Inflammation is the body’s natural defense against injuries and invading pathogens. The body uses a combination of heightened body temperature, free radicals, proteins and powerful macrophage cells to attack internal dangers and promote healing. And now for the bad news . . .
While inflammation is an evolutionary development that has helped humans survive and adapt, it is a double-edged sword. Aging reduces our ability to regulate our inflammatory reactions; when aging is combined with a diet high in unhealthy fats and sugars, exposure to free radicals via environmental toxins, obesity and an inactive lifestyle, inflammation can become systemic or chronic. Our body begins to attack its own nerves and organs leading to degenerative disease.1
In fact, the health conditions related to systemic inflammation read like a “who’s-who” of today’s fastest rising and most debilitating diseases including arthritis and cardiovascular issues.2
In looking for safe, natural ways to help reduce the effects of systemic inflammation, one particular culinary spice is gaining much attention. Curcumin, the pigment that gives the fiery Indian dish curry its signature yellow colour, has a long tradition of anti-inflammatory use and a present and future as one of the most research-backed nutraceuticals on the market. There have been over 2,400 scientific reviews of curcumin, many showing its potential as an anti-inflammatory, anticarcinogenic, antiviral, immune-modulator and cholesterol lowering nutrient.3,4
Although curcumin, naturally ocuuring in tumeric root, has tremendous potential for overall health due to its anti-inflammatory properties, its poor absorbability has been a challenge.5,6 It is estimated that as much as 75% of curcumin is directly excreted after ingestion.7 New research suggests that a patented complex of curcumin with phosphatidylcholine improved blood levels of curcumonoids by 20 times over standard turmeric extracts and even higher levels in the liver.8 More absorption means better anti-inflammatory effectiveness.9
Whether you are suffering from the common inflammatory disease of osteoarthritis, or want help in preventing some of today’s other major health conditions, curcumin can be a useful partner in putting out the inflammatory fire.
1. MacWilliam, Lyle. Nutrisearch Comparative Guide to Nutritional Supplements. Northern
Dimensions Publishing. 2007. P. 14.
3. Physicians Desk Reference for Nutritional Supplements. Medical Economics Company.
2001. P. 119
4. Jurenka, Julie S. Anti-inflammatory Properties of Curcumin, a Major Constituent of
Curcuma longa: A Review of Precliinical and Clinical Research. Alternative Medicine
Review. Volume 14. Number 2. 2009.
5. Kidd, Paris M., PhD. Bioavailability and Activity of Phytosome Complexes from Botanical
Polyphenls: The Silymarin, Curcumin, Green Tea, and Grape Seed Extracts. Alternative
Medicine Review. Volume 14. Number 3. 2009. P. 226.
6. Semalty A, et al, Supramolecular phospholipids–polyphenolics interactions: The
PHYTOSOME® strategy to improve the bioavailability of phytochemicals, Fitoterapia
7. Physicians Desk Reference for Nutritional Supplements. Medical Economics Company.
2001. P. 118
8. Marczylo TH, Verschoyle RD, Cooke DN, Morazzoni P, Steward WP, Gescher AJ.,
Comparison of systemic availability of curcumin with that of curcumin formulated with
phosphatidylcholine, Cancer Chemother Pharmacol. 2007 Jul;60(2):171-7.
9. Belcaro, Gianni, et al. Product evaluation registry of Meriva®, a curcuminphosphatidylcholine
complex for the complementary management of osteoarthritis.
Irvine3 Circulation-Vascular Laboratory, Dept. of Biodmedical Sciences, Chieti-Pescara University, Italy.