What is Curcumin?Photo by: Hari Prasad Nadig/ CC BY
Curcumin is a compound of turmeric. An active compound, curcumin is a polyphenol which gives this popular Indian spice a glowing yellow shade. Apart from being a dietary supplement, it is also a food colorant. Turmeric has descended from the Curcuma longa plant, which belongs to the same family as the ginger. From the rhizomes of the plant, turmeric is extracted from the stem that remains below the ground.
Historical Uses of Curcumin
Curcumin ( and turmeric) was traditionally used as a medicine in Ayurveda since 1900 BCE. Growing wild in South Asia and the Himalayas, it was used topically and internally for curing numerous conditions. It is held to be anti-inflammatory and a powerful antioxidant.
Benefits of Curcumin
Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor
Curcumin boosts neurotrophic factor linked to enhanced brain function and this lowers chances of brain diseases. These neurons are known for forming fresh connections due to this factor. The neurons can multiple and rise in numbers. BDNF is the Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor. It is a growth hormone that functions within the brain. Curcumin increases BDNF brain levels and reduces brain disorders that have been linked to lowered levels of this hormone. It delays or even reverses brain diseases.
Lower Risk of Heart Disease
Curcumin also lowers the chance of developing cardiovascular diseases. Heart disease process can be reversed due to this compound, which has improved the function of the endothelium, blood vessel lining. The malfunctioning of the endothelial lining is the major and crucial factor to influence heart disease. Regulate blood pressure, clotting and other important factors using this compound. Another factor is that antioxidant and anti-inflammatory curcumin has benefits for warding off heart diseases. It is a potent substance that lowers the likelihood of experiencing heart attacks.
Prevents and Eliminates Cancer
Cancer is an autoimmune disorder which is linked to uncontrolled cell growth dysfunction. Many different forms of cancer appear to be warded off by curcumin supplements. It prevents cancer growth and development as well as spread. Studies have shown that metastasis and angiogenesis are reduced by this as well. Contributing to the death of cancer cells, it also prevents the growth of tumor in various studies. Cancers of the digestive system such as colon cancer are also averted due to curcumin ingestion. Curcumin also aids the chemotherapy process.
Treats Alzheimer's Disease
Alzheimer's disease is a neurodegeneration of the brain. Curcumin is a bioactive substance that can cross the blood-brain barrier. Building up of protein tangles, Amyloid plaques are associated with Alzheimer's disease. This bioactive compound clears these plaques.
Arthritis is a common problem and inflammation to the joints are a consequence of this. Curcumin is a potent anti-inflammatory substance. This is a common disorder with joint inflammation and curcumin plays an important role in curing the disorder.
Wards off Depression
Treating depression is facilitated using curcumin. Curcumin was found in studies to be similar to Prozac. Depression has been associated with brain-derived neurotrophic factor and a withering of the hippocampus. The latter is the brain area associated with memory and learning. This turmeric substance boosts the generation of the hormone and neurotransmitter dopamine and serotonin.
Anti-aging supplementation involves the use of curcumin. Oxidation and inflammation play a role in aging and because this compound is a potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, it works to tap the fountain of youth.
For lowering blood glucose levels and reversing insulin resistance, turmeric can work wonders. Studies have found that curcumin in turmeric is four hundred times more potent than Metformin. This activates insulin sensitivity to reverse Type 2 diabetes. Insulin resistance and hyperglycemia can also be treated through this compound.
Human Digestive System Influenced by Curcumin
People with digestive issues can avoid the side effects of medication by opting for curcumin. A strong anti-inflammatory compound, curcumin is perfect for dealing with inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.
Fighting Oxidative Stress
It also helps to fend off oxidative stress which damages the inner part of the blood vessels. Anti-cholesterol drugs such as statin work equally well, but they lead to numerous side effects. Apart from this, it addresses oxidative stress which is causing the high blood sugar and inflammatory condition.
The ability to manage pain is one of the biggest healing properties of curcumin. This substance found in turmeric activates the opioid system and serves as a natural analgesic and pain reliever. Rather than opting for dangerous opioids and NSAIDs, severe burns can be treated using curcumin, according to the US Army Institute for Surgical Research. Use of this compound-rich plant is becoming popular because it is a natural painkilling agent as against conventional medicines. Curcumin also helps in treating chronic inflammation as a result of which it is an effective pain blocking agent.
Allergies and asthma have been on the increase and this compound can help by reducing the release of histamine from mast cells. The inflammation and bronchospasmodic fit experienced by asthma patients can also be undone through the use of curcumin.
Kills Bacterial Infections
National Centre for Biodefence and Infectious Diseases is studying the impact of this compound on different types of viruses. Curcumin is thought to have antibacterial and antiviral properties and research studies have pointed to this direction.
Fends off Fatigue
Fatigue can be the result of lifestyle problems or underlying medical problems such as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or fibromyalgia. Curcumin supplements can lower fatigue, more so among the elderly.
Curcumin has also been found to be effective in the treatment for Parkison's disease which is associated with protein clumping. It prevents further intensification of symptoms.
Curcumin has also been found to be effective in treating a genetic condition called cystic fibrosis. Some research has found the curcumin prevents abnormal protein folds that cause pain in this medical condition. Further linkages between this disorder and a cure using this compound are being explored.
Curcumin protects against inflammation, cardiac hypertrophy, inflammation as well as thrombosis. How does it work out to protect cardiac tissue? Specifically, it inhibits a protein called P-300 which is a histone acetyltransferase and its movement downstream. This inhibition prevents heart failure in animal studies.
Plasma levels of sICAM involved in arteriosclerosis pathology are slightly but somewhat reduced with curcumin of around 80 mg in its bioavailable form every day for 4 weeks in healthy, middle-aged subjects.
Curcumin prevents endothelial or blood vessel issues linked with high levels of blood sugar in a dose-dependent way. It offers protection from side effects linked with diabetes. In animal studies, curcumin also preserves endothelial health during the progress of the disease in most cases. This protective impact has to mean shown in the case of LPS insult, a pro-inflammatory disease and curcumin doses of 50 to 100 mg per kg body weight. Protective effects on blood vessels are another benefit of curcumin.
Improved Blood Flow
Supplementation of curcumin of around 150 mg is linked with increased blood flow. In fact, studies of flow-mediated vasodilators over eight weeks shows the potency is equivalent to physical exercise thrice a week. Oral ingestion of curcumin is able to undo endothelial reactivity and concentration of nitric oxide leading to levels of youthful control. Oral intake of 200 mg per kg of curcumin results in protection from specific types of hypertension. Another study of human subjects saw curcumin reduced blood pressure in individuals with nephritis. In women after menopause, women are given 150 mg curcumin every day for 8 weeks were associated with systolic blood pressure decrease.
Around 500 mg of curcumin per day has been shown to lower triglycerides by as much as 47 percent. Another study using 80 mg of the lipidated form for 4 weeks in healthy, middle-aged individuals reduced triglycerides.
Cutting Down on Cholesterol
Around 500 mg of curcumin, each day reduces total cholesterol levels by 17 percent while a higher dosage of 6000 mg lowers total cholesterol by 5 percent. Around 150mg of bioavailable enhanced curcumin in otherwise healthy women post menopause reduced total cholesterol over 8 weeks.
Glucose Metabolic Rates
Inhibition of glucose intake is another benefit of curcumin. The effect of curcumin to lower blood sugar levels was seen in 1972. One of the ways blood glucose levels are lowered is through the stimulation of AMPK in skeletal muscles, pulling in glucose. This effect is further enhanced with insulin reducing effects. Curcumin also lowers AMPK in cancer and liver cells.
Additionally, curcumin alleviates downstream swelling reactions occurring at the time of diabetic and metabolic syndromes. Through its anti-inflammation impact, insulin resistance improves. Curcumin supplements appear to preserve pancreatic function and offer both insulin sensitivity and adiponectin in relation to control. Curcumin also prevents diabetes.
Warding Off Obesity
Curcumin attenuates lipolysis induced by catecholamines essential for suppression of AMPK in liver cells. Fatty acid synthase is also inhibited by curcumin and there are slow as well as rapidly acting components impacted. Curcumin is a potent activator of AMPK. Specifically, curcumin wards off obesity. Inflammation plays a role in obesity. Excessive inflammation in adipose cells is correlated with obesity and metabolic syndromes. A fall in immune cell infiltration in adipose cells has been noted when mice were given up to 3 percent curcumin in the diet for four weeks.
Curcumin is also linked with increased FOX01 transcription activities and this is associated with adiponectin transcription.
Protection of Skeletal Muscles
Through its antioxidant impact, curcumin ameliorates oxidative damage to skeletal muscles through processes with a potency greater than vitamin E. Curcumin increases in inflammatory cytokines linked with reperfusion and ischemic injuries. Curcumin increases a protein expression which regulates calcium homeostasis for reducing the state of oxidation. Curcumin protects against lead damage too.
Additionally, curcumin is implicated in raising the recovery of skeletal muscle capacity linked with reloading. It also induces skeletal muscle catabolism downstream. Skeletal muscles, through glucose uptake as well as oxidation, is a tissue regulator of blood sugar metabolism.
Fatty acids like palmitic acid activate negative feedback to the insulin receptor and curcumin inhibits this. This is an effect also seen when green tea extract is taken. Curcumin also increases glucose uptake into skeletal muscles by acting on acetylcholine receptors. Curcumin is linked with type II diabetes elimination.
One of the most well-studied impacts of inflammation is inhibiting TNF-a induced activation that influences genetic code to generate inflammatory cytokines. Curcumin also exerts an oppressive impact on macrophage migration. Therefore, it reduces inflammation through various methods. It essentially prevents pro-inflammatory signals from working on the nucleus. This reduces the capacity of the immune cells to get inflammation sites and reduce present inflammation through the reduction of certain enzymes.
Arthritis and Joint Inflammation
Curcumin is linked with a lot of inflammatory signals. A lot of these are linked with inflammatory joints and arthritis. When equally dosed, curcuminoids from turmeric exert more impact than active ginger components in inflammation suppression associated with cytokine release in arthritis. Both herbs offer greater levels of potency. Orally administered curcumin reduces knee osteoarthritis and works as well as herbs like Boswellia serrata.
A study found curcumin suppressed the replication of the virus. It specifically reduced Rift Valley fever virus.
Regulating Hormonal Levels
Curcumin is excellent for preserving testosterone levels despite consumption of alcohol. It prevents ethanol oxidation to acetylaldehyde. Curcumin also inhibits enzymes that convert testosterone into androgen DHT. Curcumin also lowers catalytic activities of aromatase.
Curcumin protects the DNA from oxidation through heavy metal arsenic. This protection was seen in human trials after oral ingestion of curcumin solutions. Blood lymphocytes were further biomarkers for damage to the DNA. Curcumin prevents the formation of adducts in hepatic DNA. Curcumin also exerts chemoprotective impact of curcumin. This protein influences genetic coding and transcribing when activated. Curcumin inhibits the interaction between molecules without lowering TNF, and increased levels of TNF can result in cell death. A second molecular target for curcumins is a type of protein involved in cell growth regulation and survival.
For inhibiting expression of cytokines, curcumin appears to regulate several factors that led to metastasis of the tumor. Curcumin arrests bladder cell growth at concentrations of 10 to 25 uM and inducing apoptosis.
Natural and Potent Anti-inflammatory Compound
While short-term inflammation is critical for fighting foreign invaders and repairing damage, chronic or long-term inflammation can damage the own tissues of the human body. Chronic, low-level inflammation is known as the root cause of many conditions such as heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer's, metabolic syndrome and varying neurodegenerative diseases. Curcumin is a potent anti-inflammatory which targets various steps in the inflammatory pathway at a molecular stage.
Blocking molecule NF-kB that reaches the nuclei of the cells and turns on genes pertaining to inflammation, curcumin prevents diseases. NF-kB is a critical molecule that is associated with chronic diseases. This bioactive substance fends off inflammation at the level of the molecule. It also inhibits molecules that play a key role in inflammation. It also prevents the expression of the inflammatory gene product. An enzyme called COX-2 associated with inflammation is also downregulated by curcumin. It also inhibits another pro-inflammatory enzyme called 5-LOX and prevents the expression of inflammation linked cell surface molecular offering adhesion. A pro-inflammatory cytokine TNF is also prevented from generation by this compound. A cytokine is a cell which signals protein molecular structures.
It also inhibits another pro-inflammatory enzyme called 5-LOX and prevents the expression of inflammation linked cell surface molecular offering adhesion. A pro-inflammatory cytokine TNF is also prevented from generation by the turmeric compound. A cytokine is a cell which signals protein molecular structures.
Oxidation causes damage associated with several diseases. Free radicals result in oxidative damage. What is a free radical? It is a highly reactive molecule with electrons that are not paired. Free radicals interact with fatty acids, DNA or protein. Curcumin is a powerful antioxidant that is beneficial because it prevents the body from generating free radicals. It is a compound that neutralizes the chemical structure of the free radicals. Antioxidant enzymes are also produced by it.
Conditions It Cures
- Digestive Problems
- Ulcerative Colitis
- Stomach Ulcers
- Heart Disease
- Bacterial and viral diseases
Research has shown that curcumin helps to promote healthy brain functions, reduce inflammation and free radical stress thereby promoting good heart health and providing relief from painful joints.
If you are being treated by any of the blood thinners or drugs that reduce stomach acid, curcumin is not recommended.
Using turmeric in cooking is likely to be safe. But large doses of this compound can cause stomach pain, nausea, indigestion. It can also cause ulceration due to increasing the stomach acid.
Gall Bladder and Kidney
Curcumin stimulates the gallbladder to produce excessive bile to improve digestion. But this means people with gallstones or other such conditions that block the passage of bile can suffer from ingestion of this polyphenol-rich substance. According to the American Cancer Society, people with gallbladder conditions should not take curcumin without consulting the doctor. The risk of kidney stones will rise if the turmeric is over ingested as well. A study found that participants who took higher turmeric content had more urinary oxalate levels binding with calcium and forming kidney stones.
According to some medical experts, curcumin can stimulate the uterus, encouraging the uterine lining to break apart increasing the chances of miscarriage. Pregnant women should, therefore, consult their doctors before taking it.
Signs of possible side effects due to curcumin ingestion include:
- A headache
- Stomach Ulcers
- Stomach pain
Factors Influencing Side Effects
- Dosage(high versus low)
- Terms of administration
- Co-administered drugs and supplements
Check with your doctor, if the therapeutic benefit of curcumin ingestion is outweighed by the side effects. From bloating to indigestion, it can cause a lot of problems if taken in excess or with the wrong medication. If you want to take the compound for its capacity to heal health problems, be sure you can tolerate it. If you are experiencing mild side effects and continued benefits, supplementation may be beneficial.
Opt for discontinuation if low or divided doses do not work. In the end, analysis what matters is that you should be benefiting this bioactive, polyphenol-rich compound,
Curcumin is beneficial in a number of ways. It is a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory bioactive compound in turmeric which has been used for warding off cancer, healing wounds, pain management, improvement of cardiovascular and digestive health and many other benefits. Tap these advantages and use it for a healthy and vibrant life.