November 6, 2014

Curcumin / Turmeric: Good Reports Just Keep Coming

I’ve written about curcumin – the active ingredient in the curry spice turmeric – so often it’d make your head spin. Residents of the Indian subcontinent call turmeric the “holy powder,” and for millennia it’s been used for both culinary and medicinal purposes.

There’s good reason for the attention I’ve devoted to the dietary supplement. It has undergone thousands of scientific, peer-reviewed studies through the years, and -- with its anti-inflammatory properties -- has demonstrated efficacy in treating many conditions and illnesses, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, arthritis, several cancers, and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

Several years ago, I established a “Google alert” for curcumin, which directs to my inbox the links to all new internet "mentions" about the supplement. I’ve been amazed by the frequency of reports… all positive.

So I wasn’t at all surprised to find this article -- “Six Reasons to Use Turmeric” -- from the October 21 edition of the online journal Counsel and Heal. Here it is:

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Turmeric spice is native to southeast India and it comes from a plant that belongs to the ginger family. Turmeric, which is an ingredient used in curry dishes, has been linked to several health benefits. Here are 6 reasons why you should add turmeric to your pantry:

1. Improves heartburn and an upset stomach
Turmeric has been linked to taming heartburn and treating an upset stomach. A small study conducted in 1989 concluded that turmeric supplements, when compared to placebo pills, were effective in preventing heartburn and complications from indigestion. Experts believe that these health effects stem from the plant's ability to combat inflammation.
  
2. Prevents heart attacks
A compound found in turmeric known as curcumin might be able to ward of heart attacks. Researchers believe that curcumin's antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties are responsible for reducing people's risk of heart attacks. Curcumin is also responsible for the spice's bright color.

3. Delays diabetes
According to a 2012 study, patients with prediabetes who took curcumin supplements successfully delayed the onset of type 2 diabetes in comparison to prediabetic patients who took a placebo pill.

4. Combats cancer
Based on the results from lab and animal studies, researchers believe that turmeric has many cancer-fighting properties. Under the lab setting, experts have found that curcumin can kill cancer cells, shrink tumors and enhance the effects of chemotherapy when used in animals. Studies to test the effects of this compound in human subjects are still in the early stages.

5. Protects the brain
Another compound found in turmeric called aromatic turmerone (ar-turmerone) has been linked to brain health. Researchers reported that the compound promotes stem cells to repair in the brains of lab rats, which could potentially help patients recover from neurodegenerative diseases.

6. Alleviates joint pain
Since curcumin has anti-inflammatory properties, it can also help with joint pain. A study found that people with knee osteoarthritis who took turmeric extract capsules experienced joint pain relief that was comparable to patients who took ibuprofen.

Even though many studies have linked turmeric to several health conditions, turmeric supplements, like other dietary pills, are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Before starting any supplement regimen, you should consult with their doctors, especially if you have other health conditions and are on medications.

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Here are just a few of my recent posts about curcumin:

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