|Advanced Health & Life Extension||
Turmeric (Curcuma longa), a member of the giner family, is a traditional Indian curry spice. It is also used as a yellow food coloring and has been used in traditional medicine in India and Ancient Egypt for at least 6000 years. In approximately the past 50 years, it has been subjected to numerous trials and studies and its use has been validated and clarified by modern science.
Curcumin, Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis
Research indicates that curcumin, the active ingredient of turmeric, may help to reduce and/or prevent ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. Researchers found that mice pretreated with curcumin experienced a clear reduction in intestinal inflammation when exposed to an irritant as compared to controls. The researchers also noted a reduction in DNA binding and inhibition of NF-kappa B activation. (1)
Curcumin and Cystic Fibrosis
Yale University researchers have discovered that curcumin may correct a cellular malformation that causes cystic fibrosis. In experiments with mice, curcumin corrected the cystic fibrosis defect and significantly increased the survival of the mice. Clinical trials in humans are under way. (2)
Curcumin and Cancer
Researchers have demonstrated that curcumin inhibited the growth and promoted cell death in three different melanoma cell lines. Curcumin appears to work by suppressing the production of the proteins in the cancer cells that normally protect the cells from cell death. All doses tested decreased cancer cell growth and triggered cell death. Higher doses were more effective, and the higher the dose used, the more cancer cells died. (3)
Curcumin triggered the death of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma in a recent study published in Clinical Cancer Research. This research indicated that the addition of curcumin to cultures of squamous cell carcinoma resulted in a dose-dependent growth inhibition of three cell lines. Researchers also conducted in vivo studies with squamous cell tumors in mice. Topical application of curcumin also inhibited the growth of the cancer cells.
In addition, the researchers conducted in vivo studies by implanting squamous cell tumors in mice. Curcumin was applied as a noninvasive topical paste to the tumors and inhibition of tumor growth was observed. (4)
Additional research at the University of Texas demonstrated that curcumin can stop the spread of multiple myeloma, a cancer of the bone marrow. Curcumin stopped the activation of processes known to lead to the spread of myeloma cells and triggered apoptosis. Apoptosis is a process where cancer cells program themselves to die. (5)
Curcumin can stop the growth of human pancreatic cancer cells, according to a study in the journal Cancer. Researchers found that curcumin inhibited the production of interlukin-8, a protein produced by white blood cells that contributes to tumor growth. (6)
Curcumin and Prion Related (Mad Cow) Diseases
A recent study shows that curcumin can inhibit the accumulation of prions in vitro. Prions are proteins that are responsible for bovine spongiform encephalopathy, the scientific term for mad cow disease and Creutzfeld-Jakob disease, as its called in humans. In this study, curcumin potently inhibited the accumulation of a type of prion called protease-resistant prion protein. Prions must convert from their original state to this protease-resistant state in order to cause disease. (7)
Curcumin and Alzheimer's
Scientists recently discovered that curcumin reduces the amyloid protein plaques associated with Alzheimers disease. In a recent study involving animal brains injected with amyloid, curcumin reduced the accumulation of amyloid deposits and reduced the loss of proteins in the spaces between brain cells. By reducing the loss of protein in synapses, curcumin may also help maintain memory. Curcumin also appears to act as an anti-inflammatory agent with respect to Alzheimers related inflammation in neurologic tissue. India has the lowest rate of Alzheimers in the world, probably correlated with the consumption of curry which contains turmeric, the source of curcumin.
Anti-inflammatory Effects of Curcumin
Curcumin inhibits enzymes which participate in the synthesis of inflammatory substances in the body. The natural anti-inflammatory activity of curcumin is comparable in strength to steroidal drugs, and some nonsteroidal drugs and does not have the same have dangerous side effects. (9, 10, 11) Inflammation results from a complex series of actions and/or reactions triggered by the body's immunological response to tissue damage. The processes of healing and infection fighting produce a moderate level of inflammation. Chronic inflammation leads to degenerative conditions like arthritis, arteriosclerosis, etc. Several clinical studies have compared the effects of curcumin at dosages of 400 mg. per day to 1200 mg. per day to the drug phenylbutazone. Curcumin was as effective as phenylbutazone in treating post operative inflammation and arthritis. (9, 10, 11, 12)
Curcumin prevents the synthesis of several inflammatory prostaglandins and leukotrienes. Curcumin's anti-inflammatory properties may be attributed to its ability to inhibit pro-inflammatory arachidonic acid, as well as neutrophil function during inflammatory states. (11, 12)
Curcumin as an Antioxidant
Free radicals can originate from environmental chemicals, tissue injury, infections and auto-immune processes. Antioxidants protect the body from damage from free radicals. Water- and fat-soluble extracts of turmeric and its curcumin component exhibit strong antioxidant activity, comparable to vitamins C and E. One study showed curcumin to be eight times more powerful that vitamin E in preventing lipid peroxidation. Taken in group arrangements such as C-complex, curcuminoids are three times as potent in neutralizing free-radical molecules.(13) Several studies have demonstrated curcumin's ability to reduce oxidative stress. (13, 14, 15, 16) It appears that curcumin's role as an antioxidant may be due in part to its ability to down regulate nitric oxide formation. Nitric oxide is a key element in inflammation and may contribute to carcinogenesis.
Cardiovascular Effects of Curcumin
Curcumin lowers cholesterol and triglyceride levels, decreases susceptibility of low density lipoprotein (LDL) to lipid peroxidation, and inhibiting platelet aggregation. These effects have been noted even with low doses of turmeric. (23, 24)
Curcumin's Antimicrobial Effects
Several animal studies have deomonstrated that Turmeric extract and curcumin inhibits the growth of a variety of bacteria, parasites and pathogenic fungi. Turmeric reduced the lesions caused by intestinal parasites, dermatophytes, pathogenic fungi, yeast plasmodium falciparum and leishmania organisms. Topical applications of curcumin extract was also effective. (20, 21, 22)
Hepatoprotective Effects of Curcumin
Turmeric and curcumin has been found to have a hepatoprotective characteristic similar to that of silymarin. Several studies have shown curcumin's hepatoprotective effects in protecting animal livers from a variety of hepatotoxic insults induced by chemicals and drugs. Turmeric and curcumin were also been found to reverse biliary hyperplasia, fatty liver and liver necrosis induced by aflatoxin production. (17, 18, 19)
Curcumin Side Effects
Reported side effects are uncommon and are generally limited to mild stomach distress. There is some evidence to suggest that turmeric extracts can be toxic to the liver when taken in high doses or for a prolonged period of time. For this reason, individuals with liver disease, heavy drinkers, and those taking hepatotoxic medications should have liver enzyme tests and be under the care of their physician if they also wish to take turmeric products.
Curcumin was found to be pharmacologically safe in human clinical trials with doses up to 10 g/day. A phase 1 human trial with 25 subjects using up to 8000 mg of Curcumin per day for 3 months found no toxicity from Curcumin. Five other human trials using 1125-2500 mg of Curcumin per day have also been found it to be safe.
There is a possibility of allergic contact dermatitis from turmeric.
Curcumin Drug Interactions
Turmeric may increase the risk of bleeding or potentiate the effects of warfarin or other blood thinning therapies.
Curcumin Dosage Information
There is no minimum daily requirement for Curcumin. Dosages for optimum benefit have not been determined. Common recommendations are 400 to 600 mg of Curcumin 3 times daily.
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