What is Curcumin
In Ayurveda, which is an ancient Indian medical practice the name of which means “long life,” turmeric is described as a powerful anti-inflammatory. How does it do it? Over the last 50 years, research has shown that the spice’s anti-inflammatory properties comes from curcumin, which is found in the spice. Curcumin has been found to slow or stop enzymes that cause inflammation, like cyclooxygenase-2 and 5-lipooxygenase. It works through several other mechanisms as well. Studies have shown that curcumin can modulate over 700 different genes.
Turmeric has antioxidants that can prevent free radical damage to cells. The antioxidant properties in turmeric come from curcuminoids. The antioxidants it delivers can be stronger than vitamin C, and up to eight times more powerful than vitamin E. It is three times as powerful as pine bark extract or grape seeds, and it is strong enough to fight the hydroxyl radical, which many think of as the most reactive oxidant.
The curcuminoids found in turmeric support the functions of healthy blood and liver, healthy joints, and a person’s well-being overall. If these functions are supported, radiant and supple skin will come.
Curcumin is able to cure and hold at bay several different illnesses. People in India have used turmeric in Ayurvedic medicine and their home remedies for hundreds of years. You might want to know, “What does Curcumin do?” The supplement can relieve pain and detoxify. It benefits the heart, stomach, liver, and skin. It has been shown useful to battle a variety of illnesses like cancer, heart problems, arthritis, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Turmeric’s active phytochemical is curcumin. This gives turmeric its bright color and is the source of its healing abilities.
Curcumin’s disease fighting potential has been studied and demonstrated against several types of cancer, diseases of the vascular system, type II diabetes, atopic dermatitis, arthritis, psoriasis, and Crohn’s disease, among others.
Turmeric has an antioxidant activity and can prevent blood flow to cancer cells. It has been helpful in fighting breast, prostate, colon, and skin cancers.
In India, turmeric has been used for centuries to treat stomach problems. People find it soothing for heartburn, nausea, and peptic ulcers.
The spice has naturally occuring antiseptic properties. It can be used to help cuts, burns, and scrapes heal.
Turmeric helps stimulate bile production, which prevents gallstone formation. It is also a proven detoxifier.
This spice can act as an excellent anti-inflammatory. It has been known to ease pain associated with arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Amyloid plaque in the brain aggravates Alzheimer’s disease. Turmeric can help remove it from the brain. This can prevent Alzheimer’s Disease or slow its progression.
Many studies have been conducted on the various examples of curcumin. These are supplements that have incredible pharmaceutical benefits. A lot of these studies suggest curcumin may be useful for the prevention and treatment of numerous diseases.
A great example is curcumin’s use in oncology, in Weill Medical College and in New York Presbyterian Hospital. It is reported that curcumin, which is a curcuminoid originating in turmeric, directly repressed the COX-2 enzyme according to Zhang et al. 1999. Many different oncologists are very excited about curcumin being such a potent anti-inflammatory substance. It is classified as a prospective third generation chemo-preventive agent for cancer.
Curcumin is illustrative of its defense against cancer, is its capability of inhibiting chemically stimulate carcinogenesis in the colon, while being administered at various stages of cancer progression. When laboratory rats were given curcumin at an initial stage or delayed and given in the premalignant phase, the rats had a smaller occurrence and less statistics of all-encompassing malignant tumors of the colon. (Kawamori et al. 1999). Also, as a result of inhibiting the acid interactions of COX-2-arachidonic, curcumin curbs prostaglandins which are to blame for inflammatory progressions. (Plummer et al. 1999). Continual inflammation has been considered as a reason for having colon cancer, for many years. (Konig et al. 1976).
Examples of curcumin healing in antioxidant action are the slowing down, or reversing of the oxidative damage. It does this by searching for and counteracting the free radicals. By resolving the superoxide and hydroxyl radicals and the infringement on the oxidative chain, it causes these reactions. Curcumin shields DNA with superior efficiency over Vitamin E, beta-carotene or lipoic acid (Ruby et al. 1995; Li et al. 2001; Ahsan et al. 1999).
More examples deal with breast cancer. Curcumin inhibits the increase of various cell lines of breast cancer (Inano et al. 1999), mainly those that are a consequence of environmental exposure to chemical and pesticide estrogens (Verma et al. 1998). In addition, estrogen, curcumin, and estrogen impersonators get entry into the cells by way of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor. Since curcumin contends for entry, it can assist in crowding out the harmful materials (Ciolino et al. 1998).
At concentrations as small as 3.5 mcg/mL, curcumin provoked apoptotic cell death in promyelocytic leukemia HL-60 cells (Kuo et al. 1996).
Studies have shown examples of curcumin helping with prostate cancer. Curcumin has the ability to diminish the proliferative prospect of androgen-independent cancer cells in the prostate, plus cells of additional androgen-dependent cancers. This is done mainly by the encouragement of apoptosis. Furthermore, a considerable decline in microvessel density, which is the supporting blood supply of tumors, was observed (Dorai et al. 2001).
History of Curcumin
Curcumin is a traditional Chinese medicine that is used to treat diseases that are associated with abdominal pain. Furthermore, it was original an ancient Hindu medicine that was used to treat swelling and sprains.
This medicine was first used thousands of years ago by the people of China and India. In fact, there are several stories that suggest that curcumin was used as far as 10,000 years ago.
For instance, there are stories that claim the ancient Polynesians carried turmeric and curcumin with them on their voyages across the Pacific Ocean to the island of Hawaii. Today, Hawaiians still make use of this medicine, which they call Olena.
While he was in China, Marco Polo recorded information of turmeric in 1280 AD. This is what he wrote in his journal:
“There is a vegetable which contains all the properties of true saffron. It also has the color and smell, yet it is not actually saffron.”
Turmeric has been used as a saffron (a spice) substitute in China as far back as 1280 AD. In addition, it has been used as a substitute in Europe for around 700 years.
Curcumin (a curcuminoid) is one of the major healthful ingredients in the turmeric spice. It is said that curcumin gives turmeric its unique yellow color.
In 1815, scientist first isolated the curcumin molecule. In 1870, scientist obtained the curcumin crystalline form. In 1910, scientist determined curcumin’s overall structure.
Turmeric is a spice that grows in tropical regions of Asia such as India. It has been used as a herbal remedy for numerous years, particularly in Indonesia, India, and China. In India, turmeric is considered to be highly auspicious and it has been used extensively in various ceremonies for numerous years. Even today the spice is used in many ceremonies from religious ceremonies to wedding ceremonies.
In medieval Europe, the turmeric spice became widely known as Indian saffron. Turmeric was often used as an alternative to the far more costly saffron spice.
Nizamabad, an Indian city, is the world’s most important trading center and largest producer of turmeric. Thus, Nizamabad is often referred to as the “Turmeric City”.
Friedrich Ratzel reported in 1896 in The History of Mankind that the preparation of the turmeric powder has a highly ceremonial character, especially in Micronesia. For example, the roots of the turmeric are grounded by four to six women in special buildings. The day after the roots are grounded, three old soma nuts and three young coconuts are offered with a prayer by a priestess. After the ceremonial prayer, the dye is then wrapped in banana leaves, baked into cakes, or hung up for later use.
Curcumin and turmeric have a unique relationship as Curcumin can only be found within turmeric, probably the most beloved spice of India. Turmeric is used in the preparation of a variety of dishes with the goal of adding color and flavor, especially to curry, a foundation of Indian cuisine.
For thousands of years, turmeric had a large part to play in Ayurvedic medicine, ranging from reducing inflammation attributed to arthritis to an entire host of maladies. Today, Curcumin, and turmeric are being studied for their potential in combatting disease, primarily due to Curumin’s biological activity. Curcumin, a phytochemical and effective antioxidant belongs to a class of chemical compounds known as curcuminoids. In addition to being the primary curcuminoid in turmeric, Curcumin is a natural polyphenol, a chemical which provides many health benefits.
Curcumin and Turmeric’s Remarkable Abilities
Curcumin and turmeric’s ability to convey a sense of well-being, while at the same time coming between the body and the processes leading to disease are exactly why scientists are continuing to investigate and explore this medicinally beneficial plant compound. The tropical rootstock known as Curcuma longa, from which Curcumin and turmeric originate is the source of all these new found advantages.
- Curcumin tested in clinical trials using human subjects exhibited anti-cancer activity and in contrast to using dangerous chemotherapy drugs was tolerated and considered safe.
- Afflictions of the gastrointestinal tract, whether cancer or digestive concerns, show great promise with the use of Curcumin as the compound tends to gather in the tissues of the digestive tract.
- Curcumin and turmeric were found in other clinical studies to decrease inflammatory responses in the body, inhibit the growth of cancer-causing proteins; kill cancer cells while preserving non-cancerous cells, assist in the production of glutathione, an antioxidant, eradicate free radicals, and slow the progression of colon and pancreatic cancer in some patients.
- In laboratory studies, Curcumin and turmeric showed potential for: halting the accumulation of/and getting rid of the proteins related to Alzheimer’s disease and treating Parkinson’s disease and stroke.
Further research is underway to investigate the possibility of using Curcumin and turmeric in the treatment of multifarious conditions.
Supplementation may bring mild distress in the form of GI discomfort for a few individuals. This can be avoided by taking the supplement with meals. For individuals taking anti-coagulant or anti-platelet drugs, bleeding is a concern.
Wood, Rebecca Theurer. The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia: A Comprehensive Resource for Healthy Eating. New York, NY: Penguin/Arkana, 1999. Print.
Mansour, Professor Awad. The 50 Miracle Cures of Curcumin. Chicago Ridge: Health Tech Book Series, 2010. Web. 27 Apr. 2012.
Curcumin and curcuminoids are very closely related as Curcumin is the primary curcuminoid, or chemical compound found in the cherished Indian spice known as turmeric. Turmeric contains two other curcuminoids: desmethoxycurcumin and bis-desmethoxycurcumin. There has been an increasing demand for the use of Curcumin and curcuminoids due to their biological activity. Fortunately, curcuminoids increase the ability of curcumin to dissolve, making it readily available for use in a supplemental form.
The Benefits of Curcumin and Curcuminoids
Taking Curcumin in the proper formula in adequate amounts supplementally can be beneficial in treating a multitude of ailments, including cancer and heart disease. Curcumin’s potent antioxidant properties inhibit and eliminate free radicals, halt the mutations in DNA related to cancer formation, and block the enzymes cancer needs to progress. Curcumin is protective in preventing heart disease and strokes by inhibiting the build-up of plaque in the arteries, including the arteries that provide the brain with essential oxygen and nutrients.
Recent studies are encouraging with benefits in the areas of:
Alzheimer’s Disease • Arthritis • Kidney-Disease • Thinning the Blood• Liver Disease • Inflammation • Viruses
Turmeric, Curcumin and Curcuminoids
The qualities and characteristics that belong to Curcumin and curcuminoids originate with turmeric, which has been used for thousands of years by the women of India externally as well as internally. Externally, turmeric is used to give them beautiful, blemish-free, ageless skin.
The paste made from turmeric can also be utilized as a poultice. Preparing the poultice is as simple as adding a little hot water to the turmeric and applying the paste to a gauze dressing. The turmeric poultice can be helpful for healing fractures, bruises, and reducing inflammation.
Whether used to prevent or treat diseases already present in the body or facilitate healing from the outside, Curcumin and curcuminoids can play a substantial role in healthcare.
Jayaprakasha GK, Rao LJ, Sakariah KK (2006). “Antioxidant activities of curcumin, demethoxycurcumin and bisdemethoxycurcumin”. Food Chemistry 98 (4): 720–4.
Balch, CNC, Phyllis A. Prescription for Herbal Healing. New York, NY: Avery, 2002.
Curcumin is the principal curcuminoid of the popular Indian spice turmeric, which is a member of the ginger family (Zingiberaceae). Turmeric’s other two curcuminoids are desmethoxycurcumin and bis-desmethoxycurcumin. The curcuminoids are natural phenols, and are responsible for the yellow color of turmeric. Curcumin can exist in several tautomeric forms, including a 1,3-diketo form and two equivalent enol forms. The enol form is more energetically stable in the solid phase and in solution.
Curcumin can be used for boron quantification in the curcumin method. It reacts with boric acid forming a red colored compound, known as rosocyanine.
Curcumin is brightly yellow colored and may be used as a food coloring. As a food additive, its E number is E100.
Curcumin incorporates several functional groups. The aromatic ring systems, which are polyphenols are connected by two α,β-unsaturated carbonyl groups. The diketones form stable enols or are easily deprotonated and form enolates, while the α,β-unsaturated carbonyl is a good Michael acceptor and undergoes nucleophilic addition. The structure was first identified in 1910 by J. Miłobędzka, Stanisław Kostanecki and Wiktor Lampe.
Curcumin is used as an indicator for boron in EPA Method 212.3.
Potential Medical Uses
Although many preclinical studies suggest curcumin may be useful for the prevention and treatment of several diseases, the effectiveness of curcumin has not yet been demonstrated in randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind clinical trials.
A daily dose of 2 grams of Curcuma domestica extract was found to provide pain relief that was equivalent to ibuprofen for the relief of pain associated with osteoarthritis of the knee. An extensive survey of the literature shows a number of other potential uses and that daily doses over a 3 month period of up to 12 grams proved safe. Commercial capsules of curcumin contain piperine, a compound found in pepper which aids absorption of curcumin into the blood stream. However, as curcuma is known to inhibit blood clotting, it should be avoided for a two week period prior to major surgery and not used in conjunction with blood thinners such as warfarin and Plavix. It is also known to aggravate gallstone problems.
In Phase I clinical trials, dietary curcumin was shown to exhibit poor bioavailability (i.e., low levels in plasma and tissues). Potential factors that limit the bioavailability of curcumin include poor absorption, rapid metabolism, and rapid systemic elimination. Numerous approaches to increasing curcumin bioavailability have been explored including the use of adjuvants like piperine, which interfere with glucuronidation; liposomal curcumin; nanoparticles; curcumin phospholipid complexes; and structural analogues of curcumin (e.g., EF-24).
The bioavailability of curcumin ingested in foods may be increased as a result of cooking or dissolution in oil.
Curcumin and Curcuma longa are both part of a healthy lifestyle. Most of us are probably unfamiliar with Curcumin as it is the unseen component hiding within turmeric, one of the favorite spices used in Indian and Thai cooking for many centuries. Think curry! Other places Curcumin can be found is in that bottle of prepared yellow mustard in the refrigerator, Indonesian food, Carribean cooking, and food coloring.
How are Curcumin and Curcuma longa related? Curcumin stems as an extract from the dried rootstock of Curcuma longa, a plant whose root is prized for its medicinal properties. The Curcuma longa, a perennial native to India can be found all over Southern and Eastern Asia. Curcumin and Curcuma longa are members of the ginger family and at maturity the plant can stand 3 feet tall.
Curcumin and Curcumin Longa’s Benefits
An all-around beneficial spice, Curcumin facilitates a feeling of general well-being as the primary biologically active part of Turmeric. Curcumin, in addition to being a powerful phytochemical and antioxidant, offers turmeric its eye pleasing orange-yellow tint, and is part of a group of compounds known as curcuminoids. A natural polyphenol, curcumin is responsible for a multitude of health-promoting properties.
Pharmacology recognizes Curcumin for its abilities to fight:
Curcumin is also a carminative anti-allergen as well as a diuretic.
Curcumin has been used traditionally to provide for those suffering from pain and inflammation in the form of:
Skin Disorders • Gastrointestinal Disorders • Allergies • Gallbladder Problems • Edema • Auto-immune Disorders • Liver Disease • Burns • Chicken Pox • Tumors • Metabolic Disease • Cataracts and other Eye Disorders.
Due to their multitude of uses in the health care field, hundreds of articles on turmeric and Curcumin have been referenced in published peer- reviewed professional journals, making them a legitimate force to be reckoned with in securing health.
There are no reported side effects from taking high doses of Curcumin. A very infrequent episode of stomach distress or diarrhea may occur; decrease the dosage for a short time and take with food.