Health Benefits of Curcumin

Yellow Powder

Curcumin is believed to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and perhaps even anticancer properties.  It is one of the main ingredients of turmeric powder, which is harvested from the turmeric plant by grinding up its root.  According to the US National Library of Medicine, research of curcumin over the past half-century has shown promising effects in patients with various pro-inflammatory diseases including cancer, cardiovascular disease, arthritis, ulcerative proctitis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel disease, peptic ulcer, gastric ulcer, gastric inflammation, psoriasis, and lupus to name just a few.

In both Ayurveda (traditional medicine of India) and Chinese medicine curcumin has become a major component in holistic medicine.  Traditional medicine is also proving its value with laboratory studies.  The UK Cancer Research Center reported that several studies have been conducted to look into treating cancer with curcumin.  They too had promising results.

“One of these in 2013 was an international laboratory study on bowel cancer cells. It looked at the effects of combined treatment with curcumin and chemotherapy. The researchers concluded that the combined treatment might be better than chemotherapy alone.” (UK Cancer Research Center)

Further clinical trials in humans is needed to determine how well it is effective in treating cancers.

Additional studies indicate the anti-inflammatory and other benefits of using curcumin:

  • Arthritis: The Arthritis Foundation highlights patients reporting:
    • Reduced pain
    • Reduction in inflammation and stiffness with RA and OA
    • Useful in treating bursitis pain
  • Boosts Immunity: Researchers from Oregon State University discovered that curcumin increased a protein known as CAMP, “which can help combat bacteria, viruses and fungi that have not been previously encountered by the immune system. CAMP is the only known antimicrobial peptide of its kind in humans, and is able to destroy a wide range of bacteria, including that which causes tuberculosis.” (Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, Oct. 2012) In addition, curcumin can support your immune system with a boost of antioxidants. Your body produces some antioxidants on its own, you can also get them from some foods and vitamins. Curcumin, as an antioxidant dietary supplement, can help you fight infection and viruses and further build immunity.
  • Aids in the Digestive Processes: Curcumin supports digestion by relaxing the intestinal walls, pushing food through the system, promotes and balances friendly gut bacteria growth, boosts secretion of stomach mucous, which defends gastric damage, and in boosting stomach bile, increases cholesterol elimination. Stomach pain that can come as a result of spicy food or alcohol can also be relieved by the anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin.
  • Treating Psoriasis: An observational study done by the Journal of Cosmetics, Dermatological Sciences and Applications found that curcumin when combined with traditional treatments may help in relieving psoriasis. In addition, The European Journal of Dermatology conducted a small study on the effects of light therapy in combination with oral curcumin. Their outcomes indicated that this combination may be safer than traditional treatments for people with moderate to severe plaque psoriasis.
  • May Help Treat aspects of Diabetes 1 and 2: Beijing University in collaboration with McGill University, reviewed the use of curcumin in multiple studies conducted globally on mice and rats.  In many of the studies, curcumin reduced blood sugar and cholesterol levels.  The same treatments that were used in these studies have not yet been conducted with the human body.  However, in another smaller study, Thailand provided treatments to 240 prediabetic people using curcumin.  The study reported approximately 16% of the 116 people receiving a placebo going on to develop Type 2 diabetes within a nine-month period.  Individuals from the same study who received 250 milligrams daily of “curcuminoids” from supplements did not go on to develop Type 2.

Curcumin is receiving worldwide attention due to its multiple health benefits, which appear to act primarily through its anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory mechanisms. According to the National Institute of Health, over 15,000 manuscripts have been published on the benefits of curcumin, with approximately 50 being added each week. Further studies are being conducted on the benefits of curcumin for reducing the speed of Alzheimer’s disease, improving heart and circulatory system function, and more.

This powerful spice assists in pain relief, supports the immune system, can aid in digestion, and more as research continues and reports.  As always, it’s important to talk with your doctor when adding supplements to treat any health condition you may have.

Due to curcumin’s poor absorption into the body, it is recommended that the spice be combined with a substance it can attach to or blend with.  Some of the dietary supplements are mixed with black pepper or bromelain, an extract derived from pineapples.

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by Colleen Morgan