Thursday, June 30, 2011

Curcumin or Turmeric

Frequently asked questions about Curcumin or Turmeric

What is curcumin?
Curcumin is a component of a spice from India, Bali and the surrounding islands called  Turmeric. It is estimated that 100 grams of  Turmeric contains 3-5 grams of Curcumin. Curcumin gives a yellow color to Turmeric. Turmeric is also present in the commercial pre-prepared curry powder in the spice rack of the local grocery stores. Chemically, Curcumin is called diferuloylmethane. Curcumin is yellow-orange in color. Curcumin is used as a natural yellow coloring in mustard, cereals, cheese and butter. In some countries, it is used as a natural coloring agent in the textile industry. Curcumin, after boiling and processing turns into a red color which is used for cultural purposes in India, for example the red dot used on a forehead to stimulate the third eye. Additionally, culturally it is used for the yellow color in patterns of powder and stones to decorate entrances.

What is the difference between cooking curcumin used and medicinal curcumin?
Curcumin used for medicinal purposes is the powder pounded from the raw Turmeric root. It is more grainy, has a heavier texture and has a milder yellow color. The Curcumin used as a spice and used for cooking is powder pounded from the Turmeric root after it is boiled and cooled. It has a finer consistency, is more fragrant and a stronger yellow color. Cooking Curcumin is available in grocery stores and is used more for cooking. Its medicinal value, though present, is not as strong as the Turmeric from pounded raw root as described above.

When was curcumin isolated?
Curcumin was isolated from the spice Turmeric as one of the active principle, more than a hundred years ago.

What does curcumin do?
The activity of curcumin has been demonstrated to be effective against cancer, cardiovascular diseases, type 11 diabetes, Crohn's disease, psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, arthritis and in strengthening cartilage and bones. It has ' heating' properties in Ayurveda.

How does curcumin work?
Turmeric or Curcumin  has been described as an agent that can suppress inflammation. An extensive research over the last 50 years has revealed that the anti-inflammatory activity of Turmeric is due to Curcumin. Curcumin can inhibit both the activity and the synthesis of cyclooxygenase-2 and 5-lipooxygenase; and other enzymes that give rise to inflammation. Curcumin has also been shown to work through numerous other mechanisms. More than 700 genes have been shown to be modulated by curcumin.

How to take medicinal curcumin:
Medicinal Curcumin can be taken by drinking it in warm milk, using about 1/2 teaspoon in a cup of  warm milk. It can also be applied topically. It can be taken in capsule forms.

There are reports to indicate that Curcumin taken on an empty stomach is more effective than with the meals. Thus it is recommended that you take Curcumin 1 hour before meals. If you are taking Curcumin powder ( instead of capsule ), you can take it with milk, yogurt, coconut milk or other fluids.

Does curcumin work against cancer?
Curcumin has been shown to prevent a large of number of cancers in animal studies. Laboratory data indicates that Curcumin can inhibit tumor initiation, promotion, invasion, angiogenesis and metastasis.

Epidemiological evidence indicate that the natural incidence of certain cancers are less in people who consume Curcumin than those who do not. Recent evidence indicates that, besides chemo preventive activity, Curcumin may also be effective in the actual treatment of cancer.

How does Curcumin work again cancer?
Numerous mechanisms have been identified for the anti-cancer activity of Curcumin. Inhibition of proliferation of tumor cells, induction of apoptosis ( a mode o cell death), inhibition of transformation of cells from normal to tumor, invasion of metastasis and suppression of inflammation, have been linked with the anti-cancer activity of curcumin. Downregulation o COX2, 5-LOX, adhesion molecules, inflammatory cytokines, chemokines, growth factor receptors, VEGF, and transcription factors by curcumin have been linked to its anti-tumor activity.

Does Curcumin work against arthritis?
Arthritis is a proinflammatory disease. All current drugs approved for arthritis have anti-inflammatory activity. Anti-TNF therapy has been approved for this disease. Curcumin has been shown to both suppress the TNF prodution as well as block the action of TNF. Curcumin, when applied topically, has been shown to have activity against arthritis.

Doe Curcumin work against Crohn's disease ( inflammatory bowl disease)?
Crohn's disease is also a pro-inflammatory disease. All current drugs approved for this disease have anti-inflammatory activity. Anti-TNF therapy ahs been approved for this disease. Curcumin has been shown to both suppress the TNF production and the TNF action. Curcumin, taken orally, has been shown to have activity against Crohn's disease.

Does Curcumin accelerate wound-healing?
There is numerous experimental data that suggest that Curcumin can accelerate wound healing. This has lead to the Johnson & Johnson's Curcumin-containing band-aid.

Does Curcumin work against Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is another proinflammatory disease. Numerous evidence, both in animal and human, indicate that Curcumin is quite effective against Psoriasis when applied topically to the skin.

Does Curcumin work against Alzheimer diseases?
Because Alzheimer disease is caused in part by amyloid-induced inflammation, Curcumin has been shown to be effective against Alzheimer. Clinical trials at UCLA are doing further investigations on the use of Curcumin for Alzheimer.

Are there any human clinical trails done with Curcumin?
There have been at least ten different clinical trials performed with Curcumin in patients with different diseases. There are mostly pilot studies that are " proof of concept" type studies. More trials are still in progress in the United States and other countries.

Has there been any toxicity associated with curcumin?
According to one of the Phase 1 study, Curcumin was found to be safe in human subjects even when consumed up to 8 grams per day for three months. Despite this study, it is recommended to take low dose 500 mg/day gradually increasing to higher dose if needed. As always, observe signs of both potential toxicity and improvement by observing your responses and progress. Keep informing your doctor of your observations.

Recommendations for Cancer:  If you have cancer, Curcumin can be taken according to this following regimen:
1 g/day for week one; if no side effects then,
2 g/day for week two; if no side effects then,
4 g/day for week three; if no side effects then ( can be split into three separate doses)
8 g/day for week four; for eight weeks ( can be split into three separate doses)

By then, significant improvement is expected.

If you do not have cancer then one capsule ( 500 mg) per day is sufficient.

Where do I buy curcumin?
Although there are numerous companies that supply curcumin, one needs to be careful that you are buying genuine product. Specially, product that is free of  GMO or fertilizer chemicals.

Certified medical curcumin as well as cooking curcumin is available at:
The Institute for Cultural and Healing Traditions, Ltd.
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  1. I have taking Curcumin as my daily health supplements for over 3 months now and I have been very satisfied with the improvements of my health

  2. Cory. Turmeric is an amazing plant.
    The only place we can get it in town now it's at Greatest Grains where they get the Frontier Foods products. Frontier Foods is in Normal Iowa. They specialize in organic produce as you might already know.

    We are sold out of Turmeric at this time.

    Please consider taking the raw powder straight as well as eating the raw root. It's about $ 1 or 2 a pound. If you can get to Whole Foods they carry the root. Greatest Grains has not yet got the root, although we have requested them and they may have it soon.

    Personally, I always take the natural over the capsule. With natural root and the powder you can be certain of what you are taking. As long as its grown in a reputable garden or farm.

    You can take the powder easily three times a day. Either with hot milk poured over a helping teaspoon of Turmeric or scalding hot water poured over it. The root: you can eat raw as a carrot. Or use as a garnish.

    It has great long term benefits. That is why it's certain cultures its a daily routine, and not subject to an illness or physical discomfort. It becomes, then, a preventative fortifying ingredient in daily dietary intake.

    A side advantage is that it keeps the skin soft and smooth with a glow. Women, and men too, from those cultures that value Turmeric and know of it's benefits have used Turmeric as an occasional body pack. Sometimes even weekly. That ways the body absorbs Turmeric through the skin.
    That would not be possible with capsules, of course.

    We will get our Turmeric available again when our shipment comes in. The plant takes 3 years to ripen for harvest. So the plants have to be rotated. The source we use was out … We have to wait for a little longer.

    Please watch for our post here when it's in.

    Thanks very much for your post.