Turmeric Fights Against Chronic Disease:
The orange Asian herb turmeric has been traditionally used for centuries by Ayurveda and Chinese medicine. Curcumin is the most powerful active anti-inflammatory compound within turmeric. Curcumin has been shown to be a powerful suppressor of chronic inflammatory mediated disease processes (1).
Many Asian cultures use turmeric in nearly every meal. They rave of its anti-aging and medicinal benefits. Western medicine has just begun to research it its components at a very deep level to better understand turmeric’s remarkable health properties. Over 570 studies have appeared in the mainstream literature demonstrating curcumin’s cancer protective effects (2).
Curcumin and Blood Sugar Stability:
Curcuminoid polyphenols are the primary anti-oxidant in turmeric root. Curcumin is the principle curcuminoid and it is responsible for the majority of health benefits attributed to turmeric. The other curcuminoids include desmthoxycurcumin and bis-desmethoxycurcumin.
Blood sugar imbalances and insulin resistance are huge factors that promote inflammatory conditions in the body. Elevated blood sugar creates hazardous glucose cross linked proteins called Advanced Glycolytic Enzymes (AGE’s). These AGE’s damage cell membranes, vital enzyme systems and perpetuate inflammatory conditions throughout the body.
Curcumin Improves Insulin Sensitivity
Curcumin modulates blood sugar and improves insulin receptor function by improving its binding capacity to sugar. Curcumin activates PPAR (peroxisome proliferator-activator receptor) which is a group of key nuclear proteins that regulate gene expression and modulate sugar uptake and utilization in the bloodstream.
Curcumin also reduces the activity of specific liver enzymes that release sugar into the bloodstream while activating enzymes that store sugar as glycogen. Research on type 2 diabetes patients resulted in blood glucose stabilization and lowered triglyceride levels in the group that consumed curcumin (3).
Curcumin as an Anti-oxidant:
Turmeric is the 8th highest anti-oxidant rich food on the planet with an Oxygen Radical Absorbency Capacity (ORAC) of 127,068 (4). The curcuminoids boost levels of the bodies most potent anti-oxidants including glutathione, superoxide dismutase and catalase. These molecules are critical for the body to limit oxidative stress related damage to the vital organ systems.
Curcumin has been shown to reduce inflammatory mediating prostaglandins, cytokines and other molecules such as interleukin 6, Nuclear Factor Kappa Beta (NF-kb) and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF – alpha) (5, 6). With a high enough dosage this has the ability to pull the body out of a strong inflammatory cascade and reset anti-inflammatory behavior at the cellular level.
Curcumin and Cancer:
Research done at the Life Extension Foundation found that curcuminoids target ten factors involved in cancer development (7). This includes chronic inflammation, DNA damage and disruption of cell signaling pathways. Curcumin supplementation was shown to target destruction of cancer cell mitochondria, disrupt the cancer cell cycle and arrest stem cell development that facilitates further cancer cell formation.
There are hundreds of other studies that have shown that curcumin turns on natural apoptotic (cell suicide) switches in cancer cells (8). They also reduce inflammatory prostaglandins that promote cancer cell growth. A study out of China showed that curcumin was able to induce apoptosis within triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) cells (9). TNBC is a type of cancer that defies conventional chemotherapy and radiation.
Best Dosages of Curcumin:
For optimal curcumin absorption it is necessary to combine the turmeric with good fats such as coconut oil or milk or olive oil. You will also want to add a dash of black pepper for the piperine molecule that enhances curcumin uptake.
For individuals with chronic inflammatory diseases such as cancer it is recommended to supplement with high dose curcumin. Find one that is made with piperine in an enteric coating that protects the nutrient from stomach acid for optimal absorption.
There hasn’t been an official dosage that has been established by the scientific literature. However, studies involving human patients with cancer found that curcumin doses of 3.6 grams or more daily had the best effect (10).
Curcumin regulates tumor suppressor pathways and triggers mitochondrial mediated death in the cancer tissue. Curcumin is anti-angiogenic which means that it shuts down the ability of cancer cells to develop extra blood supply that these cells use to fuel on. This effect makes cancer cells more vulnerable to pharmacological treatments such as chemotherapy and other cancer control drugs.
I highly recommend using turmeric on various foods. I will put it on my meat (chicken, bison, grass-fed beef, lamb, eggs, etc) after I cook it (not before because I don;t want to damage these precious anti-oxidants). I simply grill up the meat on a pan in a large amount of coconut oil. After it is cooked, I add a lot of turmeric (usually a few tsps) and smother it in the oils around the meat and flip the meat around so that the oils collect the turmeric and it stays attached to the meat.
I also add in some black pepper as curcuminoid anti-oxidants are absorbed and utilized more effectively with the use of good fats like coconut oil, olive oil or butter and black pepper. This turmeric zucchini soup here is a great example of this.
I am a huge fan of taking supplemental curcumin and believe the highest quality curcumin is in a liposomal format. This is why I personally use and recommend the Meriva 500-SF which is the most researched form of liposomal curcumin on the market.
A liposome is a substance bound in a phospholipid form that is the same substance as the cell membrane’s in our body. The phospholipid allows the curcumin to pass through the digestive tract and into the blood stream without degredation. It then fuses with the cell membrane and gets into the cell where it can have its bioactive impact. Research has demonstrated that this phospholipid form enhances the absorption of the curcumin by the cell up to 20 times (11).
Phospholipids and in particular, phosphatidylcholine is an essential nutrient for brain function. It makes up a large part of brain cells and is incorporated into all of your neuron cell membranes. The absorption of the curcuminoids is significantly enhanced when it is in this liposomal form and it crosses the blood brain barrier to have a powerful impact on overall brain and neurological support.