Curcumin is a natural polyphenol obtained from the rhizomes of Curcuma longa. Curcuma has been used for a few thousand years in Ayurvedic and Chinese traditions for culinary purposes as well as religious and medical. Curcumin is the main ingredient of turmeric- the orange spice widely used in Eastern cuisine. Labeled as E100, it is used as a food coloring. Studies and clinical trials on Curcumin have shown that this compound is characterized by a very broad spectrum of effects and can be an excellent therapeutic or preventive diet supplement.
Curcumin reduces the level of inflammatory cytokines and because of the stable structure of the molecule, it is a powerful antioxidant and effective scavenger of free oxygen radicals, which together with a chronic inflammatory condition are considered to be a key factor in the development of various diseases- such as diabetes, arthritis, neurodegenerative diseases, cardiovascular disease or cancer. Additionally, by activating gene expression response to oxidative stress, this compound stimulates the inner workings of the body's defenses enhancing the protective effect.1
Thanks to these attributes, this substance proves useful in cancer prevention as well as a cancer treatment aid, especially in the lungs and digestive tract. It was proven that it inhibits metastases and can even kill cancer cells through induction of apoptosis.2,3 Studies have demonstrated that, thanks to its anti-inflammatory effects, curcumin protects dopaminergic neurons and its inhibitory effect on the formation of amyloid plaques further enhances its therapeutic potential in the treatment of Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's.4,5
Curcumin induces neurogenesis, which is the creation of nerve cells in the brain. Chronic stress causes a decrease in the intensity of this process in the hippocampus- the key structure responsible for creating new memory traces, which tends to be the cause of depression disorders and the weakening of various cognitivie functions. Studies have shown that curcumin restores the normal level of neurogenic activity just as effectively as the commonly used SSRI anti-depresssant drugs.6,5 Moreover, it was shown that curcmin counteracts the negative effects of stroke and traumatic brain injury to synaptic plasticity.7
Curcmin has practically zero solubility in water, and thus, is barely absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract. Because of this, it can be consumed in amounts up to 12 grams. This compound is soluble in oil and alcohol and piperine contained in pepper can greatly potentiate the level of absobrtion of curcumin from the gastrointestinal tract.2 In combination with piperine or pepper, the recommended dose is 80-500 mg.9 A microspoon facilitating dosage measurement is included!
Curcumin is sometimes also used as poultices for insect bites and leeches, wounds and skin inflammation.8
Resveratrol9, many different anti-cancer meds9, pepper (piperine).2
Curcumin may interact with such drugs as aspirin, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, diabetes medications, statins, anticoagulants and drugs for hypertension. It can also interact with other supplements that lower blood clotting- such as ginkgo, ginseng and garlic.
Curcumin is considered safe. Some people may experience indigestion, nausea, dizziness or diarrhea.8 Particular caution is advised for people with blood coagulation disorders, diabetes and iron deficiency. Not recommended to take curcumin by people suffering from gallstones.8
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