Curcumin has been the subject of much interest and research over the last few decades due to its medicinal properties. Research has demonstrated that curcumin is a potent anti-inflammatory agent that can reduce inflammation and may even play a role in cancer treatment. Curcumin has been shown to reduce the transformation, proliferation and spread of tumors and it achieves this through regulation of transcription factors, inflammatory cytokines, growth factors, protein kinases and other enzymes.
Curcumin prevents proliferation by interrupting the cell cycle and inducing programmed cell death. Furthermore, curcumin can inhibit the activation of carcinogens through suppression of certain cytochrome P450 isozymes.
What Is Curcumin?
Curcumin is a component of the Indian spice turmeric (Curcumin longa), a type of ginger. Curcumin is one of three curcuminoids present in turmeric, the other two being desmethoxycurcumin and bis-desmethoxycurcumin. These curcuminoids give turmeric its yellow color and curcumin is used as a yellow food colorant and food additive.
Curcumin is obtained from the dried rhizome of the turmeric plant, which is a perennial herb that is cultivated extensively in south and southeast Asia. The rhizome or the root is processed to form turmeric which contains 2% to 5% curcumin.
Why Your Body Needs Curcumin?
Curcumin Is an Anti-Inflammatory - In the right dose, curcumin may be a more effective anti-inflammatory treatment than common inflammation-fighting medications such as Advil (ibuprofen) and aspirin. As chronic inflammation contributes to many chronic diseases, curcumin may help treat conditions like inflammatory bowel disease, pancreatitis and arthritis.
1> Curcumin May Protect Against Heart Disease
A past study shows that curcumin may improve endothelial function, or the health of the thin membrane that covers the inside of the heart and blood vessels. This membrane plays a key role in regulating blood pressure. Lower endothelial function is associated with aging and an increased risk of heart disease. Thus, curcumin may help protect against age-related loss of function and reduce your likelihood of developing heart disease.
2> Curcumin May Prevent (And Possibly Help Treat) Cancer
As inflammation is linked to tumor growth, anti-inflammatory compounds such as curcumin may play a role in treating and preventing a variety of cancer types, including colorectal, pancreatic, prostate, breast, and gastric cancers. In fact, research in mice suggests that curcumin may help slow the spread of tumor cells and may even prevent tumors from forming in the first place. It may do this in several ways, including disrupting the formation of cancerous cells at various stages in the cell cycle, interfering with cell signaling pathways, and even causing those cancerous cells to die.
3> Turmeric May Help Delay Or Reverse Alzheimer’s Disease
Turmeric may even protect your brain against common degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. How? By increasing levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein found in the brain and spinal cord that plays a key role in keeping nerve cells (neurons) healthy, as well as regulating communication between nerve cells, which is critical for learning and memory. As common brain disorders like Alzheimer’s are associated with lower levels of BDNF, turmeric (curcumin in particular) may help delay or reverse brain degeneration.
4> Turmeric May Improve Skin Health
Thanks to its anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antioxidant properties, turmeric may be an effective treatment for a variety of skin conditions, including acne, eczema (atopic dermatitis), photoaging, and psoriasis.
5> Turmeric Protects Your Body From Free Radicals
Antioxidants help protect your body against damage caused by free radicals, a class of highly reactive atoms that are generated in our bodies, as well as in environmental pollutants like cigarette smoke and industrial chemicals. Too much exposure to free radicals can mess with the fats, proteins, and even DNA in your body, which may lead to a number of common diseases and health conditions, including cancer, arthritis, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s. Therefore, antioxidant-rich spices like turmeric may play a role in protecting you from free radical damage.
Did You Know?
Curcumin was first identified as a compound back in 1815. Since then, there have been several studies conducted to learn more about its abilities and has been touted to cure everything from pain and inflammation to fighting tumours and promoting brain health.
How Is Curcumin Different From Turmeric?
Curcumin is a naturally occurring chemical compound found in the spice turmeric.
Turmeric, on the other hand, is the root of a plant which is scientifically known as Curcuma Longa and that's probably where curcumin gets its name from.
Raw turmeric is often used in South Asian countries, although in India the powdered spice is more common. After the turmeric root is harvested it is cleaned, cured and then dried. Later, the dried root may be sold as it or ground into a fine powder. In India, it is often referred to as Indian saffron, yellow ginger, yellow root or kacha haldi. Just like spinach is rich in iron and lemons are full of Vitamin C, turmeric is a great source of curcumin. A turmeric root typically contains about 2 to 5% of curcumin.