If you’re looking for a big bang for your buck supplement that counters inflammation, supports health, and has promising cancer prevention benefits, curcumin is the way to go.
A powerful antioxidant derived from the spice turmeric, curcumin is surfacing in foods as diverse as ice cream and cereal. Currently popular due to its designation as a superfood, turmeric is not new. In fact, it’s been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine due to its ability to heal wounds, fight infection, calm the mind, and support wellness in the body.
How does it do this?
Scientists theorize that the bioactive curcuminoids in turmeric have an anti-inflammatory effect, scavenging reactive oxygen species that damage tissue and DNA in the body. This makes curcumin a great supplement for supporting the body’s response to stress. Clinical trials show that curcumin has the following benefits:
1. Promotes joint health by reducing inflammation that leads to arthritis and pain during movement (1, 2).
2. Supports brain health, improving mood and reducing symptoms of major depression— a condition that is associated with high levels of inflammation in the brain (e).
3. Slows cognitive decline and reduces the progression of Alzheimer’s due to its ability to reduce deposition of beta amyloid plaques in the brain (4).
4. Supports digestive health by countering inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract, including irritable bowel disease, dyspepsia, and ulcers (4, 5).
5. Improves cancer diagnosis by boosting blood antioxidant activity and supporting the body’s immune system (6).
6. Protects metabolic health and reduces fat gain following a successful period of weight loss through diet and exercise (7).
Curcumin has also been shown to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, anti-tumor, antidepressant, and anti-epileptic activity (8, 9, 10). Research shows it supports organ function, protecting the adrenals and liver.
Who Should Take Curcumin?
Curcumin is recommended for anyone seeking to overcome inflammation and it may be especially effective at reducing symptoms of arthritis, depression, and GI disorders including IBS. Curcumin may also aid body composition and help prevent fat regain after a diet. It also may reduce the risk of cancer and could help with cancer treatment, though cancer patients should always consult with a health care practitioner prior to supplementing.
Who Should Not Take It?
Curcumin is contraindicated in cases of obstruction of the biliary tract. Individuals with gallstones should consult with a physician prior to use (5).
The safety of curcumin during pregnancy has not been established. As a precautionary measure the drug should not be used during pregnancy except on medical advice (5). Excretion of the drug into breast milk and its effects on the newborn have not been established. Until such data are available, curcumin should not be used during lactation except on medical advice (5).
Some data show curcumin should not be taken with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or anticoagulant drugs due to increased risk of bleeding (5).
How To Take It?
In an ideal world, you could regularly cook with turmeric and reap all the benefits. Unfortunately, the curcumin content of turmeric is fairly low, clocking in around 3 percent by weight. Most of the studies showing benefits are using turmeric extracts that contain mostly curcumin, with dosages of at least 1 gram per day. It is impossible to reach these levels from turmeric. Therefore, if you want to reap the full effects, you need to supplement.
The big issue with curcumin is how to make it bioavailable. Curcumin is poorly absorbed in the GI tract. When it is absorbed, it is rapidly metabolized by the body, rendering it unable to exert biological effects. While investigating ways to overcome these challenges, scientists discovered a synergism between the curcuminoids and the essential oils naturally present in turmeric. This discovery resulted in the development of our curcumin supplement CL-Ox, which contains only ingredients that are typically found in the turmeric plant.
Because CL-Ox’s bioavailability is maximized by the addition of turmeric essential oils, non-turmeric compounds, such as piperine (a substance found in black pepper) are not needed to enhance bioavailability. This is important because although piperine can improve absorption of curcumin, it can also cross the blood brain barrier, which could put the brain at risk of exposure to toxins or pathogens.
In terms of how much to take, most studies have shown benefits from 500 to 1,000 mg a day. Curcumin is fat soluble and should be taken with a meal that contains fat.
What Supplements Go Well With Curcumin?
Because curcumin is fat soluble, it pairs well with fish oil. Several studies show anti-inflammatory effects of fish oil and curcumin. The pair have also been shown to protect the brain against cognitive decline and to counter insulin resistance and heart disease factors in diabetics.
Curcumin also pairs well with supplements that support organ function and detoxification. It is synergistic with other anti-inflammatory aids, such as those targeting joints, antioxidant “greens” powders, and liver support supplements (11). One study found that when curcumin was supplemented with silymarin (the bioactive compound in milk thistle) it made colon cancer cells more receptive to the protective action of silymarin (12).
Final Words: Curcumin is your go-to supplement for overcoming inflammatory diseases, including heart disease, obesity, cancer, and diabetes. It may also improve immunity, ease depression, counter arthritis, and boost the body’s ability to handle stress The health benefits of curcumin are thought to come from the whole turmeric spice in a formulation that provides turmeric oils as well as the curcumin compounds. Get these benefits from a high-quality supplement such as CL-Ox.