Turmeric (curcuma longa) has long been known in China, Asia, India and Indonesia as one of the most powerful healing plants in nature. It is a cousin to ginger and is used in India as one of the primary curry spices. Turmeric has always been a wonder crop and used traditionally for curing diseases and conditions such as, bites, cuts, eczema, skin conditions, as an anti-inflammatory for arthritis, IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), and for dissolving gall stones and helping liver function. Until recently this powerful spice has been mostly overlooked, but now a plethora of research has proven how powerful and valuable it is as a medicine.
Studies have shown that curcumin and curcuminoids, which make up only 3%-6% of over 100 components of the plant, are powerful active ingredients and have strong anti-inflammatory effects. Inflammation is a leading cause of pain and disease in the body and is the main problem at the root of diseases, such as, heart disease, stroke, thyroid problems, migraines, and IBS. Chronic inflammation destroys healthy cells and remains in the body as a silent killer, causing diabetes, cancer, chronic lung disease and Alzheimers. As we grow older, the problem is exacerbated and we turn to synthetic drugs to alleviate the problems. Unfortunately, drugs are designed to affect only single elements or signaling pathways, whereas, turmeric can impact many of our pathways at once, which in turn affects thousands of genes which control our biochemical gene expression.
The curcumin in turmeric can inhibit the inflammation by interfering with COX2 and cytokines which trigger it and can also reduce the associated pain and swelling. Studies on curcumin have shown that it has the ability to fight and prevent cancers such as, prostate, breast, esophagus, mouth, stomach and skin cancer. It also has the ability to slow down the spread of cancer in the body by triggering cancer cell death and interfering with the blood supply to tumors.
It has recently been proven that brain cells can still multiply using Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (Borde et al 1982), which is a hormone found in the brain. Curcumin has been shown to increase the levels of this hormone and it also bonds with amyloid-B fragments in the brain and stops them forming the plaque which is considered responsible for disruption of brain function and Alzheimer’s disease. Discovered by researcher Dr. Sally A Frautschy, this led to the development of a solid lipid particle formulation of curcumin patented as Longvida and has as a recommended dose of 2-4 grams per day.
There are many turmeric and curcumin supplements on the market, making it important to understand them to be sure you are choosing the best one for your optimum health. The most well-known of these are Meriva, Longvida, BCM95 and SabinsaC3.
Curcumin is very difficult to absorb as it does not dissolve in water but it bonds to fat for absorption. It is also metabolized by the body very quickly. Very little gets absorbed into the blood stream to reach the body tissues, hence there are many companies trying to come up with solutions to increase absorption.
SabinsaC3 contains the 3 curcumin molecules I, II and III but they are not bioavailable so black pepper extract, BioPiperine has been added. Piperine can unfortunately affect how drugs and toxins are metabolized by the liver and could cause dangerous levels of these substances, stressing the liver. It also can irritate the gastrointestinal mucosa causing pain and nausea.
Theracurcumin is a new player on the market and is using nanotechnology to improve absorption with gum ghatti. This product is easily dissolved in water and can be added to drinks. However, for the size of the capsule there is only 30mg of curcumin in it, which leaves me wondering what other agents or components are in the rest of the capsule? I think I would do more research before taking this product.
Meriva is made by attaching curcumin to phospholipids in a non GMO soy lecithin. It comes in a time release form to stop the body’s quick elimination of curcumin. This form of curcumin is commonly used for inflammatory diseases and for fighting cancer, also to lower the risk of heart disease.
BCM95 is marketed for inflammatory conditions but also has a soothing effect in the GI tract. This formula contains some of the essential oils of turmeric. Tumerones are the aromatic compounds of the turmeric essential oils and occur in a much higher density than curcumin in turmeric. They are destroyed by the extraction process used for taking the curcumin out of the turmeric root, but are amongst the most potent turmeric based substances of all. Consider the work of A.Murakami in BioFactors 2012. In this study it was found that tumerones were able to “abolish tumour formation”. A Japanese study showed tumerones selectively induced the death lines and cancer DNA was decimated. These oils can also cross the blood brain barrier and activate brain stem cells.
Since the discovery of the therapeutic action of turmeric, and curcumin being one of its active components, there has been frenzy in the pharmaceutical industry to extract or synthesize this as the only presumed active ingredient. It must be remembered that spices have a wealth of therapeutic powers contained within them, and all of their components work synergistically to create a sophisticated compound which is an effective powerhouse for the reversal of disease. Isolating what appear to be active compounds only takes away from the sophistication of the complex molecular nature of each plant. Spices are powerful medicines, not only turmeric, but in addition cinnamon can control blood sugar, cloves will kill pain, oregano is a powerful antibiotic and rosemary is a more effective antidepressant than mood drugs. Consider using these elements in their wholeness and fullness, accessing the broad spectrum of active components and not one chemically treated isolate.
In my research I found enlightening information at 1stopwellbeing.com and in The Golden Root Miracle book by Dr Cass Ingram. I would suggest that you do some research before choosing which products you would use for particular health problems. I am always available to help with your quest for optimum health.
Written By: Nathalie McNeill, Fountain Head Health Food Store