Sunday, October 16, 2016

Turmeric: King of Herbal Anti-Inflammatories

Turmeric is best known as the main spice in curry, but like most spices it does far more than add flavor to foods.   Turmeric has been used for thousands of years in China and India for medicinal purposes, and modern science has revealed the key ingredient responsible for its therapeutic benefits.    This ingredient or actually ingredients are collectively referred to as “curcuminoids” and include curcumin, demethoxycurcumin, and bisdemethoxycurcumin.  Curcumin is the primary curcuminoid in Turmeric and the compound which most of the 6,235 peer-reviewed articles on the benefits of Turmeric focus on.

The proven benefits of Turmeric extracts are many including:

Acting as a safe anticoagulant that can help with vascular thrombosis (NOTE: because of its slight anticoagulant effect it is important NOT to take it with medications such as aspirin, Plavix, Coumadin, and other anticoagulant drugs).

Turmeric has been shown to be as effective as Prozac in treating manic depressions and is very well tolerated.

Turmeric’s most powerful benefit is as a very safe anti-inflammatory substance.    Most diseases can be linked to excessive inflammation but all anti-inflammatory medication has a dark side including greatly increasing risk of gastric bleeding and kidney damage, elevated risk of heart attack, and the propensity to increase blood pressure.  Turmeric has none of these side effects and in fact improves gastric health, is very beneficial for the liver and causes no negative effects on the kidneys.  

Side benefits of Turmeric include improved liver health, improved cognitive health (it is being studied for the potential to slow down Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease), and it has proven power anti-cancer benefits both for the prevention and treatment of cancer.

Many studies have proven Turmeric’s ability to act as a potent and safe anti-inflammatory substance including studies showing Turmeric works as well if not better than some of the most potent anti-inflammatory medications such as Diclofenac.    However, Turmeric is much better tolerated making it an ideal choice for the management of inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s Disease while also safely reducing oxidative stress throughout the body.

Turmeric is such a potent anti-inflammatory that it is even capable of rivaling the most potent anti-inflammatory drug, corticosteroids, in the treatment of Psoriasis, Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Scleroderma and Chronic pain.   This is particularly relevant as corticosteroids have a host of very serious side effects including delayed wound healing, glaucoma, hypertension, insomnia, kidney and thyroid issues, increased risk of infection, thinning skin, cancer, asthma, acne, and muscle and bone loss!

Bioavailability Challenges 
Until recently the challenge with obtaining benefit from Turmeric is poor bioavailability of curcumin and its tendency to be metabolized quickly with rapid systemic clearance. So despite many proven benefits people have resorted to very high dosages which can cause gastric and intestinal upset and other side effects.   

To overcome these challenges, several curcumin preparations have been developed to increase the bioavailability of curcumin after oral administration.    One in particular, Theracumin, has proven to be more effective than all the others.  In a study published in the Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology, Theracumin was shown to be over 5 times more bioavailable than the other two formulations tested AND over 27 times better absorbed and bioavailable than standard Turmeric supplements.   Here is the study:

This is great news because this allows a much lower dosage which eliminates the GI side effects that can be experienced with high intake of raw herb powder Turmeric.     For a great video review on Theracumin done by one of the world’s leading physician on integrative medicine Dr. Michael Murray click here:  

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