Curcumin, an important ingredient in Tumeric, is a powerful anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory thought to improve joint pain, digestive issues and may have many other health benefits.
What is Curcumin?
Curcumin (a curcuminoid) is the most important bio-active compound found in Tumeric. It is what gives this spice its bright yellow color. It is found in the stems beneath the ground (rhizomes) and roots of the Curcuma Longa plant which is part of the ginger family.
The Curcumin content in Tumeric on it’s own is approximately 3%. This isn’t a high concentration for the most active ingredient, which research speculates gives it its powerful anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and anti-cancer effects.
Curcumin supplements focus on higher concentrations of this ingredient (up to 90% and higher) and most studies on the health benefits of Tumeric are believed to be done from the curcumin content or Tumeric Extract.
Traditionally, this herb has been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine for its’ potential benefits as a natural anti-inflammatory, to treat liver and digestive disorders and to improve the skin and heal wounds.
Today, Curcumin and/or Tumeric supplements are used for its indications in potentially being beneficial for general arthritic conditions, indigestion and intestinal problems, poor circulation, improving bad cholesterol LDL levels, cancer, depression, bacterial and viral infections, gallbladder and liver conditions, allergies and menstrual cramps.
Curcumin can be both water and fat soluble and does not absorb well into the bloodstream. Eating pepper with it is thought to raise it’s absorption by over 1000% and keep it’s medicinal properties in the body. It can be combined with pepper extract (piperine) or in combination with peppercorns by simply swallowing a few. Supplements may have this ingredient added.
The suggested health benefits for Tumeric and Curcumin are many and it has been widely researched. However, it is good to note, that most studies have only been done in laboratories and although promising, evidence for some of these benefits needs more research.
Benefits of Curcumin and Tumeric
Curcumin’s main benefits primarily lie in it’s powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant effects. Chronic inflammation plays a role in almost every disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, heart disease and certain degenerative conditions.
Inflammation is necessary to protect the body but when it becomes chronic it may become a larger problem. People with IBS, colitis, crohn’s disease and chronic diarrhea may benefit from Tumeric supplementation to help reduce the inflammation in the mucous membranes. Also, potentially reducing the risk of inflammations in general from becoming chronic, may help in preventing many diseases.
It is thought to lower levels of two enzymes called lipoxygenase and cyclooxygenase that can cause inflammation. It may also prevent blood clots from forming by stopping platelets from clumping together.
Also, preliminary evidence suggests that Curcumin may help reduce joint pain and swelling. This may be beneficial for people with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and tendonitis.
As a potent anti-oxidant, it can stop the oxidation of molecules that eventually produce free radicals. These can damage cells, DNA and even kill them. This cell maintenance may help slow down the aging process.
Being a powerful anti-oxidant, this golden powder is thought to support every system in the body. In traditional medicine, it is used as a healing herb, believed to fight bacteria and infections and purify the blood.
Other Uses for Curcumin and Tumeric
The uses for Curcumin are primarily associated with reducing inflammation, as an antioxidant and anti-bacterial. Research suggests that it may also have these particular benefits;
Tumeric may promote bile production which breaks down fats and prevents gastric secretions. This process is thought to help protect the stomach lining, even from the damage that medications and drugs may have caused.
It also promotes bile production in the liver which helps the body digest fats. This may be useful for people who experience bloating, gas and tiredness after meals.
If you have a weak digestive system, Curcumin or Tumeric supplementation might be something you want to consider taking.
Research on Curcumins benefits on cancer prevention and tumor growth is still being investigated. The FDA does not approve Tumeric as a treatment or prevention for cancer and it should not be used to replace any cancer therapies.
However, some studies in laboratories (not on humans) have shown some promising results. It is best to speak with your oncologist first, if you are considering taking Tumeric supplements for this use.
It is believed that incidences of cancer are low in the Indian population, where Tumeric spice is used regularly in Indian cuisine and even cosmetically however, whether Tumeric is related or not is not proven.
Side Effects of Curcumin and Tumeric
Curcumin and Tumeric supplements are considered likely safe. Always follow the recommended dosage by the manufacturer on the product label. Safety rating is based on the use of this supplement for up to 8 months.
Long-term use of this supplement or taking too high of a dose can potential cause side effects including nausea, diarrhea and upset stomach.
This supplement is not recommended for people who are/have;
- Breast feeding or pregnant women
- Heart or liver disease
- Gall bladder or kidney disease
- Diabetes type II
- Bleeding disorders
- Iron deficiencies
Also, it may interact with certain medications. It is best to consult with your doctor first if you suffer from any conditions or have pre-existing health issues before taking Tumeric or Curcumin supplements.
This supplement may have interactions with certain supplements. It is not recommended to take Curcumin or Tumeric supplements with Ginkgo Biloba, Garlic or Ginger.