Curcumin is a natural anti-inflammatory agent that has been used for treating medical conditions for many years. Several experimental and pharmacologic trials have demonstrated its efficacy in the role as an anti-inflammatory agent. Curcumin has been shown to be effective in treating chronic conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, Alzheimer’s and common
malignancies like colon, stomach, lung, breast, and skin cancers. As treatments in medicine become more and more complex, the answer may be something simpler.
Curcumin is the principle component of turmeric, a curry spice used as an edible component through different parts of Asia, mainly for its flavour and colour profile and less so for its medicinal properties. In Ayurvedic medicine, curcumin is used as treatment for a variety of health conditions, including respiratory illness, liver disorders, inflammatory disorders and diabetic wounds. In ancient Hindu medicine, it was used topically to treat sprains and swelling. In traditional Chinese medicine, curcumin is mainly
used in treatment for conditions associated with abdominal pain. Current evidence suggests that curcumin is a highly pleiotropic molecule with numerous targets and mechanisms of action. It has properties that alter the activity of enzymes, growth factor receptors, cofactors, and other molecules. Curcumin has been confirmed by scientific research to be anticarcinogenic, antimicrobial, hepatoprotective, cardioprotective and thrombosuppresive.
What makes Curcumin Special?
As curcumin is considered the most active ingredient in turmeric, researchers have begun to isolate it and examine whether it could benefit certain conditions on its own.
It has been shown to have strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects and can even support wound healing through its antibacterial effects.
What’s more, both turmeric and curcumin have been found to reduce blood sugars in type 2 diabetes. However, an animal study determined that curcumin was better at minimizing diabetes markers than turmeric.
Curcumin can specifically lower inflammatory markers such as tumor necrosis factor (TNF) and interleukin 6 (IL-6), which are key contributors to type 2 diabetes
Additional studies are needed that compare the effects of turmeric and curcumin in people with
type 2 diabetes.
These are not the only health benefits of curcumin. It may also reduce osteoporosis risk.
One animal study found that rats who received turmeric extracts enriched with curcumin-like curcuminoids had preserved bone mass, whereas those who had a lower amount of added curcuminoids showed no effect
A helpful tip is to add some black pepper to your meals or supplements that contain curcumin. A substance in black pepper called piperine can increase the bioavailability of curcumin by 2,000%.
The Bottom Line
Turmeric is a golden spice that has been used to treat inflammation, bacterial infections and digestive issues for thousands of years.
It contains curcumin, which has proven antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
Most studies use extracted turmeric with a high concentration of curcumin or curcumin alone.
Both turmeric and curcumin can reduce joint inflammation, cholesterol, blood sugar, as well as tumor, fungal and bacterial growth. Make sure you have some black pepper with your turmeric powder or supplement, as this will help improve curcumin’s absorption.