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If you’ve heard of turmeric, then you’re already aware of its health-boosting benefits and deep yellow coloration. The yellow pigment comes from a molecule known as curcumin, which is also found to a lesser extent, it can also be found in ginger. Although it acts similar to other polyphenols, it’s unique in that is a different class, relative to other classes such as flavonoids.
It offers potent anti-inflammatory effects which may help against inflammatory pain and offer protection against various forms of cancer. With that being said, curcumin offers additional anti-cancer benefits that are independent of its anti-inflammatory effects.
Based on these effects, curcumin is being studied for both cancer prevention and treatment purposes. There’s also a lot of interest regarding cognitive and heart-related research, as well as its effects on diabetic symptoms and plaque levels in one’s arteries.
History of Curcumin and Turmeric
There is some debate as to when the spice turmeric was first used, however, it’s said that people in India and China have been using this delicious spice for thousands of years. Some stories even suggest that traditional use may date back to 10,000 years ago. Ancient cultures are also believed to have used turmeric as a dye and to warn off evil spirits.
When it comes to curcumin, western researchers first isolated this molecule in 1815. It was obtained in its crystalline form in 1870 and its overall structure was determined by the early 1900s. Curcumin is the most active ingredient in turmeric and has since then, been studied based on its wide range of beneficial effects.
The Benefits of Curcumin
Curcumin offers a wide range of benefits due to its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer effects. It’s known to assist overall health and vitality while assisting gallbladder function, minimizing oxidative stress, reducing symptoms of menopause, and so much more.
Since curcumin can effectively cross the blood-brain barrier, it should not be overlooked as an effective neuroprotector. As we age, our cognitive functioning begins to decline. It’s critical to care for your brain, just as you do your heart. Here are just some of the ways in which curcumin could potentially benefit your health and overall well-being:
- Helps combat cancer stem cells
- Reduces inflammation and associated joint pain
- Helps to maintain healthy cells but destroying destructive free radicals
- Offer protection against the effects of aging
- Promotes heart health and the reduction of LDL cholesterol levels
- Improves circulation
- Protects against the development of Alzheimer’s and other degenerative conditions
- Supports kidney and liver function
- Encourages natural detoxification
When it comes to cancer research, curcumin has been shown to be highly promising. Although there has already been a fair amount of exciting research conducted, you can expect to hear more in the future and researchers continue to search for more effective cancer treatments and preventative measures.
In a recent review, more than 700 curcumin clinical trials were analyzed regarding cancer and curcumin. It was found that curcumin is just as effective as the pharmaceutical drugs used to treat colon, liver, mouth, prostate, breast, and esophagus cancers. In more recent research, it’s been found that curcumin may inhibit the formation of skin cancer and delay associated tumors.
As an anti-inflammatory, curcumin has gained a lot of attention regarding osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Studies have shown that curcumin’s anti-inflammatory effects work as well as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). It also doesn’t produce the side effects that many pharmaceutical painkillers do.
If you’re looking to improve your heart health, it’s critical to understand that inflammation plays a role in heart disease. Research has shown that curcumin’s heart benefits reach far beyond the reduction of inflammation, however, as cholesterol and triglycerides levels can also be reduced. It’s also been shown to support weight-loss efforts and symptoms of diabetes, further protecting the heart.
Potential Side Effects
As long as you follow the guidelines stated by the manufacturer, curcumin and turmeric are generally safe. The majority of people do not experience any side effects, however, it is possible to experience dizziness, nausea, and diarrhea at high doses.
With that being said, there are some conditions that may be affected by curcumin’s effects. If you suffer from any of the following conditions or you’re pregnant, please refrain from taking curcumin until you speak with your doctor regarding your condition:
• Diabetes: Since curcumin can lower blood sugar levels, those who are diabetic should take caution to reduce their risk of hypoglycemia.
• Bleeding issues: When taking turmeric, you could slow down the clotting of your blood. This can increase bruising and bleeding for those who suffer from a bleeding disorder.
• Gastroesophageal reflux disease: If you suffer from this stomach disorder, curcumin can make stomach issues worse.
• Gallbladder issues: If you have gallstones or a bile duct obstruction, you could suffer negative side effects.
• Iron deficiency: If you’re deficient, turmeric can prevent the absorption of iron at high doses.
How to Take Curcumin
When taking curcumin orally, it will be absorbed through the intestines. Of course, this offers digestive benefits on top of the other key benefits in which this molecule offers. To produce beneficial effects, users typically take anywhere from 80 to 500 mg.
When taking curcumin on its own, it tends to be poorly absorbed. That is why it’s recommended that curcumin should be taken with piperine or black pepper. This simply increases absorption. If you are taking a curcumin supplement, which is your best bet, the label will list proper guidelines.
You should always follow the required dosage as mentioned by the manufacturer. If you have any concerns regarding dosing based on a personal condition you have, please speak with your doctor before taking your first dose.