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Curcumin and its Benefits

Curcumin is known for its antitumor, antioxidant, anti-amyloid and anti-inflammatory properties. For the last few decades, extensive work has been done to establish the biological activities and pharmacological actions of curcumin. Its anticancer effects stem from its ability to induce apoptosis in cancer cells without cytotoxic effects on healthy cells.

Turmeric is the key spice in curry. Curcumin has been used in both the Indian (Ayurvedic) and Chinese Medicine systems for thousands of years. Curcumin studies have shown it to possess the following properties: antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-platelet, cholesterol – lowering antibacterial and anti-fungal effects. It contains a mixture of powerful antioxidant phytonutrients known as curcuminoids.

Curcumin shares some of the same effects on the liver as silymarin and cynarin. It has demonstrated similar liver protection activity to silymarin. Curcumin is believed to also be converted to a choleretic compound, perhaps even caffeic acid. Curcumin’s documented choleretic effects support its historical use in treating liver and gallbladder disorders. Like cynara extracts, curcumin has also been shown to lower cholesterol levels.

Curcumin is not soluble in water, and animal tests have found very little of it in the bloodstream after it is eaten. Therefore, it would seem that this chemical could not work as an oral drug. But other researchers have reported much higher absorption — as much as 60 percent or more. And in laboratory studies curcumin is often given to animals in the diet, and various effects are noted.

Antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic properties of turmeric and curcumin are undergoing intense research. Tests in Germany, reported July 2003, found that “All fractions of the turmeric extract preparation exhibited pronounced antioxidant activity….” Turmeric extract tested more potent than garlic, devil’s claw, and salmon oil.

One of the things that sets curcumin apart from most other anti-cancer supplements (I3C being an exception), is that this phenolic can actually block chemicals from getting inside cells. Importantly, curcumin can interfere with pesticides that mimic estrogen. These include DDT and dioxin, two extremely toxic chemicals that contaminate America’s water and food. (Dioxin is so toxic that a few ounces of it could wipe out the entire population of New York City). Curcumin has the unique ability to fit through a cellular doorway known as the aryl hydrocarbon receptor. This is a feat it shares with estrogen and estrogen-mimicking chemicals. Because it can compete for the same doorway, curcumin has the power to block access to the cell and protect against estrogen mimickers.

Turmeric is a well-known spice, used widely in cookery. Its pigment, curcumin, is oil soluble and tends to fade in light, but has good heat stability. It gives a lemon yellow shade in food systems. Its applications include pickles, soups and confectionery.


Curcumin has long been prized in traditional Chinese and Indian medicine as a natural remedy for a variety of ailments. In modern research laboratories, curcumin’s ability to scavenge free radicals and suppress inflammatory cytokines has impressed scientists who are seeking ways to prevent and treat Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders.

Several studies have reported that Curcumin is beneficial in lowering LDL and raising HDL or good cholesterol while reducing the lipid per oxidation

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV, the AIDS virus) appears to respond somewhat to Curcumin treatment. Curcumin interferes with the replication cycle of HIV.

Curcumin’s potential apparently stems from its ability to suppress the proliferation of a wide variety of tumor cells and to inhibit harmful molecules and enzymes, as well as its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Some studies have even suggested that curcumin can inhibit cancer metastasis.

Recently, substances called cyclo-oxygenase inhibitors have won praise as powerful miracle aspirins for blocking inflammation; especially inflammation caused by arthritis and gout, and may be of help in inflammatory ailments of the hand and wrist such as carpal tunnel syndrome. Turmeric, like its cousin ginger, contains some natural cyclo-oxygenase inhibitors. Some studies compare it to Ibuprofen.

Animal studies provide evidence that turmeric can protect the liver from a number of damaging substances such as carbon tetrachloride and acetominophen (popularly known as paracetamol and used commonly for headache and pain, this can cause liver damage if taken in large quantities or in someone who drinks alcohol regularly.) Turmeric accomplishes this, in part, by helping to clear such toxins from the body and by protecting the liver from damage.

In Europe, dyspepsia is commonly attributed to inadequate bile flow from the gallbladder. While this has not been proven, turmeric does appear to stimulate the gallbladder.

On the basis of even weaker evidence, curcumin or turmeric have also been recommended for preventing cataracts, and treating high cholesterol, multiple sclerosis, fungal infections, Alzheimer’s disease, and chronic anterior uveitis (an inflammation of the iris of the eye

Daily requirement

For medicinal purposes, turmeric is frequently taken in a form standardized to curcumin content, at a dose that provides 400 to 600 mg of curcumin 3 times daily.