I've written recent posts about my own research on curcumin as a potential for treatment for Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, MS, cancer, diabetes, arthritis -- you name it; curcumin might treat it. I've been experimenting with it myself (and will share my reactions). So, it's reassuring to have well-qualified, respected medical authorities also touting curcumin's potential. It's especially helpful to get advice on what specific form of curcumin is most effective.
Wellness Times publisher Karolyn A. Gazella interviews Ajay Goel, PhD. He’s director of epigenetics and cancer prevention at the Gastrointestinal Cancer Research Lab at Baylor Univeristy Medical Center in Dallas. His experience and bona fides are impressive (see link below).
For more than 15 years, Goel has studied the power of curcumin in preventing and fighting cancer, especially gastrointestinal cancers. He’s been intrigued that the rate of colon cancer in the United States is thirty times higher than in his native India. Diet plays a major role in this type of cancer, and one key dietary difference is the heavy use of turmeric – from which curcumin is derived – in South Asia.
Goel explains that pharmacology can’t really boast any great success in preventing or fighting cancer over the past four decades. So far, drugs kill not only tumors, but healthy cells, too. They typically target single molecules or genes, whereas curcumin targets multiple pathways or genes to suppress cancerous growth. Curcumin reduces inflammation and oxidative stress: conditions that abet the development of tumors.
According to Goel, curcumin is the only botanical whose clear efficacy has been demonstrated by science. Almost 5,000 peer-reviewed studies now exist to support the beneficial effects of the compound. Goel has been personally involved with more than 100 of them. Turmeric is the only spice whose study has entered mainstream, clinical trials, over 40 of which have been made on humans only. He says that 80 new clinical trials involving humans are underway. He is convinced that this botanical has “passed muster,” moving well beyond in-vitro and animal studies, showing in all cases some very real level of efficacy.
Goel is especially excited about a recent study of curcumin’s potential for treating rheumatoid arthritis (RA), the first clinical trial involving humans. The positive outcome didn’t surprise him, since he understands curcumin’s anti-inflammatory powers.
In this study, RA patients were separated into three groups:
- The first received 500 milligrams of curcumin twice a day for three months,
- The second received diclofenac sodium, a common non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID),
- The third received curcumin and the NSAID in combination.
Dr. Goel seemed most excited about the particular TYPE of curcumin used in this study: a variety referred to as BCM-95. It’s all natural – since no harsh chemicals are used in the process of extracting the compound from turmeric – and it includes the “full spectrum” of beneficial curcuminoids. Perhaps most significantly, this variety of curcumin is absorbed into the bloodstream at a rate 7-10 BETTER than other types of curcumin. That improvement is particularly important since “bioavailability” – absorption – has been an issue with this botanical, and one of the reasons, as I’ve written repeatedly on this blog, that it is often combined with the black pepper compound piperine – as an absorption enhancer. Goel adds that curcumin BCM-95 can therefore be used in smaller doses, since its bioavailability is so much better.
The researcher completes the interview by underscoring this supplement’s SAFETY. It has been actively in use for thousands of years, Goel says, in India and in China.
Here’s the link to the full interview.
Inflammation involves several different cytokines—molecules that help cells communicate with each other. Curcumin affects each cytokine pathway, unlike over-the-counter and prescription drugs, which generally seek to completely disable one or two pathways. Curcumin does not disable any cytokine pathway; rather, it encourages more moderate expression and helps reduce excessive inflammation.Oxidative stress and DNA damage
Curcumin is a super-potent antioxidant. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 100 grams of blueberries has an antioxidant value of about 8,000, while the same amount of turmeric is about 150,000 and curcumin checks in at a whopping 1 million. Antioxidants help fight free radicals—substances that can cause major damage to our DNA (the blueprints for building new cells in the body). If you damage these blueprints, you create next-generation cells that are not as efficient as the parent cell…. This damage also causes mutations, the deadliest of which are cancer cells. The stronger the antioxidant, the more powerful the protection against DNA damage.Inactive genetic expression
Research has found that age and environment can cause certain genes in our body to, in essence, go to sleep. Some of these genes direct our body to suppress cancerous tumors. That’s why cancer risk increases with age—some of our defense mechanisms become inactive. One group of scientists at Baylor University has published research demonstrating that curcumin can actually wake up these sleeping genes. The field of study that examines which activities and substances turn genes on and off is called epigenetics. Curcumin has the greatest influence on the widest variety of epigenetic contributors to cancer that has thus far been discovered.Here’s the link to the Myers article.
My Experience with Curcumin
I've been trying curcumin for the past few weeks, and I'll report further on my experience soon. But right now I'm dealing with something more important -- my grandson Colin's graduation from the Maryland Institute College of Art.