The Health Benefits of Curcumin Supplements

A Look at the Positive Effects and Benefits of Curcumin Supplements

Kenneth Rybicki MD, PhD

With the increased attention on antioxidants, itís important to know what nutrients are antioxidants, and information about them. One such nutrient is Curcumin. Curcumin is a natural extract from the spice Turmeric. Turmeric is derived from the plant Curcuma Longa, a member of the ginger family.

Curcumin has been used for many centuries in India and Asia because of its numerous potential benefits. Curcumin is an important ingredient in curry powder, which is a blend of several spices. Curryís distinctive yellow color is due to its content of Curcumin. Curcumin has been used since ancient times to treat disorders from arthritis and digestive problems, to urinary complaints. It was also used to treat low energy and a variety of skin and wound conditions.

There are thousands of research papers written on the potential medical benefit of Curcumin. These studies have shown that Curcumin may have the following properties:

Some researchers believe that Curcumin may be helpful in treating Alzheimerís disease, Diabetes, allergies, and arthritis. However, scientists have not found conclusive evidence that shows that Curcumin can cure or prevent these diseases. Some research has been promising, but no definitive conclusion has been made as of now.

Curcumin is a known antioxidant which inherently has many health benefits This is due to the ability of antioxidants to neutralize and counteract free radicals. Free radicals are chemicals produced by the body during normal functions and by external factors such as pollution. Free radicals can cause many problems in the body including inflammation and swelling and possibly promoting cancer growth. Curcumin, due to its antioxidant activity, may prevent some of these serious health problems.

Curcumin has been studied extensively regarding its role in preventing and treating cancer. Curcumin may help prevent and treat cancer by several mechanisms. First, it may help block certain dangerous chemicalsí cancer causing effects. Also, Curcumin may block the growth of cancer cells. Additionally, Curcumin may stop the growth of blood vessels into tumors which in turn prevents the tumors from growing.

Angiogenesis is the scientific term meaning the process which a tumor uses to promote blood vessels growing into a tumor. This allows the tumor or cancer to spread. Curcumin has been found to block this blood vessel formation in two ways. It can block the blood vessel formation directly or indirectly by affecting the enzymes used in the blood vessel formation process.

It is also believed that Curcumin can cause cancer cells to self-destruct and can also prevent cancer cells from multiplying. Under normal circumstances, the body attempts to rid itself of abnormal cells such as cancer cells through a process known as apoptosis. In many cases, cancer cells can attempt to prevent apoptosis. Curcumin overrides the cancer cells and causes them to self-destruct.

Additionally, Curcumin may help prevent Alzheimers disease. Alzheimerís disease is due, in part, to the accumulation of amyloid, a protein, in the brain. Research studies have shown that Curcumin directly decreases amyloid accumulation. Curcumin also helps with arthritis by reducing the COX-2 enzyme in the body. By inhibiting this enzyme Curcumin decreases the pain and swelling of arthritis.

It is difficult to obtain enough Curcumin to realize these health benefits through normal diet alone. Many of the studies have been based on people who receive Curcumin through a nutritional supplement. Nutritional supplements can provide a significant amount of Curcumin that most people cannot receive from their normal eating. However, it is important not to take too much of antioxidants such as Curcumin. Studies have shown that large amounts may have adverse health effects. Therefore, it is important to take nutritional supplements that have sensible amounts of antioxidants, including Curcumin.

The full effects of Curcumin are not yet fully understood. In regions like India and Asia it was believed that Curcumin cured a variety of ailments. Today, the most promising health benefits of Curcumin are attributed to its ability to defend against free radicals and slow or prevent oxidative stress. Although research is ongoing, and the results are not conclusive, there are many possible Curcumin benefits, and it has tremendous potential for health improvement.

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Updated November 2013