Curcumin, There’s More To Tell
We published a very thorough and complex article
on curcumin written by a guest writer. A few people wrote
to me telling me how they had a hard time getting through it. Well,
now you know why I was taught to write (and I taught others to
write) using our own voice. Writing is communicating. If you’re not
in touch with the reader, it doesn’t matter what you have to say,
there is SO much more to tell you about curcumin, so hang on.
The guest’s article was about cancer and
curcumin. One very salient point concerning curcumin and cancer is
that there are probably more studies on curcumin and cancer than on
any other supplement and cancer, but still there has never been a
study in which curcumin was actually used to treat cancer. Sure, we
hear a lot about vitamin D these days, but that’s because scientists
are quickly realizing that vitamin D might just be a hormone (like
substance) that affects a lot more processes in the body than anyone
had ever previously dreamed, but curcumin has been around for
centuries, and has been used in a lot of folk medicine and Ayurvedic
Curcumin works its magic against
cancer in the following ways.
Is antiangiogenetic (stops blood
vessels from growing and feeding the tumor)
Inhibits the synthesis of proteins
responsible for tumor formation
Inhibits the transformation of healthy
cells into tumor cells
Inhibits proliferation of tumor cells
And inhibits the spread of cancer by
destroying free (circulating) cancer cells
And as much as I recommend cooking
with turmeric (curcumin is one of turmeric’s constituents), turmeric
cannot and will not do what curcumin does because the amount you get
from turmeric is very little. Yes, you can get a bit of curcumin’s
anti-inflammation properties cooking with turmeric, but that’s it.
It’s all about bioavailability.
Good ol’ Dr Mercola has a pretty interesting
article on curcumin and cancer, and interestingly enough he brings
up the fact that people who are overweight with type two diabetes
have higher rates of cancer than those who are slimmer and not
insensitive to insulin, but he leaves it there.
Curcumin is hypoglycemic, meaning it helps to
control your blood sugar. This might just be one of curcumin’s
pathways to controlling inflammation. First it inhibits activation
of NF-kB and secondly it lowers blood sugar which is inflammatory.
And thirdly, curcumin reduces fat in the blood (a condition called
hypertriglyceridemia) resulting in an increase in insulin
NF-kB is a protein that acts as a sort of switch,
turning on inflammation by activating genes involved in the
production of inflammatory compounds. As NF-kB activation has been
implicated in all the stages of carcinogenesis, this transcription
factor is a potential target in cancer chemoprevention and is the
subject of intensive research.
Novel Turmeric Compound Delivers
Much More Curcumin to the Blood
In one study, it was concluded that turmeric
reduces triglycerides in the blood by promoting “utilization” of
them. What the means is that instead of the body storing the fats,
it burns them for energy directly due to the presence of curcumin. [Mol
Nutr Food Research. 29 AUG 2012L-X. NA. doi: 10.1002/mnfr. ]
The overall result of the study was improved
markers for diabetes. This is great news.
And since chronic inflammation (and hidden
inflammation) is an epidemic in our population, curcumin is one
supplement worth checking into. Use Google and you’ll find studies
on curcumin for everything from Alzheimer’s to rheumatoid arthritis.
But again, the problem is bioavailability. You
see, curcumin is just 3.14% of pure turmeric. And of that small
amount, the bioavailability is also miniscule due to poor
absorption, rapid metabolism, and quick elimination. And when you go
shopping for curcumin online, you get caught up in a number chase.
Remember statistics never lie, but liars use statistics.
I found one site where a
Michael Greger MD
claims: “Dietary strategies, including the use of black pepper (piperine),
can boost blood levels of curcumin from the spice turmeric by up to
And I love how a simple thing as “black
pepper” can suddenly get a world class name:
Click on that link and you’ll see that you need a degree in higher
math and statistical analysis to understand the page. (And nobody
studies higher math today because the first day of class, the
professor writes a huge complicated equation on the board and
everyone gets up and leaves to go change their majors.)
Then I found this site that claims,
Curcumin shows 46-fold bioavailability increase compared to standard
curcumin: Study. I love this
page because of their gratuitous use of gobbledygook:
The new study, published in Nutrition Journal, indicated
that formulating curcumin with a combination of hydrophilic
charier, cellulosic derivatives and natural antioxidants (CurcuWin
from OmniActive) increased serum curcuminoid levels 46 times
over standard curcumin.
Hydrophilic simply means it dissolves in water
and cellulosic means it came from cellulose, or a plant’s cell wall.
And Life Extension (lef.org) has one called
Bio Curcumin® and they claim that each 400mg capsule is equal to
2772mg of a typical 95% curcumin extract.
Now my “simple” math says that Life Extension’s
product is 6.93 times better than regular curcumin, and OmniActive’s
bioavailability is "46-fold" greater than regular curcumin, but with
black pepper you get a 2000% increased bioavailability.
Do you see what’s happening here? Everyone is
using different means of portraying their “results” that are as mixed
as apples and oranges. I could show you more, but you’d just shake
your head and give up.
So First Let Us Summarize
The benefits of curcumin are (including some
we've not covered):
It is a powerful anti-inflammatory, powerful
enough to treat (and improve) a number of conditions, including:
Alzheimer's, cardiovascular disease, arthritis, diabetes, and
It is a powerful antioxidant.
It boosts Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor
(a type of growth hormone that works only in the brain), which
improves brain function while lowering your risk of brain
diseases, such as Alzheimer's.
Improves a variety of cardiovascular
conditions, including: endothelial function (the layer of cells
lining blood vessels that control blood pressure, clotting,
nitric oxide, the flow of white blood cells, and more).
Prevents cancer. (It has never been fully
tested in treating cancer, though it should be.)
Aids in any weight loss program.
So, what to do? First, I found you
NOW Food’s formula.
This is the lowest price I found. I’ve always
trusted NOW Foods, and they have a one of the more bioavailable
forms I’ve found in my research.
Next, did you know that not only does black
pepper increase bioavailability of curcumin, but so does combining
it with oil and, get this, cooking?
For you who truly want to cut your inflammation,
end diabetes, lose weight, and stave off a good number is chronic
degenerative illnesses, then it’s time to let your food be your
Do you have any idea how difficult it was to find
a powdered curcumin? Try it. (I double dare you!) You’ll find a ton
of turmeric. It took me three days of going over Google’s results to
actually find a
95% curcumin (in powdered form).
You can do the math and you’ll see that it’s just
about the same price as the curcumin in the
NOW foods product. Getting it in bulk allows you to determine
how much you want to use in your cooking. You can still add turmeric
to your stir-fries, but this time you can add just a half a teaspoon
of this curcumin and you’ll be getting nearly 1500 mgs of turmeric.
Add pepper and coconut oil, and you’ll be getting the best
absorption at the best price. And it’s not a supplement, it’s your
Curcumin: The story
A phase I study
investigating the safety and pharmacokinetics of highly bioavailable
curcumin (Theracurmin) in cancer patients