Article by: Dr. Kate Rheaume-Bleue, N.D
Curcumin is the yellow pigment found in turmeric (Curcuma longa). Turmeric is a member of the ginger family and is a principal spice used in Indian cuisine. In India, turmeric root has been used for thousands of years in traditional Ayurvedic medicine, and modern science confirms that turmeric’s main constituent curcumin exerts many health benefits.
Health research around curcumin’s benefits is growing and continually shows that it is highly pleiotropic, meaning it exerts multiple actions. First and foremost, curcumin is an excellent natural anti-inflammatory agent. This explains why individuals supplement with curcumin for relief from arthritis and other painful conditions. Curcumin is also an excellent antioxidant, fighting the free radicals that play a role in heart and cognitive health.
One of the body’s primary responses to any challenge is inflammation. If inflammation is out of control, it affects the structure and function of individual cells in the body. Since inflammation is at the core of many health concerns, curcumin holds great promise in many health applications.
Many of curcumin’s other beneficial effects are attributed to its ability to act as an antioxidant and help support balance in certain cellular functions. Double-blind clinical studies on curcumin demonstrate benefits for liver health, periodontal health, muscle and joint health, vascular health, heart health, and global quality of life scores.
Curcumin can be obtained through diet by cooking with turmeric; however the body cannot fully utilize it in this form. Therefore, simply adding turmeric to your food does not offer much therapeutic benefit. The reason is that curcumin is relatively insoluble in water and is rapidly transformed and excreted from the body. Scientific investigations and health care practitioners use special forms of curcumin to achieve consistent clinical results. Fortunately professional grade curcumin products are available in health food stores.
When it comes to shopping for curcumin products, there are some specific things to be aware of. Curcumin products vary widely in their absorbability. Professional grade curcumin products which are widely used in clinical trials, use a form of curcumin that has been altered to enhance absorption. Such enhancements may include grinding and reducing the curcumin particle size, and binding the particles with complimentary substances that help with absorption. This leads to optimal absorption, therapeutic blood levels, and consistent results.
Shopping for the right type of curcumin does not have to be difficult. It is important to read labels to make sure you are buying a superior product. If you are unsure, knowledgeable staff at your health food store can help you pick a product with the best therapeutic benefits.
This column is sponsored by Good 'n' Natural in Steinbach