WTF is Curcumin?

a tablespoon of curcumin

Curcumin (n)  “A compound present in the spice turmeric, frequently used in Indian food. Its chemical makeup is responsible for the yellow coloring of turmeric, and is often used specifically to give color to foods. However, it may serve a more important purpose to humans. Medical researchers are fascinated by curcumin because it has been shown to have several properties that may fight specific forms of cancer.”  (Wisegeek)

Curcumin has been used for centuries in India and other parts of Southeast Asia as both a cooking spice and a medicine to treat arthritis and gastrointestinal upset.  In Ayurvedic medicine, curcumin is known as a “cleanser of the body.”
A number of studies have also shown promising results for using curcumin in the fight against cancer.

 

Here’s the dealio (as my daughter always says) on curcumin & cancer… Curcumin contains compounds that have potent anti-inflammatory properties and is high in antioxidants.  Laboratory research suggests that curcumin may slow down the growth of and even kill cancer cells in triple negative breast cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer and ovarian cancer.  Additional research suggests that curcumin helps make certain tumors more sensitive to the effects of chemotherapy and radiation, thereby helping to increase the effectiveness of these treatments.

 

One of the drawbacks to curcumin is that it is poorly absorbed even at high doses. In addition, at high doses, it can cause stomach discomfort.  However, new and improved curcumin supplements are now available that are more completely digested and easier to tolerate.  Keep in mind that although a number of studies have shown positive impact of curcumin on cancer, more definitive research still needs to be done.

 

Alan took curcumin 3x a day as prescribed by my very favorite oncological nutritionist, Dr. Glen Luepnitz.  Our doctors were supportive of our decision to use curcumin- however, there were certain times where our doctors asked us not to take it, like the few days before and after surgery.

 

THE BOTTOMLINE:  The jury is still out on whether curcumin has real anti-cancer potential.  However, if you decide that this is something you want to investigate taking, make sure of a few things…

* Discuss the use of curcumin or any herbal supplement with your own doctors prior to taking.  Some supplements can actually have negative reactions with certain types of chemotherapy and radiation.

*  Not all herbal supplements are created equal so make sure to buy any supplements from a reputable nutritionist.

4 comments

  1. Susan Udelson says:

    Since only a limited percentage of the curcumin taken orally gets into the blood, several new formulations have been developed that increase absorption and bioavailability in the body. One bioavailability enhancing ingredient is Bioperine, a patented black pepper extract containing the compound piperine which inhibits the metabolism of curcumin in the gut and liver. Bioperine has been shown to increase the bioavailability of curcumin by 1.5 times and is found in the brands Doctors Best, Life Extension, and Swanson.

    Another more bioavailable ingredient is BCM-95, which reconstitutes curcumin with other components of turmeric. A small study showed the bioavailability of BCM-95 to be about 7 times that of normal curcumin, and about 6 times that of a curcumin-lecithin-piperine complex.

    So perhaps looks for products containing Bioperine or BCM-95.

    Source: Consumer Labs (an independent testing lab for nutritional products with an excellent website; it provides a wealth of information/research about each substance; by subscription only)

  2. Chris says:

    LOL
    I was scrolling up from the bottom, reading your posts, and was reading about curcumin, then scrolled up to the title of the post. Your post title made me LOL. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot …. :D

    Thanks. The LOL felt gr8. :D

    • Robyn says:

      Whiskey Tango Foxtrot! I like that… now you’ve made me smile. ;-)

      • Chris says:

        It’s what we say quietly in church when someone does something…unusual. Actually my kids and I just quietly whisper “Whiskey Tango” knowing what we mean. And yes, the kids and I are a rowdy bunch. But we have a LOT of fun!

        Once Jennifer and I were out shopping. We noticed that she was getting a lot of looks. It was mid afternoon, a week before Christmas. We finally realized that the dress she had on for a party that evening was what was drawing the looks – since it was very low cut. She’s my daughter; I had not noticed. Which led to the laughing expression we used after that when we would see a woman with a LOT of cleavage or ‘boobage’ showing…that she had a lot of ‘party’ going on there.

        The keeds are a ton of fun. We rarely get into legal trouble…anymore. Of course, there was that coaster flying contest in Chili’s that one time. But we really were taking the large acorn squash back to the produce dept. Really.

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