Curcumin – a pigment found in turmeric – is the main ingredient in curry and is responsible for its beautiful golden colour. Turmeric is a rhizome (or root) and a member of the ginger family that has been cultivated in India, China, and other tropical countries for its use in cooking for over a thousand years. As of July 2018, more than 12,000 articles have been published featuring curcumin and its many positive health benefits, here are our top three:
1. Antioxidant properties
Our bodies are subject to damage by free radicals on a regular basis. One of the ways that we can combat this is by taking antioxidants, which mop up the free radicals and keep us healthy.
There are many antioxidants that we can choose from, but curcumin is one of the best! Curcumin is particularly helpful in preventing LDL cholesterol from becoming oxidized and damaging arteries, which leads to atherosclerosis and heart disease.
2. Anti-inflammatory effects
Curcumin is a pleiotropic molecule, meaning that it exerts effects on many different parts of the body – in other words, it is not a one trick pony!
Curcumin excels at slowing inflammation that occurs if there are too many free radicals and we don’t have enough antioxidants to keep up. It can swoop in, quell the inflammatory environment, and put a stop to additional damage.
Sometimes we don’t know we have underlying inflammation – this is called “silent” inflammation and can take years to manifest problems physically. Taking curcumin daily is a good way to help prevent inflammation from occurring in the first place.
3. Helps with the impacts of stress
One of the most important actions of curcumin is the inhibition of a molecule called “nuclear factor kappa-light-chain-enhancer of activated B cells”, or NFkB for short. NFkB can be turned on by a number of situations in our daily life, like stress, inflammation, and infection. As the body “senses” more stress it starts to overproduce NFkB. This overproduction has been linked to cancer, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, neurodegenerative diseases, and chronic viral infections. A large part of scientific literature is dedicated to the inhibition of NFkB by curcumin, labeling it as one of the most promising natural medicines of the future!
What to look for
Curcumin can be difficult to absorb from the gut, so scientists have discovered that covering it in fat, or making the bits of curcumin smaller, can help our bodies absorb more of this natural medicine.
There are two different types of curcumin that have the best science to back them up: Meriva® (which is emulsified in fat called a “liposome”) and Theracurmin™ (which has a nano-particle-like size to it). Both are equally good and will go a long way to reduce tissue damage caused by inflammation, improve liver function, increase the ability of the heart to function efficiently, and even improve quality-of-life scores in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.
Like most natural medicines, curcumin works best when paired with other antioxidants and anti-inflammatories such as Omega-3, Boswellia, Serrapeptase, Devil’s Claw, and Milk Thistle.
Always remember – if you are taking other medications or supplements to check with your health care professional before initiating any new natural medicines.