Written collaboratively with Dr Patti Zub
Ever wish there was just one supplement that could take care of all (or most) of your aches, pains and worries about future health?
Well, although that’s impossible… Curcumin is one spicy supplement that can do more than most others on the market.
Curcumin is often interchanged with Turmeric. However, it’s actually extracted from the turmeric root which is harvested, cleaned, dried and then made into a powder to be used as the Curcumin spice. Turmeric gives the spice its golden yellow color. Just like an orange is a good source of vitamin C, Turmeric is a known source of curcumin.
Curcumin has been used for over 2000 years, initially as a dye, later as a spice, and thankfully for us now for medicinal purposes.
More than 13,000 studies have been done on curcumin…. And we read every one of them …. Well maybe not all of them. We are continuously reading and over and over find ourselves in awe of its medicinal properties. Curcumin has been found to effect 60-100 molecular targets in our cells. Given this broad range of targets it’s not surprising that research shows it to have a variety of beneficial effects in lab and animal studies in addition to human trials. Curcumin is most well-known for its anti-inflammatory effects. Several studies have shown it works as well as, and often better than, standard anti-inflammatories (ibuprofen, Aleve, Advil, Diclofenac) without side effects AND with additional benefits in osteoarthritis and acute pain. Human studies have also shown reduction in acute pain, decreased muscle soreness after exercise, improved muscle mass in seniors, improvement in prostate symptoms and sexual satisfaction in men with enlarged prostates (BPH),prostate cancer and improvement in psoriasis.
There are three types of “curcuminoids” in turmeric known as curcumin (CURC), bis-demethyoxy-curumin (BDMC), and demethyoxy-curcumin (DMC). They have all been studied and found to have differing properties that will makes each more or less effective than the other for certain conditions. For example, BDMC is superior to CURC and DMC in its anti-cancer and anti-oxidant activity; however, DMC is better at inhibiting breast cancer cell growth. They are all equal at controlling blood sugar in diabetic mice. At this time there are no products available that separate these curcuminoid components out so all curcumin supplements will have each of these bioactive compounds in varying quantities.
Curcumin prevents progression of pre-diabetes to diabetes, and reverses diabetic changes to the eyes and blood vessels. It also improves eye health in patients with chronic uveitis and chorioretinopathy. Curcumin has been shown to reduce depression as well total and “bad” (LDL) cholesterol. This “spice of life” adds quality to life with a statistical reduction in dementiasymptoms. Lastly, patients with chronic peripheral neuropathy (nerve pain) showed improvement in symptoms when treated with curcumin.
None of these studies have shown any significant side effects or toxicity with doses ranging from 1000mg to 4000mg daily. One of the challenges of using curcumin in higher doses for medicinal purposes is making it easily absorbed by the gastrointestinal tract. Unfortunately, in orderfor our body to assimilate (use) these qualities of the curcumin, it needs a ‘transport system’ of sorts as a way to make them more bioavailable to deliver these benefits to our cells. There are many curcumin supplements available of varying quality and absorbability. In our practice we use formulations that enhance absorption and bioavailability. Our fav’s are: Pure Encapsulation’sCurcumin 500 with Bioperine, Integrative Therapeutic’s Theracurmin HP and their Curcumax Pro.