Curcumin

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Curcumin is the active ingredient found in the culinary spice known as Turmeric. It is classified as a phytochemical due to its antioxidant properties and is used medicinally. The part of the plant which is used for medicinal purposes is known as the rhizome (underground stem). There is no established Recommended Daily Amount (RDA) for Curcumin.

What are the benefits of Curcumin?

Curcumin has been shown to prevent the formation of, and neutralize existing free radical damage, attributed to its antioxidant properties. It is also reported to have a wide range of other beneficial properties, including anti-inflammatory, chemopreventive and chemotherapeutic activity.

Evidence

Research supports the premise that curcumin exhibits great potential as a therapeutic agent for a variety of conditions, including certain types of cancers, psoriasis and Alzheimer’s disease (1).

Cancer- There is a substantial amount of evidence to support the use of curcumin in cancer prevention. Curcumin inhibits precancerous changes within DNA and interferes with mechanisms which are involved in the progression of cancer (2) (3), modulating the growth of tumour cells through regulation of multiple cell signalling pathways (4). In a study of chronic smokers, those who took curcumin excreted significantly lower levels of mutagenic substances in their urine compared to those who didn’t which demonstrates the cancer-inhibiting properties of curcumin (2). Clinical trials have also shown that curcumin is well tolerated and may produce antitumor effects in people with precancerous lesions or who are at high risk for developing cancer (5). 

Cholesterol- Early research has revealed that curcumin may also provide a benefit for lowering both Total and LDL cholesterol by stopping the oxidation of cholesterol and therefore protecting against the build- up of plaque in the arteries (2). A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials further concluded that turmeric and curcumin may protect patients at risk of CVD through improving serum lipid levels (6).

Our take on how Curcumin supplements may help you;

Reducing the risk of heart disease– Curcumin may help to reduce clumping of the platelets, which may help to prevent Atherosclerosis and lessen the risk of heart disease

Reducing inflammation– Curcumin may be beneficial in relieving the pain and stiffness of arthritic and rheumatoid conditions, such as osteoarthritis, as the inflammation associated with these ailments can increase  the level of pain individual may experience. It may also prove useful to individuals with skin conditions such as eczema, acne and psoriasis.

Carminative– Curcumin may have a carminative action (a substance that prevents or relieves gas in the gastrointestinal tract), which may be useful to those who suffer from excessive flatulence and IBS.

Supports and detoxifies the liver– Curcumin may have beneficial effects on liver-related diseases such as toxic liver damage, inflammatory liver disease and cirrhosis, as well as proving useful for those who have over -indulged in alcohol.

Safety and side effects

Turmeric (curcumin) is considered to be safe when taken by mouth for up to 8 months. It is not associated with any significant side effects however it can cause digestive upset including nausea, diarrhoea and dizziness. Turmeric or curcumin may have an anticoagulant effect and therefore should be used with precaution alongside blood thinning medications such as warfarin and aspirin. It is also contraindicated for use by those with gallbladder problems. There is no established Tolerable Upper Intake Level for Turmeric or Curcumin.

References

  1. Hatcher H, Planalp R, Cho J, Torti FM, Torti SV: Curcumin: from ancient medicine to current clinical trials.Cell Mol Life Sci. 2008 Jun;65(11):1631-52. doi: 10.1007/s00018-008-7452-4. Review. PMID: 18324353
  2. Balch, P 2010, Prescription for Nutritional Healing Penguin Group, New York
  3. Mindell. E, 2005 New Vitamin Bible; Souvenir Press Limited, London
  4. Ravindran J, Prasad S, Aggarwal BB: Curcumin and cancer cells: how many ways can curry kill tumour cells selectively? AAPS J. 2009 Sep;11(3):495-510. doi: 10.1208/s12248-009-9128-x. Epub 2009 Jul 10. Review. PMID: 19590964
  5. López-Lázaro M Anticancer and carcinogenic properties of curcumin: considerations for its clinical development as a cancer chemopreventive and chemotherapeutic agent: Mol Nutr Food Res. 2008 Jun;52 Suppl 1:S103-27. doi: 10.1002/mnfr.200700238. Review
  6. Qin S, Huang L, Gong J, Shen S, Huang J, Ren H, Hu H: Efficacy and safety of turmeric and curcumin in lowering blood lipid levels in patients with cardiovascular risk factors: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials; Nutr J. 2017 Oct 11;16(1):68. doi: 10.1186/s12937-017-0293-y. Review. PMID: 29020971