Botanical: Curcuma longa
Family: Zingiberaceae (ginger)
Other common names: Turmeric, Curcuma, Circuma Rotunda, Gauri, Indian Saffron,
Indian Yellow Root
Curcumin is a staple of Indian cuisine and medicine. It should also be a staple in your herbal closet as an overall health tonic for supporting improved liver, gallbladder and digestive functions. Women in India are often praised for their beautiful skin, and they, in turn, praise Curcumin as the reason for it. Curcumin is a warming herb that helps to stimulate circulation and support cardiac health. Try it for the relief of aches and pains of sore joints, arthritis and rheumatism. More importantly, Curcumin is now the subject of many university, hospital and research studies that show great promise in the treatment of malignant diseases, including those involving prostate, colon, esophagus, pancreas and breast.
The information presented herein by Herbal Extracts Plus is intended for educational purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent disease. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.
Curcumin (also known as Turmeric ) is an herbaceous perennial that is a native of India and southern and eastern Asia and thrives in loose, alluvial, well-drained soil in full sun, growing to a height of about three feet. The plant has a slightly acrid taste (somewhat like ginger) and is a warming herb that has been used as a spice by Indian cooks to flavor food for thousands of years (it is the main ingredient in Curry). Curcumin has been cultivated in China and Malaysia and has spread to Australia, Central and South America, the West Indies and Africa. The herb has been around for at least four thousand years in the folk medicinal literature of India, where it was called haridra in the ancient Sanskrit, the classical standard language of India many centuries ago, and the herb figured prominently in the earliest system of Indian medicine, dating back to about 3000 B. C. Curcumin is thought to be a symbol of prosperity and is revered as a prized charm in India. It was (and is) considered a very important herb in Ayurvedic medicine and was used for its aromatic, stimulant and carminative properties. It continues to be used in India to treat anorexia, liver disorders, cough, diabetic wounds, rheumatism and sinusitis. There are interesting developments on the horizon regarding the use of natural herbals in the fight against prostate cancer. Rutgers University scientists injected laboratory mice with Turmeric (also called Curcumin) and PEITC (phenethyl isothiocyanate), which is found naturally in cruciferous vegetables (Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, etc.) - after introducing human prostate cancer cells into the animals - either alone or in tandem. They reported that when Turmeric/Curcumin or PEITC was injected separately in new cancerous tumors, the growth of the tumors was retarded, but in well-established tumors, there was little effect. However, when the combination of Turmeric/Curcumin and PEITC was injected in combination, the results produced even stronger effects and significantly reduced tumor growth. The botanical genus, Curcuma, and its common name, Curcuma, are derived from the Arabic, kurkum, which means "saffron," referring to the herb's deep yellow/orange hue, and aside from its important service to herbal medicine and cuisine, Curcumin is also a rich and brilliant yellow and orange dye and natural food coloring. It is an important pigment for dyeing silk and wool and provides the intense orange color for the robes of Buddhist monks. Some of the constituents in Curcumin/Turmeric include curcumin (its principal active ingredient), demethoxycurcumin and bisdemethoxycurcumin (which are powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds), a volatile oil, gum, starch, calcium chloride, fiber, caffeic-, cinnamic-, p-coumaric- and other acids, limonene, calcium, iron, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, beta-carotene, B-vitamins and vitamin C.
Curcumin (also called Turmeric, its alternate name) is considered vital therapy for the liver. In ancient Ayurvedic medicine, the herb was a key therapy for good liver health, and in traditional Chinese medicine, Curcumin is still used regularly to treat liver and gallbladder problems. Today's research claims that this warming herb protects liver cells, and is beneficial for treating liver disease and may even reverse liver damage caused by very excessive iron consumption and alcohol. Curcumin is known to increase bile production and boost the production of enzymes that digest sugar and fat and may thereby inhibit cholesterol from crystallizing into gallstones.
Because Curcumin boosts the production of enzymes that digest sugar and fat, it is said to cut fat from the blood and may be helpful in weight loss regimens. Indian healers have used Turmeric for thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine in weight loss regimens.
For good digestion, Curcumin has a long and venerable history as a warming herb that helps to stimulate the digestive tract and improve digestion. Its mild aromatic properties have been used for thousands of years to stop stomach irritation when taken at proper dosages. The exact mechanism is not entirely understood, but modern research confirms that the herb does protect gastric mucosa, helping to ease indigestion and other digestive problems. It is known to reduce intestinal gas formation and acts as a fine carminative, helping to expel intestinal gas. This warming herb is also thought to stimulate the appetite and is sometimes used to help those fighting anorexia.
Curcumin is considered a potent non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory that has been very beneficial for the relief of the temporary discomforts caused by rheumatism and arthritis. Certain chemical constituents in Curcumin apparently deactivate immune cells that may cause inflammation without harming other parts of the immune system that are essential in fighting infection. It is said to curtail inflammation in both osteo- and rheumatoid arthritis and reduce swelling in recent bruises, wounds and insect bites.
Moreover, it is considered and herbal pain reliever that can be helpful for easing muscle pains and sports injuries, fibromyalgia, tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome and bursitis.
For the support of healthy heart function and better circulation, Curcumin is said to improve blood vessel health and stimulate the entire circulatory system. The herb is thought to act as a vasodilator and relax blood vessels, which, in turn, supports normal blood pressure, thereby lessening a risk of heart attack. It is also thought to reduce tissue damage during an attack. Additionally, Curcumin appears to lower serum cholesterol in the blood and to diminish platelet aggregation (blood clumping), which also helps to combat arteriosclerosis.
As a warming stimulant spice, Curcumin enhances respiratory system function and is often used to relieve head colds, sinusitis and coughs, and also ease chest congestion.
Curcumin has helped ease the discomforts of women's monthly menstruation and regulate its flow. It has also been called a uterine stimulant and possibly helpful in managing other uterine problems.
Curcumin is said to stimulate the immune system, and recent research claims that Curcumin appears to effectively fight free radicals. An active ingredient in Curcumin, seems to be a potent anti-mutagenic and antioxidant that scavenges and combats damage-causing free radicals and epoxides. In addition, the herb's cell-protective properties behave in the same way as the nutrient antioxidant vitamins C and E, which are also thought to inhibit free-radical reactions. It seems to activate and enhance the activity of the gene p53, which may reduce the risk of serious malignant colorectal and breast disease. Estrogen interacts with an anti-malignancy gene known as gene p53, which is a "molecular patrolman" that ensures that genetically defective cells do not multiply. Curcumin is said to work well in conjunction with, and aid recovery after, chemotherapy drug and radiation treatments. Recent studies completed at Johns Hopkins have indicated that compounds in Curcumin may, in fact, help prevent colon cancer, and we have provided the direct link to bring you up to date on this recent science. Read the article entitled "Compounds in curry, onions may help prevent colon cancer."
Scientists from Ireland’s University College Cork Cancer Research Centre found that Curcumin, the main spice in Curry, can kill off cancer cells in lab tests. The 2009 research, which was published in the British Journal of Cancer, demonstrated that Curcumin may destroy gullet cancer cells, and the team indicated that this natural remedy started to kill malignant cells within twenty-four hours. Furthermore, the cells also began to digest themselves, after the Curcumin triggered lethal cell death signals, which opens up the possibility that natural chemicals found in Curcumin-Turmeric could be developed into new treatments for malignant esophageal disease.
A 2008 clinical trial conducted by researchers at the University of Texas Anderson Cancer Center found that consumption of Curcumin-Turmeric Root extract standardized for 95 percent of phenolic compounds called curcuminoids (Standardized Extract 95% Curcuminoids) can benefit advanced pancreatic cancer sufferers, despite slow bioavailability when taken orally. Nevertheless, in spite of limited absorption, patients demonstrated Curcumin's biological activity, as evidenced by the anti-tumor effects on cytokine levels.
As an overall cleansing herb, Curcumin is thought to accelerate the detoxification process in the whole body. It is considered an antiviral and fights viral infection. There is some indication that Curcumin may help inhibit HIV infection from progressing to full-blown AIDS by acting as a protease inhibitor. It is also regarded as an antibacterial and has been known to kill parasites, fight skin infection (acne), and improve the texture and smoothness of the skin. The herb is also said to possess antifungal properties, inhibiting yeast overgrowth. Finally, the herb appears to be an effective tonic that normalizes energy flow, enhances the immune system and improves overall good health.
Curcumin-Turmeric, as the major ingredient in Curry, has been used quite liberally in the Indian diet, and recent research studies have suggested that the herb has the ability to reduce the effects of Alzheimer’s disease. India has one of the lowest Alzheimer’s disease rates in the world, estimated at one percent of individuals over sixty-five; whereas, ten percent of Americans over sixty-five develop Alzheimer’s disease. Apropos of this, data from the University of California (UCLA) indicate that using vitamin D in combination with Curcumin-Turmeric may help prevent and treat Alzheimer's disease because of its ability to boost the immune system and protect the brain against beta-amyloid accumulation. The buildup of plaque from beta-amyloid deposits is associated with increased brain cell damage and death from oxidative stress, a loss of cognitive function and an increased risk of Alzheimer's, the most common form of dementia.
Pursuant to Curcumin's actions as an antibacterial, recent information has emerged that the herb's potent antibiotic qualities may be helpful in combatting MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureaus), a particularly dangerous bacterium that may not respond to conventional pharmaceutical treatments.
Curcumin is said to work best when taken on an empty stomach.
Those who take blood thinners (Coumadin, etc.) should avoid Curcumin Herbal Supplement, as it may add to their anti-clotting effects. Overuse (more than the recommended dosage) is not recommended, as it may result in stomach distress. Normal therapeutic doses of Curcumin protect from ulcers, but at very high doses, it may induce ulcers. Curcumin is not recommended for persons with biliary tract obstruction, as the curcumin stimulates bile secretion. People with congestive heart failure, whose cause remains unidentified, should avoid this herb. Curcumin is not recommended for people with painful gallstones, obstructive jaundice, acute bilious colic or extremely toxic liver disorder. This is why it is very important to take only the recommended dose of this herbal remedy. Since Curcumin is considered a uterine stimulant, pregnant women should not use it. Curcumin is said to work best when taken on an empty stomach.
*Special Note: Curcumin (a curcuminoid) is the active constituent in Curcumin(and/or Turmeric (its alternate name and which we also reference on our website). visit our Turmeric Root webpage.