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Curcumin is Curry's Secret Agent That Can Fight Painful Inflammation

Posted Feb 04 2010 12:00am

Curcumin is a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory that has the potential to provide far-reaching health benefits. It has been shown to be helpful in rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, pancreatitis, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, diabetic retinopathy, and cancer. All of these diseases share underlying inflammation that curcumin may help to diminish.

If you have ever eaten curry or cooked with the spice turmeric, you’ve consumed curcumin. It is obtained from the roots of Curcuma longa and consists of several curcuminoids. Turmeric is biologically related to ginger. Curcumin works as an antioxidant, boosting levels of glutathione S-transferase, which is one of the body’s principal antioxidants. This antioxidant blocks the formation of prostaglandin E2, which is a compound that promotes inflammation within the body. Curcumin also inhibits two inflammation-promoting enzymes: COX-2 and 5-LOX. Additionally, curcumin is able to prevent mutations to DNA, which is an effect that helps to maintain younger, healthier cells.

A study conducted at the University of Arizona Health Sciences Center in Tucson had researchers using a curcumin rich turmeric extract to treat rheumatoid arthritis in laboratory animals. The extract blocked joint inflammation as well as the breakdown of joint cartilage and bone. It did this by inhibiting the genes that are involved in inflammation. Curcumin also holds tremendous promise in preventing cancer, as well as an adjunct treatment. Studies on animals have found that curcumin can protect against colon, intestinal, oral, and skin cancers. Its benefits come from several mechanisms. First of all, it blocks the cell-growth cycle in cancer cells, which eventually leads to destruction. It also reduces free radicals and inflammation, both of which can lead to cancer-causing cell mutations.

Many studies have found that curcumin can protect the liver against a variety of toxic compounds, which is important news for those people who are suffering from liver diseases like hepatitis
or cirrhosis. In a recent study, researchers reported that curcumin increased the clearance of creatinine and urea, which are signs of improved kidney function. Additionally, curcumin reduced liver damage from toxic chemicals and excess iron.

Another study found that curcumin has the ability to inhibit the activation and spread of the liver cells that play a role in the development of cirrhosis. Japanese doctors have recently used curcumin, drugs, or placebos to treat 89 patients that have ulcerative colitis. These doctors found that a combination of curcumin and conventional medications resulted in the greatest benefits over six months of treatment. Patients in this study took 1,000 mg of curcumin after breakfast and again after dinner.

Inflammation is the underpinning of all chronic degenerative diseases, making curcumin likely to be beneficial for many different conditions. So far, research has identified curcumin’s benefits for diabetic retinopathy, lung disorders, and skin problems such as psoriasis. A dose of 3.6 g of curcumin reduced PGE2 levels by two-thirds in only one hour. After consuming curcumin daily for one month, PGE2 levels were 57 percent lower than before supplementation began.

Turmeric has been used as a culinary spice for at least 2,000 years. It was listed in an Assyrian herbal in 600 BC, used by ancient Greeks, and widely recommended in Ayurvedic medicine. Native to India and other regions of South Asia, it may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and help maintain mental function. Curcumin is safe in amounts of 500 to 8,000 mg daily, with most supplements providing 500 mg of curcumin.

Turmeric has been proven safe in larger amounts, but is usually limited by taste as a spice. One should look for a standardized supplement that contains at least 90 percent curcumin. Standardized Turmeric can be found at your local or internet health food store.

*Statements contained herein have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Curcumin from turmeric is not intended to diagnose, treat and cure or prevent disease. Always consult with your professional health care provider before changing any medication or adding Vitamins to medications.

More information on turmeric extract is available at VitaNet ®, LLC Health Food Store. http://vitanetonline.com/

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