Many human trials are needed before we can know with any certainty how we can best use curcumin in medicine. But one thing is certain: most doctors are not, at this time, aware of the potential benefits of curcumin and turmeric. There is ongoing research regarding the role of this herbal extract for its use in Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, inflammatory conditions, and several types of cancer. One concern is that it is poorly absorbed and most of it stays in the gastrointestinal tract which makes it ideal as a treatment for GI conditions. Some claim that absorption into the bloodstream is improved significantly when this supplement is used in combination with a black pepper extract called piperine, also known by the brand name Bioperine.
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Curcumin extract is one of the major antioxidant extracts found in the spice turmeric. Through its antioxidant mechanisms, it supports colon health, exert neuroprotective activity and help maintain a healthy cardiovascular system.
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Dosage: Depending on the medical reason, one can take one capsule a few times a week or up to 6 capsules a day as long as your health care provider is aware you are taking a large dose.
Q. Is this product enteric
A. It is not. I have have not yet seen human studies that compare the effectiveness of enteric coated to regular gelatin capsules. If those selling enteric coated pills have such studies, I would be glad to review them.
Alzheimer's disease benefit
In laboratory studies, curcumin inhibits amyloid formation. Amyloids are insoluble fibrous protein aggregates that clump in the brain cells of Alzheimer's patients. Whether such supplements help reduce the incidence of Alzheimer's disease or help improve this condition is not known at this time.
Curcumin structure-function, bioavailability, and
efficacy in models of neuroinflammation and Alzheimer's disease.
J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2008.
We examined the antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, or anti-amyloidogenic effects of dietary curcumin and tetrahydrocurcumin, either administered chronically to aged mice or acutely to lipopolysaccharide-injected wild-type mice. Despite dramatically higher drug plasma levels after tetrahydrocurcumin compared with curcumin gavage, resulting brain levels of parent compounds were similar. Only curcumin was effective in reducing amyloid plaque burden, insoluble beta-amyloid peptide, and carbonyls.
Curcumin inhibits formation of Abeta oligomers and fibrils and binds plaques and
reduces amyloid in vivo.
J Biol Chemistry. 2004.
Our data suggest that low dose curcumin effectively disaggregates as well as prevents fibril and oligomer formation, supporting the rationale for its use in clinical trials preventing or treating Alzheimer's disease.
Curcumin prevents interleukins from promoting inflammation.
Arsenic damage to DNA, reversal
Curcumin protects DNA damage in a chronically arsenic-exposed population of West Bengal.
Hum Exp Toxicol. 2010.
Groundwater arsenic contamination has been a health hazard for West Bengal, India. Oxidative stress to DNA is recognized as an underlying mechanism of arsenic carcinogenicity. This field trial in Chakdah block of West Bengal evaluated the role of curcumin against the genotoxic effects of arsenic induced oxidative stress. Antioxidant enzymes like catalase, superoxide dismutase, glutathione reductase, glutathione S-transferase, glutathione peroxidase and non-enzymatic glutathione were analyzed. The blood samples of the endemic regions showed severe DNA damage with increased levels of ROS and lipid peroxidation. The antioxidants were found with depleted activity. Three months curcumin intervention reduced the DNA damage, retarded ROS generation and lipid peroxidation and raised the level of antioxidant activity.
Combination treatment with curcumin and quercetin of adenomas in familial adenomatous polyposis.
Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2006.
Familialadenomatous polyposis is an autosomal-dominant disorder characterized by the development of hundreds of colorectal adenomas and eventual colorectal cancer. Regression of adenomas in this syndrome occurs with the administration of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and cyclooxygenase-2 inhibitors, but these compounds can have considerable side effects. Five familialadenomatous polyposis patients with prior colectomy (4 with retained rectum and 1 with an ileal anal pouch) received curcumin 480 mg and quercetin 20 mg orally 3 times a day. All 5 patients had a decreased polyp number and size from baseline after a mean of 6 months of treatment with this combination.
Cancer prevention or treatment
Curcumin has the capacity of interact with multiple molecular targets affecting the many processes in cancer formation. Curcumin, in mice, interferes with the spread of breast cancer tumor cells to the lungs. Administration suppressed two proteins that tumor cells use to keep themselves immortal. Studies evaluating the role of curcumin and cancer continue to advance at a fast rate.
Q. My 24 year old son has recently finished radiation with low dose oral chemotherapy (with temador) for a brain tumor. He is currently getting 5 days on and 23 days off of oral Temador. He is also taking curcumin. How many capsules and how often should he take that supplement? Should he continue taking it even while he is not taking the oral chemotherapy?
A. We really wish we could give an informed opinion, but it is difficult to know how curcumin is influencing the cancer, if any, how many mg would be effective if it does work, what the interaction are with the chemotherapy, etc.... Hardly any human trials are available with curcumin and cancer, so it is extremely difficult to make any suggestions. We truly wish your son a healthy recovery.
Curcumin helped stop the spread of breast cancer tumor cells to the lungs of mice. Tests have already started in people, too, said Bharat Aggarwal of the Department of Experimental Therapeutics at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Earlier research showed that curcumin can help prevent tumors from forming in the laboratory. For their study, Bharat Aggarwal injected mice with human breast cancer cells -- a batch of cells grown from a patient whose cancer had spread to the lungs. The resulting tumors were allowed to grow, and then surgically removed, to simulate a mastectomy. Then the mice either got no additional treatment; curcumin alone; the cancer drug paclitaxel, which is sold under the brand name Taxol; or curcumin plus Taxol. Half the mice in the curcumin -only group and 22 percent of those in the curcumin plus Taxol group had evidence of breast cancer that had spread to the lungs. But 75 percent of animals that got Taxol alone and 95 percent of those that got no treatment developed lung tumors. Earlier studies suggest that people who eat diets rich in turmeric have lower rates of breast cancer, prostate cancer, lung cancer and colon cancer.
Consumption of the putative chemopreventive agent curcumin by cancer patients: assessment of levels in the colorectum and their pharmacodynamic consequences.
Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2005.
Patients with colorectal cancer ingested curcumin capsules (3,600, 1,800, or 450 mg daily) for 7 days. Biopsy samples of normal and malignant colorectal tissue, respectively, were obtained at diagnosis and at 6 to 7 hours after the last dose. Blood was taken 1 hour after the last dose of the herbal extract. The concentrations of curcumin in normal and malignant colorectal tissue of patients receiving 3,600 mg of curcumin were 12 and 7 nmol/ gram, respectively. Curcumin sulfate and glucuronide were identified in the tissue of these patients. Trace levels of curcumin were found in the peripheral circulation. The results suggest that a daily dose of 3.6 g achieves pharmacologically efficacious levels in the colorectum with negligible distribution outside the gut.
Phase I clinical trial of oral
curcumin: biomarkers of systemic activity and compliance.
Clin Cancer Res. 2004.
Curcumin exhibits anticancer activity in rodents and in humans. Its efficacy appears to be related to induction of glutathione S-transferase enzymes, inhibition of prostaglandin E(2) (PGE(2)) production, or suppression of oxidative DNA adduct (M(1)G) formation. Fifteen patients with advanced colorectal cancer refractory to standard chemotherapies consumed capsules compatible with curcumin doses between 0.45 and 3.6 g daily for up to 4 months. Levels of curcumin and its metabolites in plasma, urine, and feces were analyzed. Three biomarkers of the potential activity were translated from preclinical models and measured in patient blood leukocytes: glutathione S-transferase activity, levels of M(1)G, and PGE(2) production induced ex vivo. Dose-limiting toxicity was not observed. A daily dose of 3.6 g engendered 62% decrease in inducible PGE(2) production in blood samples taken 1 hour after dose.
Turmeric and green tea: a recipe for the treatment of B-chronic lymphocytic leukemia.
Clin Cancer Res. 2009.
Two naturally occurring compounds, curcumin, the active ingredient in the spice turmeric, and the green tea extract epigallocatechin-3-gallate, have marked effects on the apoptotic machinery in chronic lymphocytic leukemia. These results provide a preclinical foundation for future clinical use of these compounds in this disease.
Curcumin inhibits the multiplication of leukemia cells in laboratory studies.
Curcumin interferes with the growth of melanoma cells. Tests in laboratory dishes show that curcumin made melanoma skin cancer cells more likely to self-destruct in a process known as apoptosis.
Curcumin -induced antiproliferative and proapoptotic effects in melanoma cells are associated with suppression of IkappaB kinase and nuclear factor kappaB activity.
Phytoestrogens in common herbs regulate prostate cancer cell growth in vitro.
Nutr Cancer. 2004.
Seven phytoestrogens found in common herbal products were screened for estrogen receptor binding and growth inhibition of androgen-insensitive (PC-3) and androgen-sensitive human prostate tumor cells. In a competitive 3H-estradiol ligand binding assay using mouse uterine cytosol, 2.5 M quercetin, baicalein, genistein, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), and curcumin displaced > 85% of estradiol binding, whereas apigenin and resveratrol displaced > 40%. From growth inhibition studies in LNCaP cells, apigenin and curcumin were the most potent inhibitors of cell growth, and EGCG and baicalein were the least potent. In PC-3 cells, curcumin was the most potent inhibitor of cell growth, and EGCG was the least potent. In both cell lines, significant arrest of the cell cycle in S phase was induced by resveratrol and EGCG and in G2M phase by quercetin, baicalein, apigenin, genistein, and curcumin. Induction of apoptosis was induced by all of the 7 compounds in the 2 cell lines.
Antioxidant effect of curcumin in selenium induced cataract of Wistar rats.
Indian J Exp Biol. 2004.
Wistar rat pups treated with curcumin before being administered with selenium showed no opacities in the lens. The lipid peroxidation, xanthine oxidase enzyme levels in the lenses of curcumin and selenium co-treated animals were significantly less when compared to selenium treated animals. Curcumin co-treatment seems to prevent oxidative damage and found to delay the development of cataract.
Hypertension, blood pressure
Is curcumin capable of raising blood pressure and does it have an influence on those who have mild to moderate hypertension?
We have not seen any studies that would indicate it to raise blood pressure or that it should not be taken by those who have hypertension.
Inflammatory bowel disease
Curcumin therapy in inflammatory bowel disease: a pilot study.
Dig Dis Sci. 2005.
A pure curcumin preparation was administered in an open label study to five patients with ulcerative proctitis and five with Crohn's disease. All proctitis patients improved, with reductions in concomitant medications in four, and four of five Crohn's disease patients had lowered Crohn's disease activity index scores and sedimentation rates.
Renoprotective effect of the antioxidant curcumin: Recent findings. J.Redox Biol. 2013 Sep 17.
Drs. A. Baghdasaryan and Michael Trauner of the Gastroenterology and Hepatology division at the Medical University Graz in Austria found that feeding curcumin to mice reduced the types of inflammation that can cause liver cell damage, blockage and scarring. A. Baghdasaryan, Michael Trauner and their team wanted to find out if curcumin could delay the damage caused by progressive inflammatory liver disease, including two conditions called primary sclerosing cholangitis and primary biliary cirrhosis. Both of these conditions, which can be initiated by genetic faults or autoimmune disease, cause the liver's plumbing system of bile ducts to become inflamed, scarred, and blocked. This can lead to major tissue damage and irreversible and ultimately fatal liver cirrhosis. Tissue and blood samples from mice with chronic liver inflammation were tested before and after adding curcumin to their diet for four or eight weeks. The spiced diet significantly reduced bile duct blockage and curbed liver cell damage and scarring by interfering with chemical signalling pathways involved in inflammation.
Curcumin improves sclerosing cholangitis in Mdr2-/- mice
by inhibition of cholangiocyte inflammatory response and portal myofibroblast
Oral Supplementation of Turmeric Decreases Proteinuria, Hematuria, and Systolic Blood Pressure in Patients Suffering from Relapsing or Refractory Lupus Nephritis: A Randomized and Placebo-controlled Study. J Renal Nutrition. 2011.
In this study we investigated effects of oral curcumin supplementation on patients suffering from relapsing or refractory lupus nephritis. With each meal, each patient in the trial group received 1 capsule for 3 months, which contained 500 mg turmeric, of which 22 mg was the active ingredient curcumin (3 capsules daily). The control group received 3 capsules (1 with each meal) for the same period, which contained starch and were identical in color and size to capsules given to patients in the trial group. A significant decrease in proteinuria was found. Also, systolic blood pressure and hematuria were found to decrease significantly. Short-term turmeric supplementation can decrease proteinuria, hematuria, and systolic blood pressure in patients suffering from relapsing or refractory lupus nephritis and can be used as an adjuvant safe therapy for such patients.
Prostate gland and PSA level
Combined inhibitory effects of soy isoflavones and curcumin on the production of prostate-specific antigen.
Sustained chronic inflammation in the prostate promotes prostate carcinogenesis. Since an elevated level of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) per se reflects the presence of inflammation in the prostate, intervention to improve the PSA value might potentially have beneficial effects for the prevention of the development of prostate cancer. Isoflavones and curcumin have anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. Our results indicated that together they could modulate serum PSA levels. Curcumin presumably synergizes with isoflavones to suppress PSA production in prostate cells through the anti-androgen effects.
As an anti-inflammatory compound, it may help reduce the pain from tendonitis.
Biofactors. Feb 2013. Curcumin, a component of turmeric: from farm to pharmacy. Traditionally, this polyphenol has been used in Asian countries to treat such human ailments as acne, psoriasis, dermatitis, and rash. Recent studies have indicated that curcumin can target newly identified signaling pathways including those associated with microRNA, cancer stem cells, and autophagy. Extensive research from preclinical and clinical studies has delineated the molecular basis for the pharmaceutical uses of this polyphenol against cancer, pulmonary diseases, neurological diseases, liver diseases, metabolic diseases, autoimmune diseases, cardiovascular diseases, and numerous other chronic diseases. Multiple studies have indicated the safety and efficacy of curcumin in numerous animals including rodents, monkeys, horses, rabbits, and cats and have provided a solid basis for evaluating its safety and efficacy in humans. To date, more than 65 human clinical trials of curcumin, which included more than 1000 patients, have been completed, and as many as 35 clinical trials are underway. Curcumin is now used as a supplement in several countries including the United States, India, Japan, Korea, Thailand, China, Turkey, South Africa, Nepal, and Pakistan. In this review, we provide evidence for the pharmaceutical uses for various diseases.
Curcumin side effects,
toxicity, danger, safety
No apparent curcumin side effects have been reported in the medical literature thus far. Increased body temperature on high doses may be a possible curcumin side effect on high doses. A study performed at the University of Michigan showed no curcumin toxicity at doses up to 6 grams.
Dose escalation of a curcuminoid formulation. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2006.
My father has primary amyloidosis and it has
affected both his liver as well as the digestive system. Have you known of
tumeric and curcumin to improve liver function. I respect the work that you do.
I am not aware yet of the specific effect curcumin capsules have on liver health.
Q. I have been attending the dental hospital in Walers
U.K. under Prof. Lewis for a Lichenoid infection on my tongue. Dr. Lewis, in
desperation, to try and find some relief for my condition which was not
responding well to other treatment, had seen your web site on curcumin and asked
me to give it a try. I ordered curcumin and I have religiously taken two capsuls
a day for three months and I am so pleased with the results. Although the
condition has not completely gone, it is 100 times better than it was and Prof.
Lewis is really enthused with the results, and has said that I may be one of the
first to try such curcumin treatment over here in the U.K.!! You can't imagine
how much it means to me to be almost free from pain and able to start eating
foods which are acidy and spicy, in moderation. I know that the Lichenoid
infection condition has no complete cure, but at least there is hope on the
horizon for the many sufferers of this unpleasant condition. Thank you so much,
I will continue to take the curcumin capsules long term. Regards. P>S> I don't
mind my name being used if you think this is worthy of your website. Judith
A. Thanks! Please keep us updated. Can you tell us the actual name of the skin condition?
Q. Thank you so much for taking the time to reply to my email, it was much appreciated, as I know how busy you must be. The medical name for my complaint in Lichen Planus, My tongue is very sore with blisters and lesions which subside at times and other times are very inflamed and extremely sore leaving me virtually unable to eat, or at best a diet of bland sandwiches!! I do find that the curcumin helps very much indeed and I would urge anyone who wants to try it, to do so and persevere over a period of three months to see the best results. I will keep you posted regarding my progress. The other advantage also of the curcumin, is that you can take it long term without having to have a "rest" period once a week. Regards, Judith.
A. One case history does not prove anything. Curcumin may have been the herb that helped your lichen planus, and we eagerly await other reports from those with lichen planus to see if your response was an isolated case or whether in fact curcumin is helpful for lichen planus. If we do get several reports of such help, then perhaps a dermatologist or researcher may wish to investigate its role in this skin condition.
Would appreciate knowing if there is research
information on the effect of curcumin on testosterone in men. Is it known to
interfere -by raising, or lowering testosterone? or does it have no effect
We have not seen any research on the influence of curcumin on testosterone levels.
I've been taking your Curcurmin Turmeric supplement since 2009 for retinal hemorrhaging due to presumed ocular histoplasmosis, and have had excellent results. Prior to taking it, for over 18 months I was having to have monthly injections of Avastin bevacizumab for fluid and bleeding in my left eye. Since taking the supplement, my retina specialist has stopped the injections, first telling me to come back in two months, and now giving me four months before my next appointment. He told me to keep doing what you are doing. It is wonderful! Just wanted your research department to know.
I saw that you are a vet and have been doing some
studies with horses. What is the typical dose for horses and are there any
studies I might be able to get a couple of mine into. The last I read for humans
was that the top dose given so far was 12g, but I never found any dosage given
in any of the equine studies, just the results.
Actually I am not a veterinarian. I did a Medline search and did not find studies using curcumin in horses.
I have been diagnosed as
pre-diabetic and would like to see how this product will affect my blood sugar.
I read an article on another site that indicated that if curcumin does not have
an enteric coating that the supplement will not be absorbed into the blood
stream readily. Does your supplement have an enteric coating? Or is an enteric
coating necessary for absorption?
This product is not enteric coated. We have not seen any studies as of July 2010 that such coating enhances absorption.