Guide to Curcumin - Benefits, Dosage, Side Effects

Guide to Curcumin - Benefits, Dosage, Side Effects

In today’s world, people are looking more and more into all-natural, holistic remedies to address their daily problems. Whether it be something as simple as eliminating a throbbing headache, easing joint aches and pains, or accelerating recovery from exercise, the all-natural way is the way to go for many individuals.

One of the most popular supplements these days is curcumin. It’s touted as a universal panacea and health support supplement that can improve everything from gut health to joint pain and even cognitive function.

Related - 10 Turmeric Benefits - Remarkably Better Than Prescription Drugs?

But what is it?

Is there any solid backing to the claims and perceived benefits of curcumin, or is it just more holistic hocus pocus you’ve seen advertised before.

Let’s find out!

What is Curcumin?

Curcumin is the primary compound found in turmeric (curcuma longa), a fundamental spice in Indian cooking. Not only is turmeric known for its distinctive flavor, it’s also received a lot of attention recently for its pro-health benefits.

Turmeric contains a collection of compounds known as curcuminoids, and curcumin accounts for approximately 3% of the weight in commercially available curry spice blends. [1] So, if you were planning to start scarfing down turmeric powders and curry blends by the glass full, you might want to hold off, as they aren’t particularly “rich” in curcumin.

Curcuminoids can also be found in ginger, another pungent spice, as well. [2] While curcumin is the most well known (and plentiful) of the curcuminoid family, it’s only one of four phytochemicals in the group.

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The other members of the curcuminoid family are:

  • Desmethoxycurcumin
  • Bisdemethoxycurcumin
  • Cyclocurcumin

Benefits of Curcumin

Curcumin is a truly fascinating polyphenol, well-documented for its wealth of anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, anti-proliferative and anti-microbial activities. Now let’s take a deeper look at these benefits and see why you should consider adding it to your supplement regimen.

Reduces Joint Pain

Far and away, the most popular use for curcumin is in the treatment of joint aches and pains. The reason curcumin is so prevalently used for improving joint health is due to its strong anti-inflammatory activity in the body.

Curcumin inhibits cyclooxygenase (COX) enzymes similar to the manner in which non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as Ibuprofen, function. More specifically, curcumin preferentially inhibits the COX-2 enzyme, as opposed to COX-1. [3] It is possible to inhibit both COX enzymes (as is the case with NSAIDs), but that can often lead to GI distress, due to stomach ulcers.

Curcumin also inhibits lipoxygenase (LOX), making it more potent and easier/safer on your body. [4][5]

Why is this good?

Inhibiting or suppressing the actions of these enzymes, prevent anti-inflammatory molecules from becoming inflammatory ones. The next question on your mind most likely is:

What is Inflammation and Why is Inflammation Bad?

Before we go any further, it’s important to note that inflammation in and of itself is not bad. Inflammation simply refers to the actions of the immune system, the system of the body that protects against illness and infection from all sorts of microscopic “bad guys.”

Inflammation is also part of the muscle recovery and growth process. Basically, any sort of repairing, strengthening, growing, or protecting is related to inflammation. It’s essential and incredibly beneficial in the right amounts. But left unchecked, systemic and chronic inflammation can lead to a host of diseases, including arthritis.

When it comes to inflammation, it’s all about balance. Some is good, too much is bad, and too little is also bad as it opens you up to potential illness from parasites, bacteria, etc.

When discussing inflammation and how it relates to arthritis, it essentially boils down to the fact that your body’s immune system starts attacking its own tissues instead of bacteria, parasites, or viruses, which can cause pain, stiffness, swelling, and joint damage. [6]

So, back to curcumin and its anti-inflammatory activity...

Curcumin decreases a host of inflammatory markers including various interleukines (IL-1, IL-6, IL-8, IL-10) as well as tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-a). [7][8] It also can inhibit mast cells and decreases diamine oxidase (DAO), which can elevate histamine (another inflammatory compound) levels. [9][10]

In fact, curcumin is such a powerful anti-inflammatory, it’s been shown to be stronger than ibuprofen and aspirin, and has even been compared to prescribed corticosteroids in the treatment of inflammatory diseases. [11][12][13]

Supports Cognitive Function

Curcumin isn’t just good for your joints, it’s also good for your brain, too! It increases levels of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA -- one of the fats found in fish oil), by increasing levels of the enzymes involved in DHA synthesis. The reason this is such a big deal, is that even fish oil supplements typically don’t increase brain levels of DHA. [14]

But that’s not all, curcumin is also neuroprotective, as shown in various trials where curcumin has:

  • Defends against cell death in brain injuries [15]
  • Improves neurological function in patients with brain hemorrhages [16]
  • Inhibits cell death (apoptosis) and neuron loss following spinal cord injury [17]
  • Combats cognitive impairment induced by traumatic brain injury [18]
  • Reduces oxidative damage [18]
  • Normalizes levels of Synapsin I, brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), and CAMP responsive element binding protein 1 (CREB) [18]

Other animal models have shown the potent compound can prevent memory loss, restore optimal glutathione (a powerful antioxidant) levels, and return insulin receptor protein levels to normal range. These effects may be due in large part to curcumin’s ability to inhibit glycogen synthase kinase 3 beta (GSK3b) -- an enzyme associated with brain function, mood, and inflammation. [19]

The Curcumin-Alzheimer’s Connection

Studies using bioavailable curcumin (typically curcumin + piperine) have shown it leads to neurogenesis (creation of new brain cells) and reverses the cognitive decline present in patients with Alzheimer’s. Specifically, curcumin stimulates adult hippocampal and developmental neurogenesis as well as neural plasticity and repair. [20] It also improves memory and learning in adults via increasing brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). [21]

Additionally, curcumin also reduce amyloid plaque and protects against quinolinic acid-induced neurodegeneration (brain cell break down), which is brought on by inflammation and stress. [22][23]

Combats Metabolic Syndrome

Metabolic syndrome is a medical condition characterized by a group of health markers including:

  • High blood pressure
  • High blood sugar
  • Excess body fat (especially around the waist)
  • Elevated cholesterol or triglyceride levels

When combined, these conditions increase your risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and diabetes. More often than not, metabolic syndrome is brought on by an inactive, unhealthy lifestyle, and it’s characterized by chronic inflammation and oxidation in the body. Since curcumin is such a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, it’s believed that it may be beneficial in combating the tell-tale markers of metabolic syndrome.

And it just so happens to be that research does confirm this line of thinking.

Curcumin reduces blood levels of inflammatory markers while increasing levels of anti-inflammatory ones. [24][25] It also reduces lipid levels and blood sugar levels of individuals with metabolic syndrome, and helps weight loss. [26][27] Curcumin doesn’t just lower blood sugar levels, in improves muscular insulin resistance and prevents insulin resistance and obesity. [37][38]

A recent meta-analysis investigated the effects of bioavailable curcumin on metabolic syndrome, and concluded that it “improves oxidative and inflammatory status.” [28] Researchers also added, “Curcuminoids could be regarded as natural, safe and effective CRP-lowering agents.” [28] FYI, CRP stands for C-reactive protein, a key blood marker and hallmark sign of inflammation.

Could curcumin be the crucial ingredient to fighting type 2 diabetes, obesity, and the other assorted metabolic issues plaguing those with metabolic syndrome? That can’t be conclusively determined yet, but these results are incredibly promising, to say the least.

Improves Gut Health

Curcumin can also improve gut health and function by stimulating bile release from the gallbladder. [29] FYI, the gut is often called “the second” brain of the body.

But that’s not all, curcumin also can help prevent the formation of stomach ulcers by inhibiting pepsin activity and stomach acid secretion. In case you weren’t aware, pepsin is a digestive enzyme that breaks down proteins. [30][31]

Reduces Stress & Combats Depression

Prescription antidepressants such as imipramine (Tofranil) protect BDNF stores in the body and promote hippocampal neurogenesis. As we’ve already mentioned, curcumin can have the exact same effects in the body.

Animal models have shown that curcumin elicits antidepressant-like effects and enhances the effects of SSRIs (Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) and a recent meta-analysis showed it reduced depressive symptoms in patients. [32][33][34] These actions may due in part to curcumin’s interaction with the 5HT2C receptor, a receptor that binds endogenous serotonin.

Curcumin can also reduce stress levels by lowering cortisol levels and enhancing cortisol sensitivity. [35] Even in healthy individuals, curcumin was able to improve memory, attention, and mood. [36]

Fights Cancer

Curcumin and the Big C - Cancer. It’s a hideous disease that robs millions of people of their lives around the globe. Volumes of research have been conducted to determine what effect, if any, curcumin supplementation can have on cancer and tumor cell growth.

Various trials have shown that curcumin administration reduces new blood vessel growth in tumors and induces programmed cell death in human malignant: [39]

  • Brain cancer (glioblastoma) cells [40]
  • T-cell lymphoma cells [41]
  • Bone cells [42]
  • Oral cancer cells [43]
  • Melanoma cancer cells [44]

Curcumin’s battle with cancer doesn’t end there though, it’s also toxic to cancer cell mitochondria (the “nuclear reactor” that supplies energy to each cell). [45]

Curcumin Dose

Curcumin has been used at various doses in the litany of clinical trials and research studies that have been conducted. Typically, individuals looking using a curcumin supplement, or a more comprehensive supplement that includes the compound, find it dosed anywhere between 80-500mg.

Any Side Effects?

Overall, curcumin appears to be relatively free of any serious side effects. Human studies have shown it has been consumed up to 10 grams per day without any side effect. [46] The only minor symptom that has been mentioned in a handful of studies is minor gastrointestinal upset.

The Problem with Curcumin Supplements

Curcumin seems like pretty incredible stuff, so much so that you’re probably willing to shell out a few bucks on a curcumin supplement and see just how powerful it can be for you. But there’s a problem with nearly all curcumin supplements - it has horrendous bioavailability.

In other words, the curcumin supplement you just purchased is most likely going to be degraded and excreted without you getting any notable or observable benefit from it. You see, curcumin is fat-soluble and hydrophobic, which means in aqueous environments (i.e. your stomach) it’s not really well absorbed.

However, there has been a breakthrough in the land of curcumin supplementation that enhances the bioavailability of the compound tremendously, ensuring you get maximum benefit from this incredibly powerful compound.

HydroCurc - The Best Form of Curcumin?

HydroCurc by HydroCurc™ is a cold water dispersible Curcuma longa extract powder, specifically designed to enhance bioavailability of free curcuminoids. This novel form of curcumin utilizes LipiSperse™ delivery technology, which is a lipid-based delivery system specifically designed to increase the dispersion of crystalline lipophilic (fat-soluble) agents in aqueous environments. Attached a ring of lipids (fats) to curcumin lowers surface tension, thereby improving its ability to adhere to particles.

Plain and simple, HydroCurc allows your body to easily absorb curcumin by improving its ability to dissolve in watery environments. Studies using HydroCurc have found it supplies over 80% active curcuminoids - 9x more effective absorption than regular turmeric or curcumin extracts!

Where to Find HydroCurc?

Ambrosia Golden is one of the first supplements to market using the game-changing form of curcumin. Golden is your daily turmeric supplement that supplies 900mg HydroCurc, delivering 765mg of active curcuminoids to your body. Also included in 100% of the RDA of Vitamin C, for extra antioxidant protection and defense.

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Damon Harrison - April 19, 2018

Very interesting.

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