People living India, Asia and Indonesian countries are no strangers to curcumin. This is a compound found in turmeric (think curry!). And it’s one of the most powerful healing spices in the world.
These days, Americans are buzzing over this rising star. It even ranked a top spot in Google’s 2016 Food Trends Report as the “top-trending functional food”. Interest in this spice rose more than 56% in a matter of only a few months.
So what’s all the hoopla about? It turns out that this yellow-orange compound packs a mighty wallop when it comes to healing what ails you.
1. Master Anti-Inflammatory
It’s probably best known for its anti-inflammatory activity. This makes it especially useful when it comes to slashing the aches and pains associated with arthritis. In fact, it works as well as – or better than – some of the pain relievers you’ll find on the pharmacy shelves.
For example, in one study patients with rheumatoid arthritis took 500 mg of curcumin, 50 mg of a prescription pain reliever – or a combination of the two – twice daily for eight weeks.
Surprisingly, the group that took curcumin alone had the highest improvement in the number of joints affected by tenderness and swelling. They also showed greatest reduction in symptoms.
In another study, researchers compared the effectiveness of 1,500 mg of curcumin daily vs. 1,200 mg of ibuprofen in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee. After four weeks, pain and function scores were very similar between the two groups.
The most common dosage for pain relief, especially from arthritis, is 500 mg three times daily.
2. Protects the Heart
If you want to keep your heart healthy and beating strong, curcumin can easily help you do that. Just 200 mg daily protects against plaque build up in the arteries, keeps your HDL and LDL cholesterol from degrading and acts as a blood thinner.
3. Shields the Brain
Curcumin can also help protect your brain from the threat of Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, research shows that simply eating curry more than once a month can help boost cognitive function. This may be why Alzheimer’s rates are more then four times lower in older adults who live in India.
Studies suggest it works by reducing amyloid plaques (a hallmark of Alzheimer’s) and keeping your neurons from degrading. It also helps remove toxic metals that may be associated with the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
Curcumin even works to help prevent diabetes – a condition that actually contributes to your chances of developing both heart disease and Alzheimer’s.
4. Balances Glucose
When 240 pre-diabetic individuals were given either curcumin or a placebo, not a single person in the curcumin group developed type 2 diabetes over the next nine months. However, almost 17% of the placebo group ended up with a diabetes diagnosis over the same time period.
5. Offers a Future Anti-Cancer Promise?
One area where curcumin holds a great deal of promise is in its anti-cancer activity. This mighty compound has been shown to…
- Prevent cancer cells from multiplying
- Kill tumor cells while keeping healthy cells intact
- Inhibit enzymes that promote tumor growth
- Reduce DNA and mitochondrial damage associated with the development of cancer
To ensure the highest quality, look for a curcumin supplement that’s standardized to 90 to 95% total curcuminoids. It should also contain piperine. This is a substance found in black pepper that adds an incredible boost to curcumin absorption.
While dosage ranges vary greatly, it’s a good idea to start at 1,000 to 1,500 mg daily, which is the amount used in many studies.
Chandran B, et al. A randomized, pilot study to assess the efficacy and safety of curcumin in patients with active rheumatoid arthritis. Phytother Res. 2012 Nov;26(11):1719-25.
Kuptniratsaikul V, et al. Efficacy and safety of Curcuma domestica extracts compared with ibuprofen in patients with knee osteoarthritis: a multicenter study. Clin Interv Aging. 2014 Mar 20;9:451-8.
Miquel J, et al. The curcuma antioxidants: pharmacological effects and prospects for future clinical use. A review. Arch Gerontol Geriatr. 2002 Feb;34(1):37-46.
Mishra S, et al. The effect of curcumin (turmeric) on Alzheimer’s disease: An overview. Ann Indian Acad Neurol. 2008 Jan-Mar; 11(1): 13–19.
Chuengsamarn S, et al. Curcumin extract for prevention of type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care. 2012 Nov;35(11):2121-7.
Ravindran J, et al. Curcumin and Cancer Cells: How Many Ways Can Curry Kill Tumor Cells Selectively? AAPS J. 2009 Sep; 11(3): 495–510.
Dana Nicholas is a freelance writer and researcher in the field of natural and alternative healing. She has over 20 years of experience working with many noted health authors and anti-aging professionals, including James Balch, M.D., Dr. Linda Page, “Amazon” John Easterling and Al Sears M.D. Dana’s goal is to keep you up-to-date on information, news and breakthroughs that can have a direct impact on your health, your quality of life… and your lifespan. “I’m absolutely convinced that America’s misguided trust in mainstream medicine – including reliance on the government to regulate our food and medicine supply – is killing us, slowly but surely,” she cautions. “By sharing what I’ve learned throughout the years I hope I can empower others to take control over their own health.”