Curcumin is the major component of Turmeric (Curcuma longa L.) and
extensive scientific research on Curcumin has demonstrated its potent
antioxidant properties. Through its antioxidant mechanisms, Curcumin
supports colon health, exerts neuroprotective activity and helps maintain a
healthy cardiovascular system.*
Turmeric (Curcuma longa), the bright yellow of the spice rainbow, is a
powerful medicine that has long been used in the Chinese and Indian systems
of medicine as an anti-inflammatory agent to treat a wide variety of
conditions, including flatulence, jaundice, menstrual difficulties, bloody
urine, hemorrhage, toothache, bruises, chest pain, and colic.
(from turmeric) Consumer Labs states: may improve blood
sugar levels, according to preliminary studies, and one study found
curcumin to dramatically lower the chances of pre-diabetes in middle-aged,
slightly overweight men and women with somewhat higher than normal blood
A Potent, Yet Safe Anti-Inflammatory
The volatile oil fraction of turmeric has been demonstrated significant
anti-inflammatory activity in a variety of experimental models. Even more
potent than its volatile oil is the yellow or orange pigment of turmeric,
which is called curcumin. Curcumin is thought to be the primary
pharmacological agent in turmeric. In numerous studies, curcumin's
anti-inflammatory effects have been shown to be comparable to the potent
drugs hydrocortisone and phenylbutazone as well as over-the-counter
anti-inflammatory agents such as Motrin. Unlike the drugs, which are
associated with significant toxic effects (ulcer formation, decreased white
blood cell count, intestinal bleeding), curcumin produces no toxicity.
An Effective Treatment for Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Curcumin may provide an inexpensive, well-tolerated, and effective
treatment for inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) such as Crohn's and
ulcerative colitis, recent research suggests. In this study, mice given an
inflammatory agent that normally induces colitis were protected when
curcumin was added to their diet five days beforehand. The mice receiving
curcumin not only lost much less weight than the control animals, but when
researchers checked their intestinal cell function, all the signs typical
of colitis-mucosal ulceration, thickening of the intestinal wall, and the
infiltration of inflammatory cells were all much reduced. While the
researchers are not yet sure exactly how curcumin achieves its protective
effects, they think its benefits are the result of not only antioxidant
activity but also inhibition of a major cellular inflammatory agent called
NF kappa-B. Relief for Rheumatoid Arthritis Clinical studies have
substantiated that curcumin also exerts very powerful antioxidant effects.
As an antioxidant, curcumin is able to neutralize free radicals, chemicals
that can travel through the body and cause great amounts of damage to
healthy cells and cell membranes. This is important in many diseases, such
as arthritis, where free radicals are responsible for the painful joint
inflammation and eventual damage to the joints. Turmeric's combination of
antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects explains why many people with
joint disease find relief when they use the herb regularly. In a recent
study of patients with rheumatoid arthritis, curcumin was compared to
phenylbutazone and produced comparable improvements in shortened duration
of morning stiffness, lengthened walking time, and reduced joint swelling.
Help for Cystic Fibrosis Sufferers
Curcumin, the major constituent of turmeric that gives the spice its yellow
color, can correct the most common expression of the genetic defect that is
responsible for cystic fibrosis, suggests an animal study published in the
April 2004 issue of Science. Cystic fibrosis, a fatal disease that attacks
the lungs with a thick mucus, causing life-threatening infections, afflicts
about 30,000 American children and young adults, who rarely survive beyond
30 years of age. The mucus also damages the pancreas, thus interfering with
the body's ability to digest and absorb nutrients.
Researchers now know that cystic fibrosis is caused by mutations in the
gene that encodes for a protein (the transmembrane conductance regulator or
CFTR). The CTFR protein is responsible for traveling to the cell's surface
and creating channels through which chloride ions can leave the cell. When
the protein is abnormally shaped because of a faulty gene, this cannot
happen, so chloride builds up in the cells, which in turn, leads to mucus
The most common mutation, which is called DeltaF508, results in the
production of a misfolded protein. When mice with this DeltaF508 defect
were given curcumin in doses that, on a weight-per-weight basis, would be
well-tolerated by humans, curcumin corrected this defect, resulting in a
DeltaF508 protein with normal appearance and function. In addition, the
Yale scientists studying curcumin have shown that it can inhibit the
release of calcium, thus allowing mutated CTFR to exit cells via the
calcium channels, which also helps stop the chloride driven build up of
mucus. Specialists in the treatment of cystic fibrosis caution, however,
that patients should not self-medicate with dietary supplements containing
curcumin until the correct doses are known and any adverse interactions
identified with the numerous prescription drugs taken by cystic fibrosis
Curcumin's antioxidant actions enable it to protect the colon cells from
free radicals that can damage cellular DNA--a significant benefit
particularly in the colon where cell turnover is quite rapid, occurring
approximately every three days. Because of their frequent replication,
mutations in the DNA of colon cells can result in the formation of
cancerous cells much more quickly. Curcumin also helps the body to destroy
mutated cancer cells, so they cannot spread through the body and cause more
harm. A primary way in which curcumin does so is by enhancing liver
function. Additionally, other suggested mechanisms by which it may protect
against cancer development include inhibiting the synthesis of a protein
thought to be instrumental in tumor formation and preventing the
development of additional blood supply necessary for cancer cell growth.
Reduce Risk of Childhood Leukemia
Research presented at a recent conference on childhood leukemia, held in
London, provides evidence that eating foods spiced with turmeric could
reduce the risk of developing childhood leukemia. The incidence of this
cancer has risen dramatically during the 20th century, mainly in children
under age five, among whom the risk has increased by more than 50% cent
since 1950 alone. Modern environmental and lifestyle factors are thought to
play a major role in this increase.
Childhood leukemia is much lower in Asia than Western countries, which may
be due to differences in diet, one of which, the frequent use of turmeric,
has been investigated in a series of studies over the last 20 years by
Prof. Moolky Nagabhushan from the Loyola University Medical Centre,
"Some of the known risk factors that contribute to the high incidence of
childhood leukemia are the interaction of many lifestyle and environmental
factors. These include prenatal or postnatal exposure to radiation,
benzene, environmental pollutants and alkylating chemotherapeutic drugs.
Our studies show that turmeric-and its coloring principle, curcumin-in the
diet mitigate the effects of some of these risk factors."
Nagabhushan has shown that the curcumin in turmeric can:
Inhibit the mutagenicity of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs)
(carcinogenic chemicals created by the burning of carbon-based fuels
including cigarette smoke) inhibit radiation-induced chromosome damage.
Prevent the formation of harmful heterocyclic amines and nitroso compounds,
which may result in the body when certain processed foods, such as
processed meat products that contain nitrosamines, are eaten irreversibly
inhibit the multiplication of leukemia cells in cell culture. Inhibits
Cancer Cell Growth and Metastases.
Epidemiological studies have linked the frequent use of turmeric to lower
rates of breast, prostate, lung and colon cancer, and earlier laboratory
experiments have shown curcumin can prevent tumors from forming. Now, new
research conducted at the University of Texas suggests that even when
breast cancer is already present, curcumin can help slow the spread of
breast cancer cells to the lungs in mice.
In this study, published in the September 2005 issue of Biochemical
Pharmacology, human breast cancer cells were injected into mice, and the
resulting tumors removed to simulate a mastectomy.
The mice were then divided into four groups. One group received no further
treatment and served as a control. A second group was given the cancer drug
paclitaxel (Taxol); the third got curcumin, and the fourth was given both
Taxol and curcumin.
After five weeks, only half the mice in the curcumin-only group and just
22% of those in the curcumin plus Taxol group had evidence of breast cancer
that had spread to the lungs.
But 75% of the mice that got Taxol alone and 95% of the control group
developed lung tumors.
How did curcumin help? "Curcumin acts against transcription factors, which
are like a master switch," says lead researcher, Bharat Aggarwal.
"Transcription factors regulate all the genes needed for tumors to form.
When we turn them off, we shut down some genes that are involved in the
growth and invasion of cancer cells."
In another laboratory study of human non-Hodgkin's lymphoma cells published
in the September 2005 issue of Biochemical Pharmacology, University of
Texas researchers showed that curcumin inhibits the activation of
NF-kappaB, a regulatory molecule that signals genes to produce a slew of
inflammatory molecules (including TNF, COX-2 and IL-6) that promote cancer
cell growth. In addition, curcumin was found to suppress cancer cell
proliferation and to induce cell cycle arrest and apoptosis (cell suicide)
in the lung cancer cells. Early phase I clinical trials at the University
of Texas are now also looking into curcumin's chemo-preventive and
therapeutic properties against multiple myeloma and pancreatic cancer, and
other research groups are investigating curcumin's ability to prevent oral
Improved Liver Function
In a recent rat study that was conducted to evaluate the effects of
turmeric on the liver's ability to detoxify xenobiotic (toxic) chemicals,
levels of two very important liver detoxification enzymes (UDP glucuronyl
transferase and glutathione-S-transferase) were significantly elevated in
rats fed turmeric as compared to controls. The researchers commented, "The
results suggest that turmeric may increase detoxification systems in
addition to its antioxidant properties...Turmeric used widely as a spice
would probably mitigate the effects of several dietary carcinogens."
Curcumin has been shown to prevent colon cancer in rodent studies. When
researchers set up a study to analyze how curcumin works, they found that
it inhibits free radical damage of fats (such as those found in cell
membranes and cholesterol), prevents the formation of the inflammatory
chemical cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), and induces the formation of a primary
liver detoxification enzyme, glutathione S-transferase (GST) enzymes. When
the rats were given curcumin for 14 days, their livers' production of GST
increased by 16%, and a marker of free radical damage called
malondialdehyde decreased by 36% when compared with controls. During this
two week period, the researchers gave the rats a cancer-causing chemical
called carbon tetrachloride. In the rats not fed curcumin, markers of free
radical damage to colon cells went up, but in the rats given turmeric, this
increase was prevented by dietary curcumin. Lastly, the researchers
compared giving turmeric in the diet versus injecting curcumin into the
rats' colons. They found injecting curcumin resulted in more curcumin in
the blood, but much less in the colon mucosa. They concluded, "The results
show that curcumin mixed with the diet achieves drug levels in the colon
and liver sufficient to explain the pharmacological activities observed and
suggest that this mode of administration may be preferable for the
chemoprevention of colon cancer."
Curcumin may be able to prevent the oxidation of cholesterol in the body.
Since oxidized cholesterol is what damages blood vessels and builds up in
the plaques that can lead to heart attack or stroke, preventing the
oxidation of new cholesterol may help to reduce the progression of
atherosclerosis and diabetic heart disease. In addition, turmeric is a good
source of vitamin B6, which is needed to keep homocysteine levels from
getting too high. Homocysteine, an intermediate product of an important
cellular process called methylation, is directly damaging to blood vessel
walls. High levels of homocysteine are considered a significant risk factor
for blood vessel damage, atherosclerotic plaque build-up, and heart
disease; while a high intake of vitamin B6 is associated with a reduced
risk of heart disease.
Protection against Alzheimer's Disease
Growing evidence suggests that turmeric may afford protection against
neurodegenerative diseases. Epidemiological studies show that in elderly
Indian populations, among whose diet turmeric is a common spice, levels of
neurological diseases such as Alzheimer's are very low. Concurrently,
experimental research conducted recently found that curcumin does appear to
slow the progression of Alzheimer's in mice. Preliminary studies in mice
also suggest that curcumin may block the progression of multiple sclerosis.
While it is still unclear how it may afford protection against this
degenerative condition, one theory is that it may interrupt the production
of IL-2, a protein that can play a key role in the destruction of myelin,
the sheath that serves to protect most nerves in the body.
A number of studies have suggested that curcumin, the biologically active
constituent in turmeric, protects against Alzheimer's disease by turning on
a gene that codes for the production of antioxidant proteins. A study
published December 2003 in the Italian Journal of Biochemistry discussed
curcumin's role in the induction of the hemeoxygenase pathway, a protective
system that, when triggered in brain tissue, causes the production of the
potent antioxidant bilirubin, which protects the brain against oxidative
(free radical) injury. Such oxidation is thought to be a major factor in
aging and to be responsible for neurodegenerative disorders including
dementias like Alzheimer's disease. Another study conducted jointly by an
Italian and U.S. team and presented at the American Physiological Society's
annual scientific conference, held April 17-21, 2004 in Washington, DC,
confirmed that curcumin strongly induces expression of the gene, called
hemeoxygenase-1 (HO-1) in astrocytes from the hippocampal region of the
Research conducted at UCLA and published in the December 2004 issue of the
Journal of Biological Chemistry has provided more insight into the
mechanisms behind curcumin's protective effects against Alzheimer's
disease. Alzheimer's disease involves the formation and accumulation of
amyloid plaques, oxidative damage and inflammation. Initially, the
researchers conducted test tube studies in which curcumin was shown to
inhibit amyloid-beta aggregation and to dissolve amyloid fibrils more
effectively than the anti-inflammatory drugs ibuprofen and naproxen. Then,
using live mice, the researchers found that curcumin crosses the
blood-brain barrier and binds to small beta-amyloid species, blocking
fibril formation, amyloid aggregation and the formation of amyloid plaques.
The study results were so promising, the UCLA team is beginning human
clinical trials to further investigate curcumin's potential as a preventive
and/or therapeutic agent for Alzheimer's disease.
Description Turmeric was traditionally called "Indian saffron" since its
deep yellow-orange color is similar to that of the prized saffron. It has
been used throughout history as a condiment, healing remedy, and textile
Turmeric comes from the root of the Curcuma longa plant and has a tough
brown skin and a deep orange flesh. This herb has a very interesting taste
and aroma. Its flavor is peppery, warm and bitter while its fragrance is
mild yet slightly reminiscent of orange and ginger, to which it is related.
LifeSource Vitamins Turmeric Extract Shown to help with Cardiovascular
Protection, Liver, Colon, Cancer, Alzheimer's, Antioxidant, Gallbladder,
Arthritis, Cystic Fibrosis, Inflammation and more.
By Sayer Ji • Originally published on Greenmed.info
There is a medicinal spice so timelessly interweaved with the origins of
human culture and metabolism, so thoroughly supported by modern scientific
inquiry, as to be unparalleled in its proven value to human health and
Indeed, turmeric turns the entire drug-based medical model on its head.
Instead of causing far more side effects than therapeutic ones, as is the
case for most patented pharmaceutical medications, turmeric possesses
hundreds of potential side benefits, having been empirically demonstrated
to positively modulate over 160 different physiological pathways in the
While no food or herb is right for everyone, and everything has the
potential for unintended, adverse side effects, turmeric is truly unique in
its exceptionally high margin of safety vis-à-vis the drugs it has been
compared with, e.g. hydrocortisone, ibuprofen, chemotherapy agents.
Furthermore, nothing within the modern-day pharmaceutical armamentarium
comes even remotely close to turmeric’s 6,000-year track record of safe use
in Ayurvedic medicine.
Despite its vast potential for alleviating human suffering, turmeric will
likely never receive the FDA stamp of approval, due to its lack of
exclusivity, patentability and therefore profitability. Truth be told, the
FDA’s “gold standard” for proving the value of a prospective medicinal
substance betrays the age old aphorism: “he who owns the gold makes the
rules,” and unless an investor is willing to risk losing the 800+ million
dollars that must be spent upfront, the FDA-required multi-phased
double-blind, randomized clinical trials will not occur. For additional
details on this rather seedy arrangement read my article on the topic: Why
The Law Forbids the Medicinal Use of Natural Substances.
At GreenMedInfo, we have reviewed over 5,000 study abstracts from the
National Library of Medicine’s bibliographic database known as MEDLINE and
have discovered over 600 potential health benefits of turmeric, and/or its
primary polyphenol, known as curcumin. These can be viewed on our turmeric
research page which is dedicated to disseminating the research on the topic
to a larger audience.
Some of the most amazing demonstrated properties include:
Destroying Multi-Drug Resistant Cancer
Destroying Cancer Stem Cells (arguably, the root of all cancer)
Protecting Against Radiation-Induced Damage
Reducing Unhealthy Levels of Inflammation
Protecting Against Heavy Metal Toxicity
Preventing and Reversing Alzheimer’s Disease-Associated Pathologies
Again, what is so amazing is not that turmeric may have value in dozens of
health conditions simultaneously, or that it may improve conditions that
are completely resistant to conventional treatment, but that there are over
six hundred additional health conditions it may also be valuable in
preventing and/or treating. Consider also the fact that turmeric grows
freely on the Earth, and you will understand why its very existence
threatens billions of dollars in pharmaceutical industry revenue.
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