Curcumin Turmeric is an ancient spice, a native of South East Asia with India being the principal supplier of turmeric to the world market. Its use dates back nearly 4000 years to the Vedic culture in India where it was used as a culinary spice and had some religious significance. Turmeric has always been considered an auspicious material in the Indian sub-continent. Turmeric has been, and still is, used in traditional Indian, Chinese and Unani medicines for a range of conditions such as biliary disorders, diabetic wounds, hepatic disorders, rheumatic disorders, sprains and swellings caused by injury, and sinusitis. Modern medicine has substantiated many of these traditional uses and has identified the true potential for turmeric. The major active ingredients in turmeric are curcuminoids which normally vary from 1-6% in the dried rhizome. Curcuminoids comprise curcumin, demethoxy and bisdemethoxy curcumin. The second most active ingredient is the essential oil of turmeric which varies from 3-7% and is comprised of turmerones and aromatic turmerones. Produces Produces 100 kg of fresh turmeric rhizome 10 kg of dry turmeric 400 g curcumin (95%) extract Curcumin and its effects in the body Curcumin has been shown to modulate complex networks of both extracellular and intracellular signals that orchestrate cell-to-cell communication in diverse physiological processes that drive our bodily functions. Typically, extracellular signals are composed of growth factors, cytokines, chemokines, hormones and neurotransmitters that bind to specific cell surface receptors. These receptor-ligand interactions then generate various types of intracellular signals that ultimately lead to the activation of transcription factors that regulate the expression of specific sets of genes essential for diverse cellular functions. Thus, curcumin has shown therapeutic potential against metabolic, cardiovascular, neurodegenerative, pulmonary, autoimmune and neoplastic diseases. The exceptional activity of curcumin may arise, partly, from it being simultaneously an antioxidant and an anti-inflammatory agent. This is very important because oxidative stress and inflammation are intimately connected, one inducing the other. It is not a coincidence that these two conditions coexist in all chronic disease conditions. Unless both can be tackled simultaneously, no clinical benefit can accrue.
The challenge with curcumin supplementation Despite the remarkable benefits of curcumin, the major challenge of supplementation is poor oral bioavailability. The major reasons contributing to low plasma and tissue levels of curcumin appear to be due to poor absorption, rapid metabolism and rapid systemic elimination. Earlier clinical trials investigating the benefits of curcumin required large doses of up to 12 grams per day in order to supply sufficient levels into the blood stream. The improvement of curcumin bioavailability has become a major focus of researchers with many enhanced curcumin extracts now available which claim to solve the challenge of poor absorption. Key points to consider when selecting a curcumin supplement Only bioactive or free curcumin is active within the human body and provides the benefits we want. Many companies measure not only free curcumin but include in-actives such as curcumin metabolites when measuring bioavailability. Ensure you understand the claimed improvement in bioactive or free curcumin bioavailability. It is easy to be misled by simply choosing a product with the highest supposed bioavailability. Ensure that you understand the difference between bioactive/free curcumin and curcumin metabolites to make an informed decision. This information should be transparent and available to you from a manufacturer. 95% Standard curcumin 95% extracts offer a short active life of approximately 4-5 hours, resulting in users needing multiple doses per day. Ensure that you understand the active life of your supplement in order to compare and plan the required dosing schedule. Different products offer different active lives. Additional additives. In an attempt to improve bioavailability companies have combined curcumin with various substances, many of which may be questionable in a natural supplement or have potential consequences when used long term. Substances such as polysorbate 80 and Polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP) are not uncommon. Piperine has also been used in curcumin supplements, however there is a concern related to their long term use, with various studies indicating potential risk. Piperine has been noted to be a potent inhibitor of drug metabolism and may be contraindicated for those using various medications. Clinical evidence. A body of reputable evidence exists which can be used to substantiate or validate claims being made about a product or its benefits.