Curcumin Health Benefits
Turmeric is one of the dietary supplements that can help to minimize the intensity of flare ups among psoriasis sufferers, according to the National Psoriasis Foundation. In fact many sufferers do use it to alleviate their symptoms, and it has been widely used in both traditional medicine and as an ingredient in food. It is definitely effective, according to most reviews and opinions.
The effects of turmeric on various skin conditions was investigated and the results published on the PubMed.gov website, and turmeric was determined to be an effective antioxidant as well as a natural ingredient. Turmeric was also mentioned in another survey, which looked at several herbs and their anti inflammatory properties. Turmeric has thus been proven effective in treating several different skin conditions, including curcumin psoriasis, and a study is being funded by the National Center for Complementary & Alternative Medicine that will look into whether it can effectively treat other conditions and diseases. These include acute respiratory distress syndrome, post menopausal osteoporosis and liver cancer.
Acne is one of the most well-known yet irritating skin diseases from way back and up to the present. Acne may appear in various ways such as black head, white head, red bumps, or worse, cyst. However, there is good news; there are studies that one of the most effective remedies to date is the curcumin acne problems can now be fixed, read on to find out how it will benefit your skin.
Curcumin is a type of turmeric plant from the ginger family. It is popularly used by Indian practitioners because of its antiseptic and wound-healing properties. Anti-inflammatory is one of of the best effects you can get from it.
According to the acne sites, it may help heal and at the same time reduce the symptoms of acne. However, a professional health care practitioner should be available to assist you when using curcumin, acne will start to fade after your sessions with the curcumin.
Reduction of redness, size of the acne and speed up of the healing process is just few of its effective properties. During the healing process, a study conducted by Dr. Madalene Heng proved that to prevent the formation of scarring, block the PhK (an enzyme in the body) with topical curcumin.
Heng also noted that scarring in young patients with acne are devastated with their how they look and this is the same with patients with scars from burns. Early treatment is one of the key factors that Dr. Heng is pointing out. It prevents scar formation once the topical treatment is applied.
The one that neutralizes the damaging effects of free radicals from the cell tissue is the Curcumin that has a potent antioxidant; by lowering the inflammatory enzymes inside, both LOX and COX-2, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Ask your doctor today so you can prevent marks and burns by using curcumin, acne and scar fighting medicine.
Turmeric, the well-known and cherished spice from India, used traditionally as an anti-inflammatory and a relief for stomach irritation, has come a long way! Research has discovered turmeric’s health benefits reach far and wide. Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric responsible for its anti-inflammatory effects, can also facilitate the healing of:
- Wounds (external)
- Digestive distress
- The liver
- An antioxidant
- An anti-fungal
More of Turmeric’s Health Benefits
This brings us to turmeric’s other medicinal uses and the research surrounding it.
The Curcumin in turmeric is:
Turmeric’s health benefits stemming from its Curcumin component include anti-cancer properties related to its high level of antioxidants. These antioxidants lend to Curcumin’s ability to eliminate free radicals and heal the damage they leave behind.
Turmeric’s health benefits are apparent from its rating of 8 out of 326 foods on the antioxidant capacity ORAC scale (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) and its score of 127,068. The ORAC score measures the antioxidant capacity of foods and supplements and was developed by scientists at the National Institutes of Health. Foods and supplements ranking higher on the ORAC scale are believed to neutralize free radicals more effectively. The free-radical theory of aging tells us antioxidants slow down oxidation and the free radical damage that contributes to aging and disease, including cancer.
Free radicals and inflammation are the two main culprits behind the vast majority of sickness that ails us today.
The consequences of this?
- Cancer (cell growth)
- Skin cancer/conditions of the skin
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Digestive system disorders
- Lung disease
- Bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites
- Heart disease
- Liver damage
Can spices heal, cure, and offer relief for these health consequences? How about part of a spice, a single component? The research shows turmeric’s health benefits from Curcumin can do all of these things.
A Look at Heart Disease
Curcumin raises HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels, even as it reduces LDL (“bad”) levels. In a small study of human volunteers, researchers reported a highly significant (29%), increase in HDL among subjects who consumed one-half gram (500 mg) of Curcumin per day for seven days. Subjects also experienced a decrease in total serum cholesterol of more than 11%, and a decrease in serum lipid peroxides of 33%. Further human studies are needed, but these preliminary findings are promising.
The liver is an organ which you could call a multi-tasker as it has multiple functions.
As these functions are all crucial to good health it is imperative we protect our liver from damage. NF-kB, a molecule which creates inflammation and is responsible for killing tissues, including tissues in the liver, may be blocked by Curcumin.
A good example of this scenario comes from an animal study conducted by Finland researchers. The study looked at how administering excessive alcohol and Curcumin at the same time affected inflammation and tissue damage in the liver. Their results showed the animals were free of any of the signs and symptoms usually associated with liver damage and alcoholism.NF-kB, a molecule which creates inflammation and is responsible for killing tissues, including tissues in the liver, may be blocked by Curcumin.
These two examples, merely a small representation of turmeric’s health benefits, are about as endless as the illnesses that plague us.
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Cucumin’s bioavailability, meaning the amount of Curcumin ingested that is actually able to be absorbed and utilized by the body, is a complex issue. Curcumin is highly beneficial; however, on its own, Curcumin’s bioavailability is very limited.
There’s the old saying, “You are what you eat,” but is that really accurate? Shouldn’t the new saying be, “You are what you absorb?” Yes! No matter how well you eat or what miraculous supplement you take, if the absorption process is ineffective so are the nutrients you’re taking in. This is evident when Curcumin’s bioavailability is explored.
As beneficial as Curcumin is, inexpensive supplements contain only somewhere between 2-5% (if you’re lucky) of the desired compound. Even then, can you actually absorb it? Probably not!
Curcumin’s bioavailability or lack thereof is supported by the findings of the study Bioavailability of Curcumin: Problems and Promises, published in 2007 in Molecular Pharmaceutics. The four scientists conducting the study, Drs. Anand, Kunnumakkara, Newman, and Aggarwal, found low levels of Curcumin in plasma and tissue levels, even after high doses of Curcumin were administered. Their observations led to the conclusions that Curcumin’s bioavailability was hindered by poor absorption, rapid metabolism, and rapid systemic elimination.
Increasing Curcumin’s Bioavailability
The suggested approaches to increasing Curcumin’s bioavailability included using another agent to aid or facilitate in the absorption process, e.g., piperine or taking a Curcumin phospholipid complex.
Improvements in Curcumin’s Bioavailability
BioPipereneTM contains piperine and has been shown to increase Curcumin’s bioavailability by about 20%. One study which researched the effects of piperine on rats and human volunteers found piperine enhanced absorption and bioavailability along with increasing serum concentrations.
Meriva® combines Curcumin with soy lecithin in a patented formulationfor an overall content of 20% Curcumin. What makes Meriva® different is its classification as a phospholipid complex, the complex which facilitates an increase in Curcumin bioavailability. This compares to taking unformulated Curcumins in much higher dosages just to obtain the same results.
Even with Curcumin’s bioavailability issues, its restorative role in fighting various diseases is warranted. Due to the recent advancements made in Curcumin’s bioavailability Curcumin can now move ahead even further as a therapeutic agent in preventing and treating chronic and acute disease.
Anand, Preetha, Ajaikumar Kunnumakkara, Robert Newman, and Bharat Aggarwal. “Bioavailability of Curcumin: Problems and Promises.” Molecular Pharmaceutics. 4. no. 6 (2007): 807-818. http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/mp700113r (accessed April 23, 2012).
Kiefer, Dale. “Novel Turmeric Compound Delivers Much More Curcumin to the Blood.” Life Extension Magazine. (2007). http://www.lef.org/magazine/mag2007/oct2007_report_curcumin_01.htm (accessed April 23, 2012).
A list of Curcumin’s health-promoting benefits wouldn’t be complete without the addition of Curcumin’s anti-cancer properties. Curcumin’s anti-cancer properties are many and include its ability to mimic estrogen, interfere with cytokine signals, and perform as a powerful antioxidant capable of destroying free radicals.
A unique quality that sets apart Curcumin’s anti-cancer properties from the majority of other supplement’s anti-cancer properties is Curcumin’s ability to actually keep chemicals from entering cells. More importantly, is Curcumin’s ability to counteract the pesticides that mimic estrogen. These pesticides include DDT and dioxin, two of the deadliest toxins known to man.
Curcumin’s anti-cancer properties allow Curcumin to compete for the same cellular doorway as estrogen and estrogen-mimickers and has the power to block access to the cell, thereby protecting the cell from unwanted intruders.
Just like estrogen, estrogen-mimicking chemicals encourage the growth of breast cancer. When human breast cancer cells were studied it was discovered Curcumin reversed the cancer growth caused by 17b-estradiol, (estrogen hormone replacement) by 98%. Curcumin also blocked DDT’s stimulating effects on breast cancer by about 75%.
The combination of chlordane and endosulfane, two other estrogen mimickers, was found to promote breast cancer cell growth by nearly as much as 17b-estradiol. Curcumin’s anti-cancer properties reversed that growth by approximately 90%. Adding genistein, a soy phytochemical, reversed growth 100%!
This unique ability of Curcumin to block other chemicals has been documented. Curcumin’s anti-cancer properties were tested against carbon tetrachloride (a solvent in varnish), paraquat (weed killer), and nitrosamines (found in cooked meat and “lunch” meats). Curcumin was effective at blocking the effects of each chemical. Studies where mice were treated with diethylnitrosamine show how beneficial Curcumin’s anti-cancer properties are. These mice usually develop liver cancer; however, Curcumin brought the percentage of animals with cancer down from 100% to 38%. Tumors dropped by 81%!
Curcumin blocks NF-kB, a multiprotein complex, which evidence links to the growth of cancer cells. NF-kB is put into action by cytokines, the body’s chemical messengers. Cytokines work to enhance the immune system, but they are also responsible for turning on the signals that instruct cells to reproduce and grow, including cancer cells. Curcumin interferes with these signals and effectively stops the growth of cancer cells by kinase pathways.
Curcumin’s anti-cancer properties can be utilized for cancer prevention. Turmeric, which remember contains Curcumin, is an antioxidant and has been used for centuries as a food preservative because it does such a good job of preventing food from spoiling or oxidizing. The Curcumin in turmeric does the same thing in our bodies; protects us from cancer causing, oxidizing, free radicals. Free radicals create cancer by altering and mutating DNA and activating cancer genes.
Radiation is another source of DNA damage; damage created partially through free radicals. A recent study, conducted under laboratory conditions, demonstrated Curcumin protected bacteria from a deadly amount of radiation with almost no harm incurred. The DNA bacteria survived almost completely undamaged.
As more new developments like these emerge from studying Curcumin’s anti-cancer properties there will be renewed hope and relief for those suffering with cancer and its aftermath.
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Curcumin, the chemical compound found within the Indian spice turmeric, has been receiving popular press recently due to its health-promoting properties. Curcumin with piperine, however, is not as well publicized.
First of all, piperine is a peppery alkaloid that is condensed into the exterior skin of pepper berries, while akaloids, including piperine, are plant chemicals containing nitrogen, some of which contain powerful pharmacological properties.
Curcumin with Piperine
The benefits of Curcumin are well-known; however, the bioavailability of Curcumin when taken on its own is very limited. This means receiving the benefits Curcumin has to offer is limited too. This problem has prompted many studies on how to increase Curcumin’s absorption and utilization in the body.
In 2007 Molecular Pharmaceutics published Bioavailability of Curcumin: Problems and Promises, a study that explored these concerns. Substantial amounts of Curcumin were given to subjects resulting in insignificant amounts of Curcumin in the blood and tissues.
The conclusions of the study were helpful in understanding what limits Curcumin’s bioavailability: poor absorption, quick metabolism, and quick systemic elimination.
One of the solutions the study brought to light involved combining Curcumin with an adjuvant, an additive that aids in increasing the effect of the substance it’s joined with. One of the adjuvants recommended was piperine. Curcumin with piperine increased the absorption of and the pharmacological effects of Curcumin in the body.
Curcumin with Piperine Breast Cancer Study
A pre-clinical study, Targeting Breast Stem Cells with the Cancer Preventive Compounds Curcumin and Piperine, published in the journal of Breast Cancer Research and Treatment in 2010, gives insight into another advantage of using piperine to enhance the effects of Curcumin.
Researchers from the University of Michigan’s Comprehensive Cancer Center discovered when Curcumin with piperine was applied to breast cells in vitro, cancerous stem cells were decreased without any noticeable changes in distinctively healthy cells.
These stem cells, though minute in number are what keep cancerous tumors alive. Dr. Madhuri Kakarala, M.D., Ph.D., R.D., lead author, clinical lecturer, and research investigator concludes, “If we can limit the number of stem cells, we can limit the number of cells with potential to form tumors.”
Curcumin and Piperine’s Effect on Pancreatic Enzymes
The study, Influence of dietary spices and their active principles on pancreatic digestive enzymes in albino rats, published in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research was conducted by researchers at the Central Food Technological Research Institute and Department of Biochemistry and Nutrition in India.
Several spices or their active components were studied for how they might affect pancreatic digestive enzymes in rats. For 2 months these spices, including Curcumin (.5%) and piperine (20 mg%) were consistent in the diet of different groups of animals. Enzymes produced by the pancreas; amylase, lipase, trypsin, and chymotrypsin, trypsin’s precursor, were all activated in the doses given. This study supports Curcumin and piperine’s role in stimulating digestive enzymes.
Anand, Preetha, Ajaikumar Kunnumakkara, Robert Newman, and Bharat Aggarwal. “Bioavailability of Curcumin: Problems and Promises.” Molecular Pharmaceutics. 4. no. 6 (2007): 807-818. http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/mp700113r (accessed April 23, 2012).
Kakarala, Madhuri. “Targeting breast stem cells with the cancer preventive compounds curcumin and piperine .” Breast Cancer and Research. 122. no. 3 (2010): 777-785. http://www.springerlink.com/content/y27556643833025w/ (accessed April 24, 2012).
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Current cancer treatments in the form of chemotherapy, radiation and surgery, while effective in some cases, bring with them an onslaught of complications and unintended consequences. Curcumin as an alternative cancer treatment comes without any of the atrocities these other treatments can bring.
One of the most looked at areas in oncology drug development is in the field of developing chemical versions of kinase inhibitors. Kinases are messengers that communicate with cancer cells by transmitting messages from the outside of a cell to the inside of a cell where the DNA command center is located. Block these messages, and it’s possible to halt the growth of certain types of cancer cells.
How does Curcumin fit into this scenario? Curcumin has the ability to block some of these transmissions. Fortunately, Curcumin’s structural make-up enables it to inhibit multiple kinases. While drug companies seem intent on to trying to develop safe, patentable, synthetic versions of this structure, Curcumin is already available. Blocking kinases, however, is only one of the ways to use Curcumin as an alternative cancer treatment.
Curcumin and NSAIDs
Statistically speaking, those who take anti-inflammatory non-steroidal drugs (NSAIDs) on a regular basis have less of a probability of developing cancer. While NSAIDs may be beneficial in fighting cancer, NSAIDs come with an entire list of health complications, not the least of which is gastrointestinal bleeding. The prescription drug Celebrex is a COX-2 inhibitor, a form of NSAID, and may prevent colon cancer. Celebrex, like other NSAIDs, is accompanied by so called “normal” side effects, and in rare cases, blood clots, heart attacks, liver disease, and even death may occur.
Curcumin is a naturally occurring COX-2 inhibitor that has proven to be effective as a chemopreventive agent against cancer, especially colon cancer, with little, if any side effects.
In Vivo and In Vitro Studies
In vivo and in vitro studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of Curcumin as an alternative cancer treatment. These studies show Curcumin prevents certain types of chemically induced cancers, e.g., colon and skin cancers, from advancing. Researchers have observed Curcumin reduces the volume and size of existing tumors, as well as cutting back on the occurrence of new tumors.
National Cancer Institute
Curcumin as an alternative cancer treatment is living up to its potential to the extent that the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in its 2002 annual report revealed its plans to foster research on Curcumin’s utilization in cancer prevention and treatment.
The NCI supported the University of Michigan’s Comprehensive Cancer Center’s human trial on how the body utilizes, absorbs, and eliminates Curcumin. Additional studies on Curcumin as an alternative cancer treatment have been presented to the NCI and are pending approval.
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Myeloma is an aggregation of dysfunctional plasma cells, otherwise known as cancer. The vast majority of plasma cells exist in the bone marrow, with myeloma usually affecting the hips, spine, and skull. Multiple myeloma refers to the occurrence of the cancer at more than one site in the body. Consequences of myeloma include immune system dysfunction, primarily the overproduction of antibodies, and problems stemming from tumor formations in the body.
Myeloma is a rare form of cancer amounting to only 1% of the cancers diagnosed every year. The risk of being diagnosed with myeloma is higher for older individuals and members of the black population.
Curcumin and Myeloma in the Laboratory
Curcumin and myeloma have a unique relationship, discovered in the laboratory time and again.
In 2003 the Journal of Immunology published the findings of researchers from the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center’s study on Curcumin. Curcumin was effective in killing, decreasing or preventing the multiplication of myeloma cells. Curcumin also exhibited the ability to increase the effects of more mainstream approaches, i.e., the use of drugs.
In 2009 a study published in Molecular Cancer Therapeutics conducted by the same researchers at the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, concluded Curcumin impeded the growth of multiple myeloma cells. The cells did not respond to numerous drugs including dexamethasone, an anti-inflammatory, doxorubicin, an anthracycline antibiotic used in chemotherapy, or melphalan, a drug used to treat multiple myeloma by blocking cancer cell progression.
Researchers from Bulgaria published their findings on Curcumin and myeloma from the study Antineoplastic and anticlastogenic properties of curcumin in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences journal in January 2007. The data shows Curcumin exerts anti-tumor activity by inhibiting gene expression and eradicating cancer-causing free radicals.
Clinical Trial with Curcumin and Myeloma
An M. D. Anderson clinical trial explored Curcumin’s effects on two different pathways responsible for the growth of tumor cells and their metastasization. Two groups suffering from multiple myeloma participated in the trial with the first group taking Curcumin in isolation while the other group took Curcumin plus Bioperine, a black pepper extract. Results of the study found that Curcumin decreased the growth and spread of myeloma cells. No side effects of any consequence were experienced by the participants.
Curcumin and myeloma are a combination which will continue to be explored in the fight against different types of cancer, including myeloma and multiple myeloma.
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Turmeric may be sitting in your cupboard right now along with some of the other cancer fighting foods known as herbs and spices: cayenne pepper, ginger, cinnamon, and garlic. While these foods offer their own brand of benefits, none contain Curcumin, the antioxidant, anti-inflammatory compound found in the yellow-orange turmeric, a favorite Indian spice.
The Study on Curcumin and Cancer Fighting Foods
The National Cancer Institute, Division of Cancer Prevention, is looking at food and food-derived products to use as chemopreventive agents for major cancers: breast, prostate, colon, and lung. In the Journal of Nutrition, the article, Progress in cancer chemoprevention: development of diet-derived chemopreventive agents, explains the institute’s intent to examine more than 40 food products for treating populations at normal risk for cancer, including: Curcumin, cancer fighting foods or components of them in the form of: phenethyl isothiocyanate, green and black tea polyphenols, soy isoflavones, sulforaphane, lycopene, indole-3-carbinol, vitamin D, vitamin E, selenium, and calcium. For higher risk populations, those experiencing pre-cancers or those who have had cancer in the past, the institute is looking at extracts which contain more than one compound or classes of compounds.
Curcumin and Prostate Cancer
A study from Columbia University, Therapeutic potential of curcumin in human prostate cancer, published in Prostate, concluded Curcumin has the potential to be a therapeutic anti-cancer agent due to its ability to significantly inhibit prostate cancer growth. Furthermore, Curcumin has the potential to prevent the progression of this cancer to its hormone refractory state.
These results are powerful on their own, but what can be accomplished by combining Curcumin and cancer fighting foods?
Curcumin and the Cancer Fighting Food, Cauliflower
Turmeric was tested along with phenethyl isothiocyanate, a phytochemical found in large amounts in cruciferous vegetables including cauliflower, cabbage, kale, and broccoli.
On their own, phenethyl isothiocyanate and Curcumin significantly slowed down the growth of human prostate cancer cells implanted in mice who were immune-deficient. When mice with well-established tumors were given phenethyl isothiocyanate or curcumin alone, neither was effective; however, the combination of the two greatly reduced both the growth and the ability of the cancer cells to metastasize.
Curcumin and the Cancer fighting food, Onion
A clinical trial conducted by researchers from the Florida Cleveland Clinic and John Hopkins School of Medicine published their results in the August issue of Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology .
Patients with a genetic form of potentially cancerous polyps in the colon were given Curcumin and quercetin, an antioxidant in onions, over a time period of approximately 6 months. During this time the average number of polyps dropped by over 60 percent, with the average polyp size decreasing by over 50 percent.
The results obtained from testing Curcumin and cancer fighting foods are not uncommon. Indians from Asia have lower rates of prostate cancer than Caucasians, blacks, and Hispanics. Could this be due to a higher consumption of Curcumin and cancer fighting foods?
Maybe it’s time to replace the salt in your salt shaker with turmeric and load up your refrigerator with cancer fighting foods.
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Curcumin can tell the difference between a cancer cell and a healthy cell; Curcumin can create immune cells where they’re needed; and Curcumin can cut off cancer’s very life force. With over 200 kinds of cancer lurking out there this is good news!
Curcumin and Cancer Rates
The most recent statistics (2009) from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) tell us cancer kills over half a million people a year in the United States alone, only slightly behind heart disease as the number one killer. The Office for National Statistics tells us England and Wale’s second leading cause of death is also from cancer with 141,446 deaths in 2010.
According to the organization Cancer Council Australia, at least one in three cancer cases are avoidable and could be prevented by simply choosing a healthy lifestyle. What about the other two out of three cases or when lifestyle isn’t effective? Curcumin and cancer is an effective approach to beating the odds.
Curcumin fights cancer in a multitude of ways.
Three approaches involve:
- Activating apoptosis
- Enhancing immunity
- Stopping angiogenesis
Curcumin, Cancer and Apoptosis
Studies using cancer cells grown in vitro have exhibited Curcumin’s ability to stimulate apoptosis, or programmed cell death, among certain kinds of cancer cells including leukemia and B lymphoma cells. Apoptosis creates apoptotic bodies, otherwise known as cell fragments, which white blood cells are able to take over very rapidly and eliminate before any of the cell’s content can spill out and contaminate the surrounding cells.
Curcumin, Cancer and Immunity
When a few cancer cells are able to avoid apoptosis, Curcumin reacts to these cells by increasing and localizing the body’s immune system response. When researchers examined the lining of the intestine after taking Curcumin, certain types of immune cells were found in increased numbers. Curcumin also stimulates immunity in general. A study conducted by researchers in India found mice given Curcumin had higher levels of antibodies and increased immune action.
Curcumin, Cancer and Angiogenesis
Even when cancer progresses and becomes detectable, possibly in the form of a tumor, Curcumin can still be effective. Certain enzymes in the body allow tumors to create their own blood supply. This process is known as “angiogenesis,” and gives tumors the ability to invade and spread through surrounding tissue. Curcumin slows down the actions of these tumors, cutting them off from their blood supply, leading to their starvation and ultimately their death.
Curcumin’s role in activating apoptosis, enhancing immunity, and stopping angiogenesis are powerful and proven. With Curcumin, the incidence of cancer finally has a chance to be dramatically reduced with fewer side effects and lingering consequences.
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