bodies to fight off infections, but as we grow older, these genes become muted. Scientists are starting to find that curcumin might actually reverse this process.

To understand how curcumin benefits those who want to fend off cancer, you should have a basic understanding of how cancer happens. Our bodies are made up of trillions of cells, and somewhere between100-130 billion of them die every day. Cell death by apoptosis (suicide) or necrosis (injury) is normal and necessary for any organism to thrive.

Unfortunately, the body doesn't always function as it should. One of the triggers for tumor cell expansion is that they evade apoptosis. They also are insensitive to growth inhibitory signals, are self-sufficient with growth signals, are able to sustain angiogenesis (the formation of new blood vessels), invade tissues, have endless replication capabilities, and metatasize (meaning they spread to other areas of the body).

Cancer rates differ across the globe. Researchers theorize that the vast difference in rates is due to the consumption of curcumin. Is it mere coincidence that southeast Asia has the lowest cancer rates and highest consumption of curcumin?

Curcumin has been a staple of Ayurvedic, Siddha, and Unani medicine for ages. It is only recently that researchers started studying its healing effects, particularly in relation to cancer. One such study found that topical administration of curcumin on mice reduced the presence of tumors by 18-25%. Other studies (by Huang et. al and Conney et. al) performed on mice found that curcumin prevented the promotion of tumor cells.

As Ravindran, Prasad, and Aggarwal found, curcumin can bind to up to 33 different proteins, including 5-LOX, NF-kB, and COX2. In fact, it seems that curcumin is able to induce cell death in about 40 biomolecules.

The neat thing about curcumin is that it does not seem to kill of normal cells. It guns directly for tumor cells. This is why scientists are so keen on researching curcumin as a potential cancer treatment. Several clinical trials and many animal-based tests have been done on curcumin as an annihilator of tumor cells, and the results are pretty positive. Still, a lot more testing needs to be done to really analyze the benefits of curcumin.

Curcumin Side Effects and Precautions For Cancer Patients

So, does curcumin have any side effects? Are there any precautions that cancer patients should take while using curcumin? The answer to both of these questions is "yes", but it is not a universal answer.

We need to separate the side effects of turmeric and curcumin here. It is important to note that pure turmeric seems to be safe for most people, but turmeric powders have been found to contain a lot of inexpensive fillers and even lead. Hence, using turmeric in its pure form is recommended over a powdered mixture.

The side effects of turmeric are fairly upfront and mostly based on whether you are using a powdered mixture. As turmeric has approximately 2% oxalate, those with predispositions to kidney stones should not use it in high quantities. 

Turmeric powders can be especially dangerous for people with Celiac disease or gluten intolerance since they are loaded with fillers such as rye, barley, and wheat flour. They also tend to include food colorants that are meant to improve the turmeric's color, as flour can dilute it. Acid yellow 36 is found in a lot of Indian turmeric mixes and, in animal-based studies, was found to cause neurological damage and even cancer. Just know that acid yellow 36 is illegal to use in Europe and the United States.

As for curcumin itself, it is considered to be relatively safe for most people to consume. However, there are individuals who cannot consume large quantities of it, as it can cause mild to moderate side effects.

These side effects, as found in one study can include:

  • Skin rashes (Although this is rare, participants in one study reported skin rashes after taking 8,000 mg or higher doses of curcumin.)

  • Nausea and headaches (in doses of 450 mg or higher)
  • Gastrointestinal issues (such as bloating and diarrhea, when taken in excess of 1,000 mg per day)

Those already taking prescription medications or other dietary supplements should take note that curcumin might interact with them. There do not seem to many validated drug interactions, but this is still a possibility given our limited knowledge of how curcumin - especially in higher dosages - will act.

There is also reason for pregnant or breastfeeding women to take caution, as its impact on unborn children is not yet known. It is always better to play it safe. If you are unsure about whether you should take curcumin based on any medical condition you have or dietary supplement or medication you take, ask your doctor for their advice.

As of right now, it seems that high doses of curcumin might be problematic for some people. Lower doses appear to present very few side effects for most of the people who consume them. All in all, curcumin is one of those substances that is likely safe in moderation.

What does research say about Curcumin and it's health benefits?

Curcumin Research & Facts Related to Cancer

Although we have spent a lot of time talking about curcumin in relation to cancer, we should probably expound upon a few more important facts and the research that is being done.

Why don't we start off with some facts about curcumin that have not already been discussed?

Take, for example, a study conducted in 2008 that showed higher doses of curcumin seemed to help fend off pancreatic cancer cells in particular. Since a higher degree of bioavailability was required, researchers created a supplement called Theracurmin.

This supplement is marketed as being the best absorbed type of curcumin out there. However, more testing needs to be done to determine just how well Theracurmin truly works. Either way, it shows some promise for fighting off cancer cells.

As far as bioavailability of curcumin goes, only about 1% of it becomes bioavailable after a human being orally takes it. That is not too helpful for trying to combat those pesky and powerful tumor cells. In fact, about 40% of curcumin ends up coming out in your feces, completely unchanged in its form.

Scientists have tried many different ways to negate the problem of bioavailability. Everything has been done, from liposomal curcumin to adding in some adjuvant (a substance that improves the immune system's response to an antigen). They have even gone the route of creating curcumin nanoparticals.

A synthetically created form of curcumin, known as dimethoxycurcumin, is shown to generate apoptosis in Caki cells. It is considered to be quite potent and has a high number of molecular targets. The verdict is, of course, still out on whether dimethoxycurcumin (DMC for short) is completely effective at killing cancer cells.

As part of their review, researchers Susan J. Hewlings and Douglas S. Kalman noted that a lot of the curcumin studies out there were conducted on people with known health conditions, not on healthy populations. They did, however, note that one study done on healthy adults between the ages of 40 and 60 years of age yielded some interesting results.

In that study, participants were given curcumin or a placebo for four weeks straight. By the end of those four weeks, the group who received the curcumin dosages (80 mg per day of curcumin in a 400 mg powder) experienced lowered triglyceride levels and salivary amylase activity, which typically serves as an indicator for stress. Additionally, beta amyloid plaque (which is linked with brain aging) and plasma alanine amino transferase activities (which can indicate liver damage) were found to be lessened.

As this study suggests, curcumin might be beneficial for healthy people, not just people who already have cancer or vast amounts of bodily inflammation. It has a lot of preventative potential, which, when given in low dosages, could keep healthy people in good health as they get older.

Alzheimer's Disease (AD) comes up in some curcumin research since cancer can lead to cognitive decline. Studies have found that about 70% of cancer patients exprience cognitive impairment. One study reports that more women who were treated with chemotherapy for breast cancer received dementia diagnoses years down the line than those who didn't.

Given that curcumin demonstrates strong neuroprotective capabilities, some cancer researchers are now looking into curcumin as both a cancer fighting substance and a way to prevent dementia down the line. The research out there on this topic right now is fairly limited, but more studies could possibly show a link between curcumin supplementation and prevention of cognitive decline in those who get diagnosed with cancer.

On a particularly juicy note, there is one noted curcumin researcher who came under scrutiny not too long ago for some of the research he had published. Bharat Aggarwal of University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center had 19 research papers retracted due to fraudulent charges by April of 2018. He even falsely stated that a cancer conference in India held in February of 2018 was sponsored by the MD Anderson Cancer Center.

This last bit of information is a good reminder for all of us who are looking into curcumin research for help healing ourselves that not all research is done with the best of intentions. All research has biases, even that regarding curcumin. Still, that cannot take away from the numerous peer-reviewed studies which demonstrate curcumin's potential healing and preventative capabilities.

Conclusion

Curcumin is such a commonly used substance, yet we still do not know just how much this turmeric-derived polyphenol can do for preventing and maybe even curing cancer. It certainly has a lot of potential, as the research done to date suggests.

Of course, the studies that have been done so far are limited. How well does curcumin work on the average healthy human being? It is hard to be sure since studies have mainly been done on rodents, and the few clinical trials completed were mostly on adult humans with chronic health conditions.

Still, the fact of the matter is that curcumin seems able to treat a lot of different health conditions due to its unique chemical make-up. It improves your body's nutrient absorption capabilities, attacks invading free radicals, and thereby reduces the amount of inflammation you experience.

Are you ready to give curcumin a try? If so, you can start off by slowing adding curcumin into your diet. The recommended daily turmeric dosage for treating inflammation is 500 to 1,000 mg of curcuminoids or, when used on its own, 200 mg in a single teaspoon. The typical Indian diet involves a daily consumption of about 60-100 mg of curcumin every day, but you will likely need to start off with a much smaller dosage and build up from there.

Or you can begin taking curcumin supplements. Please see Top List on our site for products we have researched. 

To sum it all up, curcumin is something that many people find helps them heal. Like any substance, it will not work the same for everyone. Follow your doctor's or nutritionist's orders when it comes to supplementing your diet with curcumin, and remember that you need to give it time to do its work.

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