Recent breakthroughs using absorbable curcumin have made health headlines lately, and for good reason. I can think of few natural ingredients that deserve the attention more than this one.
Turmeric vs. Curcumin
Before we go any further, let’s make sure we clear up any confusion about the root turmeric and its key beneficial compound, curcumin. The plant turmeric is very well known in India. The root is harvested, cleaned, dried, and powdered to be used as a spice (turmeric gives curry its beautiful golden yellow color) and as a medicine. Traditionally, turmeric was used for nearly every health condition known – from smallpox to a sprained ankle. The key to its health effects is the compound known as curcumin. Just as oranges are a source of vitamin C, turmeric is a source of curcumin. But it isn’t enough to use turmeric powder as your medicine (just like you wouldn’t eat an orange if you had a cold – you would take 500 or 1,000 mg of pure vitamin C). Today, we extract curcumin from turmeric to use as a natural medicine for cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, and many other chronic diseases.
My own Curcumin Explorations
I have visited India on numerous occasions, and have seen the fields where the turmeric is grown and harvested on the border of India and Nepal. It is believed that the soil, climate, and elevation in this part of India are ideal for growing turmeric plants with high concentrations of curcumin. The farmers here use traditional, sustainable methods (natural fertilizers and hand harvesting) to improve the quality of their turmeric crops. They are paid fair-trade wages that they are able to put back into their own communities. At the facilities where the curcumin is processed, the passionate scientists who discovered this turmeric were eager to show me how they enhanced their curcumin to be absorbed in the body at a rate 10 times based on human studies that of standard curcumin using micronization (reducing to a small particle size) and blending the powder with turmeric essential oils. This specialized extract is truly amazing and is being investigated at prestigious research centers for its ability to slow the development of Alzheimer’s disease, and prevent and treat cancer, arthritis, and other painful and debilitating diseases.
Inflammation and Chronic Diseases
There is one thing that heart disease, cancer, diabetes, arthritis, asthma, Alzheimer’s, bowel disorders, and even obesity have in common – oxidative stress caused by free radicals and inflammation. Free radicals and inflammation go hand in hand. Inflammation damages cells and tissues by creating free radicals. Free radicals damage cellular DNA and weaken our immune system. Chronic inflammation combined with a weakened immune system is extremely dangerous. Experts have estimated that free-radical damage contributes to more than one-third of all deaths and about 40 percent of total medical expenses in industrialized countries. Free radicals can negatively affect all key bodily systems, including our inflammatory response.
Curcumin Outperforms Drugs for Inflammation
The key to preventing and treating illness is to use a multifaceted approach. Rather than influencing just one pathway, as most drugs do, curcumin has 112 different molecules which simultaneously influence multiple pathways on multiple levels. During a conversation I had with one of the leading experts on curcumin, he commented that this one substance could replace at least 15 prescription drugs, without the side effects. In a recent study comparing curcumin to NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), curcumin was found to be more potent than aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, and several others. Curcumin has also been shown to counter inflammatory responses similar to the action of steroids, but without the side effects. One of the reasons curcumin is such an effective anti-inflammatory agent is because it is a potent antioxidant as well, protecting the body while fighting inflammation. This most likely also explains why curcumin is not only effective, but also does not cause side effects. Antioxidants have been proven to prevent a wide range of illnesses and help protect the body from disease.
Curcumin and Cancer
Curcumin has clearly been shown to prevent and inhibit cancer development in a number of studies. By stimulating immunity we can kill cancer cells and stop them from multiplying, reducing inflammation, and improving detoxification so we can eliminate cancer cells, curcumin has the potential to treat many different types of cancer. While common chemotherapuetic drugs cause serious side effects, curcumin produces none. Common anticancer drugs are immunosuppressive. Curcumin is an immunorestorer. Furthermore, the common anticancer drugs cannot cross the blood brain barrier. Curcumin can. Positive research results involving curcumin have been seen with breast, ovarian, pancreatic, prostate, colon, and lung cancers. In a host of studies, MD Anderson Hospital researchers have reported that curcumin has potent anticancer properties. They say it may prove effective for both prevention and treatment.
Getting Curcumin to Where the Body Needs it Most
Despite the incredible benefits of curcumin, one of the biggest challenges for using it medicinally and as a supplement has been absorption. That’s why clinical trials use increasingly those huge dosages of up to 12 grams daily. That’s just to get even a small amount into the bloodstream. Again, we’re not talking about any toxicity here, but at those high dosage levels cost, comfort and compliance can be a real problem. The majority of turmeric products on the market are regular formulas, standardized to 95% curcumin. Unfortunately, this formulation of curcumin is poorly bioavailable, so it doesn’t pass easily from the gastrointestinal tract into the bloodstream. And, much of the curcumin that does reach the bloodstream quickly converts into other compounds. None of this has gone unnoticed, and there have been many attempts to make curcumin more absorbable and have it remain in the bloodstream longer so it can be more beneficial. New research has focused on adding lecithin and/or piperine. But I’d add a word of caution: it’s important to avoid piperine in long-term treatment because it interferes with almost every prescription drug and can have terrible effects on the liver. That said, so far the most successful curcumin extract to date combines micronized (small particle size) curcumin with turmeric essential oils. This formula has up to 10 times the bioavailability and greater blood retention time than standard 95% curcumin extracts. That is why this specific bioavailable curcumin is being used in important disease research around the world.
Curcumin for Healthy Cells and Everyday Benefits
I believe that taking a strong bioavailable curcumin extract daily is the best place to start. It will reduce inflammation and help your body keep your DNA replicating properly. The formula I would look for would include 375 mg of the curcumin complex with micronized rhizome extract, phospholipids and turmeric essential oil. For a higher level of anti-inflammatory power and even more DNA-protective benefits, you can boost that bioavailable curcumin to a larger dose of 750 mg per serving. From all my research, I believe that curcumin is one of the most remarkable and wonderful healing agent that nature has to offer us. By combining this amazing herb with cutting edge science, it can reach its full potential.
|Look for this formula at your local health food store.|
|Proprietary Complex Curcumin Micronized (Curcuma longa), Rhizome Extract, phospholipids, turmeric essential oils.||750 mg|