Inflammation, Joint disorders | May 22, 2018 | Author: Naturopath
These days, the benefits of turmeric extend beyond flavour enhancement of food. This is due to it’s active constituent called curcumin which is responsible for turmeric’s potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Taking curcumin in a concentrated form is a more effective way to reap the health benefits which range from skin support to heart health.
Curcumin is the principle curcuminoid found in high concentrations in turmeric. It is responsible for the spice’s bright yellow hue. Unfortunately curcumin is poorly absorbed in the gut and this is why it is important to take a good quality formula for enhanced absorption. Examples include:
Curcumin has been extensively researched with the most promising effects observed with cancer; inflammatory conditions; skin, eye, and neurological disorders; diabetic nephropathy; and pain.
Inflammation is an integral component of many chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes. Extensive research using a wide range of models over the past several years has indicated that curcumin can reduce the inflammatory response by blocking the activity of various enzymes involved in the process. A study which compared the efficacy of several anti-inflammatory compounds including aspirin and ibuprofen found that curcumin was the most effective at relieving inflammation.
This has a powerful effect on our health, by reducing the risk of chronic diseases and improving the symptoms of other inflammatory conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease, asthma and arthritis.
Curcumin is cytotoxic to a variety of tumour cells by inducing cell death in a process referred to as apoptosis. It also has the potential to inhibit cancer development and progression, particularly in cancer cells of the prostate, biliary, pituitary gland, mouth and uterus. In some clinical trials, curcumin has been found to be useful in combination with existing drugs for pancreatic cancer patients.
Curcumin is one of the most promising natural treatments for arthritis. This is due to its ability to reduce inflammatory mediators which contribute to joint pain, damage and inflammation.
In a recent 2017 study, rheumatoid arthritis patients who received curcumin supplements in both low and high doses had significant improvements in their symptoms, pain levels and disease activity. Similar findings have been found for those who suffer from osteoarthritis. Participants who took curcumin experienced a reduction in inflammation, pain levels and the need for pharmaceutical medications.
Walking performance was improved showing that there was greater joint strength and mobility.
Other studies have found that curcumin may work as a natural painkiller and can help reduce joint pain as well as pain from other causes, like nerve damage.
Curcumin has the ability to improve the symptoms associated with diabetes such as insulin resistance, high blood sugars and lipids, poor pancreatic function as well as diabetes-related liver and kidney disorders, vascular diseases and nerve damage.
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Obesity is a major risk factor for the development of type 2 diabetes. Animal studies of curcumin show that it has promising anti-obesity properties.
Having high cholesterol is a risk factor for heart disease. This hard, waxy substance builds up in our arteries leading to narrowing and places excess strain on the heart. Curcumin can reduce the bad form of cholesterol, increase the good form and reduce total cholesterol levels. This keeps our arteries and heart healthy.
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Curcumin has been found to affect various neurological disorders. In one study, curcumin treatment for 7 days was shown to reduce plaque formation and amyloid beta accumulation in a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease. In addition, several other studies have shown that curcumin has the potential to be active against Parkinson's disease and epilepsy.
Mounting evidence over the past several years has indicated curcumin's efficacy in various psychiatric disorders. For example, in a 2014 study curcumin exhibited anti-depressant activity in people with major depressive disorder in as little as 4 to 8 weeks.
Disorders that affect the digestive system are common and if you have dyspepsia, reflux, peptic ulcers, IBS or inflammatory bowel disease, curcumin can be an effective treatment for these conditions. One study found that 144mg/day of curcumin resulted in a 60% decrease in irritable bowel syndrome symptoms when compared to placebo.
Curcumin possesses anti-microbial activities and has a long history of use in food preservation. Studies have found curcumin inhibits the activity of a wide-range of microbes including fungus, viruses and bacteria. It also has antiprotozoal activity against Giardia, Schistosoma worms and malaria.
Studies demonstrate the potential therapeutic role of curcumin in dry eye syndrome, allergic conjunctivitis, anterior uveitis, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy. Treatment in these conditions resulted in partial, but significant inhibition of nerve and vascular damage during oxidative stress and inflammatory diseases.
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The main side-effects of curcumin involve irritation of the gastrointestinal system and include nausea and diarrhoea. These symptoms are usually rare, and curcumin is generally a well-tolerated supplement for long-term use.
Curcumin may potentially interact with blood thinners and hypoglycaemic medications. Seek professional health advice before taking curcumin if you are on these pharmaceuticals. High doses are generally not recommended during pregnancy or for those wanting to conceive.
Braun L, Cohen M. Herbs and natural supplements: An evidence-based guide vol. 2. Churchill Livingstone, Australia
Amalraj A, et al. A Novel Highly Bioavailable Curcumin Formulation Improves Symptoms and Diagnostic Indicators in Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Two-Dose, Three-Arm, and Parallel-Group Study. J Med Food. 2017 Oct;20(10):1022-1030
Gupta SC, et al. Discovery of Curcumin, a Component of the Golden Spice, and Its Miraculous Biological Activities. Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol. 2012 Mar; 39(3): 283–299