We've talked a lot on this blog recently about how Americans spend billions of dollars on dietary supplements that -- according to the studies -- do not deliver the promised benefits and, in many cases, even cause harm. Persuaded by my own research, I stopped taking a multivitamin and several other supplements, determined to rely on a good diet instead.
But the curcumin research gave me cause for thought, since I'm currently dealing with Parkinson's, prostate cancer, and an arthritic back... not to mention my huge fear of Alzheimer's. My internal debate -- to take or not to take curcumin / piperine -- was described in another post. I started taking the supplement on April 6.
My Experiment with Curcumin
Not sure how to select ONE curcumin product from the many available, I experimented with a 1000mg pill, dissolving it in my morning cup of coffee (and staining the cup that distinctive turmeric yellow!). Then, as I reported last week, I came across an excellent interview with a leading researcher who recommended a specific variety of curcumin: "BCM-95." That same expert also described a promising study on the use of curcumin to treat rheumatoid arthritis, during which participants took 500mg pills twice a day.
I decided to order a 400mg version of the BCM-95 curcumin. I take one pill with each meal, because that plan is easy for me to remember. I've been following that regimen for about two weeks.
So what's the verdict?
First, Two Caveats
Before I report on my experiment with curcumin, two important cautions:
- My experience is MY experience. Others may have completely different experiences. Too often these days, a slick YouTube video touting the magic powers of a new supplement can drive thousands of desperate sufferers to the nearest health food store to pick up their supply. Sadly, their hopes are dashed when the promised results do not materialize. Something similar happened to me: when I discovered that 5-HTP lifted my own depression better than the prescribed Elavil, I became an avid spokesman for the supplement. Several friends tried it after hearing my recommendations, but none of them experienced results like mine. It was a big lesson for me; every person is a different, unique bundle of chemistry.
- During the two months I've been taking curcumin, I've also been experimenting with acupuncture and Reike. I've also increased my time with mindfulness meditation, focusing on my back pain. I've "muddied the waters" with factors other than curcumin, making it more difficult to attribute any therapeutic power to it alone. When you're eager for results, especially relief from pain -- and almost 83 years old -- you don't spend a lot of time thinking about scientific method!
Studies show that curcumin has potential to treat Parkinson's and cancer -- both of which I have -- but those reports didn't persuade me to try curcumin. My major impediment to quality of life today isn't Parkinson's or cancer. It's the lower back pain that has plagued me since the car crash last August and is constant when standing or walking. That pain was first attributed to the fractured vertebrae I had as a result of the crash. The vertebrae healed, but the pain remained. Doctors diagnosed arthritis as the cause.
In the past, pain was often worst when I had to stand more than a few minutes. Last Saturday during the cocktail hour before dinner at the wedding reception for my Nepali housemates, I stood for at least an hour. I wasn't exactly comfortable by the end of that hour, but -- just a week or two earlier -- standing that long would have been unthinkable for me.