Curcumin — Good for Body and Mind

Curcumin + other spices in bowlsHave you been hearing the buzz about tumeric and curcumin lately? Why all the excitement and what are they?

Turmeric is a rhizomatous herbaceous perennial plant (Curcuma longa) and a member of the ginger family, native to southern Asia. Ongoing research has offered very promising results showing curcumin’s wide-ranging healing powers in a variety of health issues.

Here are some of the reasons why it might be a great addition to your health protocol:

1. Powerful Medicinal Properties

What is tumeric? It’s the spice that gives curry its yellow color and has been used in India for thousands of years as both a spice and medicinal herb. Recently, science has started to confirm what Indians have known for a long time… it really does contain compounds with medicinal properties.

These compounds are called curcuminoids, the most important of which is curcumin.

Curcumin is the main active ingredient in turmeric, possessing potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

The challenge is that the curcumin content of turmeric is not very high. Only around 3% by weight. Most of the studies use turmeric extracts that contain mostly curcumin itself, with dosages usually greater than 1 gram per day. It would be very difficult to reach these levels just using the turmeric spice in your foods.

This means to experience the therapeutic benefits, you need to take it in a supplement containing significant amounts of curcumin. More about this later. Curcumin is fat soluble and poorly absorbed into the bloodstream, so it helps to take it with a fatty meal.

In Summary: Turmeric contains curcumin, a substance with powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Most studies used turmeric extracts that are standardized to include large amounts of curcumin.

2. Natural Anti-Inflammatory Compound

Another buzz word we hear in the health and wellness world today is inflammation.

Inflammation is important because it helps the body fight foreign invaders and also plays a role in repairing oxidative damage. Without inflammation, pathogens like bacteria could easily take over and harm us.

Although acute, short-term inflammation is beneficial, it can become a major problem when it becomes chronic or long-term and inappropriately directed against the body’s own tissues.

All the latest research shows that chronic, low-level inflammation plays a major role in almost every chronic, Western disease, including heart disease, cancer, metabolic syndrome, Alzheimer’s and the majority of degenerative conditions.

I wrote about this in Health is Truly a Matter of Choices, as it’s predicted that by 2020, chronic degenerative diseases are expected to rise to 73% of all deaths and 60% of the global burden of disease!

Anything that helps fight chronic inflammation offers potential in preventing and even treating these diseases. Right? Curcumin to the rescue! It actually targets multiple steps in the inflammatory pathway, fighting inflammation at the molecular level.

It turns out that curcumin is strongly anti-inflammatory and so powerful that it matches the effectiveness of some anti-inflammatory pharmaceutical drugs…without the side effects.

In summary: Chronic inflammation is known to be a contributor to many common Western diseases and curcumin can inhibit inflammatory processes.

3. Curcumin Increases The Body’s Antioxidant Capacity

Oxidative damage from free radicals is believed to be one of the mechanisms behind aging and many diseases. Free radicals tend to react with important organic substances, such as fatty acids, proteins or DNA. Antioxidants are beneficial because they protect our bodies from free radicals.

Antioxidants are like superheroes, the compounds which can inhibit oxidation in both the body and in foods.

In summary: Curcumin is a potent antioxidant, capable of neutralizing free radicals, while also boosting the activity of the body’s own antioxidant enzymes.Curcumin_chopped

4. Brain Health

Years ago the belief was that after early childhood, neurons weren’t able to divide and multiply. We now know that they can. Neurons are capable of forming new connections, but in certain areas of the brain, they can also multiply and increase in number.

A prominent driver of this process is Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), which is a type of growth hormone that functions in the brain. Many common brain disorders have been linked to decreased levels of this hormone, including depression and Alzheimer’s disease.

Where does curumin come in? Interestingly, curcumin can increase brain levels of BDNF, and may be effective at delaying or even reversing many brain diseases and age-related decreases in brain function.

Although more testing is needed, it’s possible that curcumin could also help improve memory and make you smarter.

In Summary: Curcumin boosts levels of the brain hormone BDNF, which increases the growth of new neurons and fights various degenerative processes in the brain.

5. Curcumin and Alzheimer’s Disease

Following on from the above, Alzheimer’s disease is the most common neurodegenerative disease in the world and a leading cause of dementia. Unfortunately, there’s no reliable treatment available for Alzheimer’s yet.

Preventing it from showing up in the first place is crucial. There may be good news on the horizon, because curcumin has been shown to cross the blood-brain barrier.

Inflammation and oxidative damage play a role in Alzheimer’s disease, and as we now know, curcumin has beneficial effects on both.

Another key feature of Alzheimer’s disease is a buildup of protein tangles called Amyloid plaques. Curcumin has the ability to clear the amyloid plaques and slow down the development of the disease.

In Summary: Curcumin can cross the blood-brain barrier and has been shown to lead to various improvements in the developmental process of Alzheimer’s disease. More study is needed.

6. Heart Disease

Heart_healthy_curcuminThere is little surprise that heart disease is the biggest killer of both men and women today. Decades of study have continued to explore why it happens and how incredibly complicated it is. Studies have shown that curcumin may help reverse many steps in the heart disease process.

Several studies suggest that curcumin leads to improvements in endothelial function, the lining of the blood vessels. One study shows that it is as effective as exercise, another shows that it works as well as the drug Atorvastatin.

As mentioned, curcumin also reduces inflammation and oxidation, both known contributors to heart disease. In a study of 121 patients, those taking 4 grams of curcumin a few days before and after bypass surgery, had a 65% decreased risk of experiencing heart attack in the hospital.

In Summary:  Curcumin has beneficial effects on several factors known to play a role in heart disease. It improves the function of the endothelium and is a potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant agent.

7. Cancer

There are many different forms of cancer, yet all tumors share things in common. Curcumin has been proven to greatly decrease the growth and development of cancer cells, affecting cancer growth, development and spread at the molecular level.

Multiple studies have shown that curcumin can reduce the growth of cancerous cells in the laboratory and inhibit the growth of tumours in test animals, although more study is needed on humans.

What’s amazing is there’s even some evidence that it may help prevent cancer from occurring in the first place. Especially cancers of the digestive system, like colorectal cancer.

In Summary: Curcumin leads to several changes on the molecular level that may help prevent and perhaps even treat cancer in the future.

8. Curcumin and Arthritis

Arthritis is a common problem in Western countries. Although there are several types, most involve some sort of inflammation in the joints.

As discussed, curcumin is a potent anti-inflammatory, so it makes sense that it could help with arthritis.

In a study of patients with rheumatoid arthritis, curcumin was shown even more effective than an anti-inflammatory drug. Many other studies have looked at the effects of curcumin on arthritis, showing improvements in various symptoms.

What does this mean? If you have arthritis and prefer a natural approach, curcumin might be worth trying.

In Summary: Arthritis is a common disorder characterized by joint inflammation. Many studies show that curcumin can help treat symptoms of arthritis. In some cases, it’s proven more effective than anti-inflammatory drugs.

9. Curcumin and Depression

Curcumin and a sad girl
A recent article I read tweaked my interest. It reported that Curcumin has promise in treating depression, which seems pervasive in society today.

Curcumin is as effective as an antidepressant, according to one small study.

It’s well-known that depression is linked to reduced levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BNDF) and a shrinking hippocampus, a brain area with a role in learning and memory. As curcumin boosts BNDF levels, it can potentially reverse some of these changes.

There’s also some evidence that curcumin can boost the brain neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine.

One 2015 study of 108 patients investigated the supplementation of 2,000 mg curcumin daily for six weeks alongside antidepressant therapy. Researchers found there was a significant reduction in depressive symptoms, along with improvements in brain chemistry parameters as well!

In Summary: Studies show that in depressed patients, curcumin is as effective as antidepressant therapy in alleviating the symptoms of depression.

10. Curcumin and Aging

Makes sense that if curcumin can really help prevent heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s, then this would have obvious benefits for longevity. Right?

Curcumin has become a popular anti-aging supplement, as a result. With its proven impact on oxidation and inflammation, (both playing a role in aging), perhaps curcumin has positive effects beyond just disease prevention.

Curcumin and You

Something important to note. Not all curcumin supplements are created equal. Only a few types of curcumin are well absorbed by the body. Meriva curcumin, (used in all USANA products), is a unique curcumin extract that is significantly better absorbed than other curcumin extracts. The other is BCM-95.

So what do you think? Is curcumin something you’ll consider adding to your health and wellness protocol?

As a health and vitality consultant, I’m here to support you in optimizing your health and wellbeing. If you’re ready to create a customized wellness protocol, let’s talk! Start with the True Health Assessment and its personalized three-part report that answers the question, How Healthy Are You?  If you see how Curcumin would benefit you and your health, I’d love to share some outstanding products with you!

Beverley Golden

About Beverley Golden

Beverley Golden is a writer, storyteller, peacenik and health & vitality consultant, who loves testing unconventional ways to shift paradigms in the playing fields of health and wellness, storytelling and creativity as a path to world peace. Her passion is turning the “impossible” into the possible, using her own experiences with a lifetime of health issues, to inspire and support others to live their life to the fullest.

You're invited to a Complimentary Health Consultation, starting with the True Health Assessment that offers a customized personalized snapshot of how healthy you are in the areas of lifestyle, heredity and nutrition. Contact me to get started!

48 Comments

  • Great article! I’ve been a fan of turmeric for quite some time now. Turmeric supplements are a great way to enjoy the health benefits of this spice and its active ingredient curcumin, but it’s important to read and understand the label because they can be quite misleading at times. In some supplements the percentage of curcumin is lower than in others, for example. Most supplements typically also contain black pepper extract to help with bio-availability because the curcumin by itself is hard to absorb. I love experimenting with herbs and spices, they can be so beneficial to our health.

    • Thanks for stopping by, reading and commenting, Donna! I completely agree about the potency of curcumin or tumeric capsules. Unfortunately for the curcumin to be beneficial, it needs to be in a therapeutic dose and most supplements are not offering that. Sprinkling some numeric on food isn’t offering a large enough dose either. I have read that black pepper does help the curcumin absorb and I also know that Meriva Curcumin is highly bioavailable, which is why USANA uses that in it’s joint formula Procosa. Appreciate your input, as there is so much info available, sometimes we have to be proactive and do our own research to find what are the best options for ourselves!

  • Robin says:

    I’ve never tried cooking with tumeric, Beverley. I am going to have to try a few recipes that incorporate it. What an amazing list of benefits!

    • Thanks for reading and happy you appreciated the incredible list of benefits that tumeric and curcumin offer, Robin! Its wonderful to add to your cooking and then it you need a therapeutic dose, there are many bioavailable supplements to consider too!

  • Suzie Cheel says:

    I love this Beverley as I have my morning lemon and tumeric morning heart starter 🙂 that was recommened to me fr building up my immune system and I love a tumeric latte on coconut milk – sharing this as it has so many more benefits Thank you xxx

    • It’s wonderful to hear that you include tumeric in your morning heart starter and as a potent anti-oxidant, yes it is wonderful for immune support! As I mention in the piece and in answering comments here, for optimal effects, its important to also take it as a bioavailable supplement to get a therapeutic dose! 🙂 xo

  • Oh my talk about great timing! I’ve been having problems with my left knee all week – the result of an injury from hula. Short term, 3 months of physical therapy saved me from surgery, but long-term it’s come back to haunt me with joint and inflammation problems. I am definitely going to look into these, particularly curcumin. Thanks Beverley!

    • So happy this post came at a perfect time for you Marquita! There is a lot of research on the efficacy of curcumin for knee and joint injuries and my hope is the info I sent you might resonate with you, so that your knee will not be troublesome in the future. As a potent anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant, I can see how a therapeutic supplement of curcumin could indeed help! All the best!

  • I love Curcumin… also know as turmeric. Growing up in India this is the base of anything they cook . . I never saw it as a health benefit until only recently as it was so part of my every day life.. Your article clearly indicates so many of its goodness in such detail. I recently started having curcumin drink in the mornings and it is great in digestion and gut health. Thank you for this indepth review

    • Thanks for sharing your experiences with numeric and curcumin, Jonita! I know that it is an integral part of Indian cooking and was also introduced to it long ago by my brother who has studied Indian music and culture. I know that many people are including it in cooking and in drinks, as you mention, which is a great addition to a healthy diet. Therapeutic doses are a lot higher if one is treating a serious illness.

  • Tumeric is an essential ingredient in Indian or at least North-Indian cooking so I do get a healthy daily dose of it, Beverley. It’s properties have been known to the ancients and indoctrinated in the Ayurveda system. I’m glad it’s getting attention again in a day and age when allopathic medicines appear to be the instant gratification option when using this spice in our food or even for topical application can give us those same benefits without side effects.

    • So happy you got to read this post, Vatsala, as I knew you would resonate and be familiar with numeric and its healing benefits. And yes, its properties have been known for centuries, so I am delighted we are embracing it now in Western cultures. The key of course if to make sure the dose you are getting is a therapeutic dose, as just using a sprinkling in food or drinks, although good, won’t afford the optimal benefits!

  • This is one of my favorite supplements, Bev! I can absolutely vouch for its anti-inflammatory properties. I take it daily, and when I don’t, my hip tells me about it! It’s also my first line of defense for the dogs when they pull something, etc. It works great for them too!
    Susan Mary Malone recently posted…Disclaimer! This Is Not A Religious PostMy Profile

    • Thanks for your testimonial for curcumin, Susan! I have also been a big supporter of it for many years for my own health. I am curious how much you give your dogs, as I would love to use curcumin as a resource for our dog too! I already give him Visionex, Proflavanol C and BiOmega. I’m always looking for natural ways to keep him as healthy as possible!

  • Joyce Hansen says:

    An excellent review of curcumin, Beverley. Most people only think of it as a spice and not as a natural medicinal. As with most things that the public begins to demand, suppliers tend to adulterate to make more money. So, it’s always important that if you are going to get its true benefits that you have access to organic sources that are bioavailable. Thanks for being a promoter of healthy resources.
    Joyce Hansen recently posted…How to benefit from a priority to-do-listMy Profile

    • Thanks for your understanding and support, Joyce! Yes, it is amazing what happens when something becomes popular…how the market forces drive the way it is offered to the public. As someone who supports all things organic, I stand for sharing the highest quality. That is one of the main reasons that I am so happy to share resources that have integrity.

  • Reba Linker says:

    Yay Turmeric – I use it all the time and it is great to know it has all these health benefits. Great post Beverley. I love knowing about natural ways to boost our health – especially a way that has so many and diverse positive benefits. It is so sad when people feel that they have no options other than chemical medicines, especially when many of those come at a steep price in terms of side effects.

    • Thanks so much Reba! I love sharing ways to use natural ways to boost health and well being and the more research I do on Curcumin, the more I see how supportive it is for overall health and vitality. I agree that it is sad when people feel that their only options are medicines, as so often although they help one thing, they create new health issues to be concerned about. Appreciate your understanding of this too!

  • This is completely in line with what my cardiologist has recommended for me. I’m on a special anti-inflammatory diet because I have microvessel disease, and cooking with turmeric is a regular part of my cooking routine. I’ll have to pay attntion to how much I’m using. I’m heavy handed with it (and really love it mixed with ginger and black pepper) so I know I probably get more than what most recipes call for, but I’m sure it’s not enough.
    Jennifer Quisenberry recently posted…March Madness TriviaMy Profile

    • Cooking with numeric is good, Jennifer, although I also am not sure, no matter how much you use, whether you are getting enough for it to be therapeutic. Coupling it with black pepper is good, I’ve read as it helps it absorb. It sounds like you are on a good protocol to stay healthy and to make sure you are keeping on an anti-inflammatory protocol. That will help your heart and the rest of you too. 🙂

  • If there is anything I love about your blogs, It is the lots of vital information I get from it. I do take daily supplements, but this is entirely new to me. Do you know of Ganoderma and how can you compare it to Curcumin? I am curious to know which of them is more efficient since I am more versed with it.
    Apolline Adiju recently posted…4 Types Of Killer Subject Headlines For Effective Email MarketingMy Profile

    • Thanks so much Apolline! I really appreciate hearing that you learn from my blogs. As far as Ganoderma, I can only say that USANA is a research company and contributes to may of the important studies, and they have chosen to use Reishi and Shiitake mushrooms in our newest product…along with Curcumin in the InCelligence complex. Although that doesn’t answer your question directly, hopefully it gives you a point of reference to get an idea of Curcumin compared to Ganoderma. I would be happy to send you more info if that would be helpful to you!

  • Wow, so informational and beneficial how Curcumin is to our health and bodies 🙂 Thank you Beverley for sharing!! So important to know! I will have to incorporate it into my diet more 🙂

    • It is pretty incredible to think that Curcumin is so beneficial to a wide range of ailments, Joan! After doing this research, I honestly see how it could benefit…almost everyone! 🙂

  • This …>>>>>>> it’s predicted that by 2020, chronic degenerative diseases are expected to rise to 73% of all deaths and 60% of the global burden of disease!” <<<<<< We know that most diseases are related to inflammation. As a 4 time cancer thriver, I am always interested in products that will prevent did-ease. Please share more information with me about this, Beverley. Thanks!
    Tandy Elisala recently posted…52 Weeks of Happiness: Week Five-My Best Life Decisions To DateMy Profile

    • So happy you saw that staggering statistic, Tandy! If people truly understood that inflammation is at the root of all chronic degenerative diseases, hopefully they would make some simple choices, like adding curcumin products to their diet, to prevent them. This is something I am passionate about considering how dire the predictions are. Congrats on being a 4 time cancer survivor and I know you are highly conscious of your health and products that could prevent and protect, so hopefully there will be something that resonates with you from he info I sent!

  • Kimberly says:

    Awesome article! I make “golden milk” in the evenings before bed during the week for my husband and me – coconut milk, turmeric, honey, coconut oil, cayenne pepper, ginger and a little cinnamon heated -it is delicious!
    I also take turmeric capsules instead of ale every or Tylenol. It’s great stuff!
    Kimberly recently posted…What Makes A Woman BeautifulMy Profile

    • Thanks Kimberly! I have been hearing a lot about ‘golden milk’ and am happy to hear you’ve been adding that to your evening routine. It actually sounds delicious, as well as having such healing and soothing properties. The more I am researching curcumin, the more I see that it truly is worth trying for such a wide array of ailments and also as a preventative to keep health issues at bay! Thanks for sharing your experiences!

  • Anne says:

    I did a lot of research on curcumin after I lost my father to cancer. I wanted to know everything about how to prevent cancer naturally! From what I’ve read including your article, there are so many amazing properties and uses for it.

    • I agree with you about the amazing anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits of curcumin, Anne. Happy that your research and some of what I shared coincided too! Hopefully more people will find it and find healing from it.

  • Hi Beverley,

    This is a great write up. My mother can sing the praises for curcumin. She was experiencing shoulder discomfort and issues with mobility in her arm for a long time. I happened to be picking up my supplements at the health food store and saw curcumin on the shelf so did a bit of research on it and purchased for my mother. She took the curcumin supplement and it had her feeling back to normal within a few days. She now tells everyone she knows with aches and pains to get this product.
    Rachel Lavern recently posted…Women are AmazingMy Profile

    • Love this testimonial compliments of your mother, Rachel! Although I’ve known about its benefits for a long time, I was honestly still surprised at the incredible width of ailments it helps. There are even a few, like liver and diabetes, that I didn’t mention. Why I love it so much, is that it is a simple way to address health issues in a natural and holistic way. Thanks for sharing!

  • Lisa Swanson says:

    Definitely worth a try. My only hesitation is that is it meant to cure SO many different problems, it makes me wonder about it’s effectiveness, That’s a lot of cures for one item.

    Do you take Curcumin diary? And what benefits have you noticed?

    • The reason it benefits such a wide-range of health issues, Lisa, is because of its powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. We all know now that most diseases are a result of inflammation so stopping it in its tracks goes a long way to healing it. Of course many other factors come into play too.

      Yes, most of the USANA products I take do have Meriva curcumin in them, especially the products that now have the InCelligence complex which is an antioxidant boosting complex of which curcumin is a part. Happy to share more info if you’d like.

  • Alzheimer’s is such a cruel disease. Anything that can possibly help is worth adding to your nutrition plan. My daughter loves to make face masks out of this already. It does stain the washcloths though.
    Christy Soukhamneut recently posted…Pearly’s New Pad – Picking The LoanMy Profile

    • I agree with you Christy and more and more people seem to be suffering from it. It is amazing how much new research there is on almost every ailment and I am of the mind and belief that it is always worth trying something that might help, and won’t hurt. Thanks for the tip about the face mask, as I would never have thought of it. And yes, curcumin and numeric are messy and do stain, which is why taking it in a capsule, is so much easier!

  • Lori English says:

    Beverley,
    This is great article about the properties of Curcumin and how it helps with inflammation. I know there are a lot of other types of antiimflammatory agents out there, but trying this may be beneficial for artritis. I am going to further research this and really think trying something besides traditional medicine can benefit. I am not saying that I dont use western meds, if I have to , but I am open to new possibilities.

    Lori English

    • It’s always good to stay open to something that might help you, that you know won’t do any harm, Lori! And yes, because of cur cumin’s anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant benefits it has many benefits for a wide range of ailments. Maybe starting it in conjunction with your other therapies is a place to begin! Keep me posted too!

  • I have been reading more about this one and adding a dash of organic turmeric to my morning hot lemon water. The health benefits are mind blowing!

    • Curcumin is finally getting the well-deserved spotlight shone on it, April, and it truly does have a multitude of benefits. One think to mention again is that a dash of it although a good idea, the therapeutic benefits come from a concentrated dose, as curcumin on its own isn’t very well-absorbed and is needed in large concentrations.

  • Wow Bev… such detail and research and I absolutely love your passion… I’ll need to come back to this later as well… to research it more and see how I can add it into my diet. Well done!
    Kristen Wilson recently posted…Don’t Be a Social Media Salesman!My Profile

    • Once a researcher, always a researcher, Kristen. 🙂 Yes, if I can help others with their health and vitality, I am happy to share. If I can offer anymore info for you, let me know when you are ready.

  • Meghan Monaghan says:

    I first learned of curcumin’s anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory properties when our dogs’ oncologist told us about it. More recently, a close friend with cancer considered using it. However, as you pointed out, the dosage had to be significant, so he changed his mind. (He did use other herbs to extend his life several years though.) I’m a huge believer in herbs and food as medicine, so I’m thankful to read about all of the amazing things curcumin does that I didn’t know about! I’ve considered incorporating curcumin into my diet as an alternative to NSAIDs but haven’t made the switch yet. Awesome info!

    • That’s interesting that a dog doctor is also recommending curcumin, Meghan. It is in many of the products I take from USANA and I knew how amazing it was because of its anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant benefits. The list of ailments it helps is even longer than what I shared. Including diabetes and liver plus weight. It’s wonderful that you are considering adding it, as I saw someone on twitter gave an unsolicited testimonial about it too! Keep me posted how it works for you.

  • Tamuria says:

    I am so going to buy a curcumin supplement today! I’m glad you pointed out they are not all created equal and what to look out for. I have a friend who is recovering from breast cancer and she takes a curcumin supplement every day. Amazing to know it can be so helpful for the heart and brain, as well as arthritis and ageing. What an amazing list of benefits. Thank you so much for researching and sharing this, Beverley.
    Tamuria recently posted…PLAYING WITH PATTERNS IN NATUREMy Profile

    • Thanks for your suggestion to do more research on Curcumin, Tami. I have been using it because it is in many of my USANA supplements and know it is also amazing for the liver and even diabetes. There were so many ailments it helps, primarily because of its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties! Look forward to hearing your results from adding it to your health protocol and yes, please make sure you are buying one that is a therapeutic assimilable dose!

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