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Curcumin: Root for Health Disorders and Immunity


nutrition articles

December 2013

Curcumin (Turmeric): A Wonder Root for Health Disorders and Immunity

Curcumin, an extract from turmeric, is a highly researched herb for its prevention and treatment of chronic illness. Many billion dollar drugs are isolated from plants, indicating that plants really do have healing and disease modifying effects and their medicinal benefits can be remarkable. Curcumin, Curcuma longa, is a ginger-like plant renowned for its healing properties in China, the Middle East, and India. The recognizable name Turmeric refers to the plants rhizome or underground stem. This underground part is rich in a variety of powerful ingredients collectively and generically known as Curcuminoids, with Curcumin being the prominent constituent. It also has an assortment of essential oils that have beneficial effects.

Curcuminoids are in the polyphenol family. Polyphenol refers to a broad category of structurally-related, powerful, life- enhancing ingredients. Although related in structure, the benefits vary. Polyphenols are found in the healthiest of foods - dark berries, green tea, olive oil, red grapes, oranges, apples, beets, garlic and onions, seeds, beans, whole grains - among other wholesome foods. Recently published In Chianti, a study from Tuscany, Italy shows that a high intake of dietary polyphenols decreases mortality in aging people strongly, with a thirty-percent risk reduction; consuming polyphenols can now be looked at as a life extending activity.

Curcumin throughout history

Turmeric containing curcuminoids is usually available ground, as a fine, bright-yellow powder. It is a major constituent in curry, giving it both its color and flavor. The medicinal history of turmeric is at least 2500 years old. Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha and Chinese medicine recommend turmeric for a large number of disorders and diseases. Ayurvedic medicine was the first scientific form of medicine. In it, the effects of plants and therapies for differing conditions were observed and systematized.

Susruta's Ayurvedic Compendium, dating to 250 BC, recommends an ointment containing turmeric to relieve the effects of poisoned food. Traditional Indian medicine uses the powder against biliary disorders (gall bladder and bile duct illnesses), anorexia, coryza (cold symptoms, such as inflamed mucous membranes), cough, diabetic wounds, hepatic (liver) disorders, rheumatic disorders, sprains and swellings caused by injury, and sinusitis. Externally, the dried rhizome has been applied to fresh wounds and to insect stings and to help the healing process in chickenpox and smallpox. It is also applied topically for ulcers, wounds, eczema, and inflammation. In both the Ayurvedic and Siddha systems of medicine, a turmeric paste is used topically to treat ulcers and scabies. The Himalayan system of medicine recommends turmeric for swelling, insect stings, wounds, whooping cough, inflammation, internal injuries, pimples, and as a skin tonic.

Traditional Chinese medicine uses curcumin for diseases associated with abdominal pain, menstrual problems, distending or pricking pain in the chest and abdomen; impairment of consciousness in febrile (fever) diseases, epilepsy, and mania, and jaundice with dark urine. Chinese medicine recommends turmeric for promoting flow of Qi and removing blood stasis, clearing away heat from the heart to relieve depression, and cooling blood to arrest bleeding. The herb is credited with powers to stop hemorrhage and dissolve clots.

In Unani medicine, a form of Greco-Arabic medicine traditionally practiced by Muslims, turmeric has been used for conditions such as liver obstruction and jaundice and has been applied externally for ulcers and inflammation. Roasted turmeric has been used as an ingredient of a preparation used for dysentery. Turmeric has also been used in tooth powder or paste.

Curcumin today

Research on curcumin, the most prominent of the major curcuminoids, is exploding with more than 2000 reports presently available. This is due to an extremely wide array of complex biological activities exhibited by the molecule. Curcumin acts on multiple targets in the human body and at multiple levels. To illustrate this point, transcription factors cause genes to activate and genes, in turn (through their effects on our cells), protect us, keeping us young and vigorous. Genes allow us to create energy, fight microbes, and carry on with our daily lives. The way that genes affect our cells in our organs and tissues is through signaling pathways. The number of transcription factors, and signaling pathways modulated (manipulated in a very good way) by curcumin is, indeed, bewildering. Curcumin has demonstrated benefit for numerous chronic diseases afflicting modern humanity.

Curcumin and its associate curcuminoids are very poorly absorbed. However, this issue has been resolved. Research from Baylor University in Texas shows that the patented form known as BioCurcumin (BCM-95) is very well absorbed, allowing for much smaller doses than used previously and it lasts in the body longer, providing a greater window of opportunity for benefit. BioCurcumin supplies known levels of the major curcuminoids and essential oils from Turmeric, and it has been used in a number of successful, published human clinical trials.

Benefits of Curcumin

The curcuminoids, if well absorbed, are very powerful antioxidants that can effectively scavenge oxygen- and nitrogen free radicals; without sufficient antioxidants to act as antidotes, these free radicals would otherwise slowly destroy us or greatly accelerate the aging process. Curcuminoids are a complete anti-inflammatory modulating all the agents from the immune system involved in the complex process of inflammation (including cytokines, chemokines, adhesion molecules, growth factors and transcription factors), thereby preventing the transcription or activation of inflammatory genes.

In heart disease, curcumin can affect all the steps believed to be involved in the pathologic process[i] of atherosclerosis[ii] which is hardening or narrowing of the arteries[iii] and strongly protects the heart[iv]. In diabetes, it can potentially reverse insulin resistance[v], the first clinically relevant stage of the disease. Further, it can sensitize insulin by inducing the transcription factor PPARy[vi], similar to the therapeutic drugs known as thiazolidinediones currently used for diabetes.

Curcumin so far, has been shown to be the only agent which can effectively address all the multiple factors involved in Alzheimer’s disease[vii][viii] and rheumatoid arthritis[ix]. Curcumin also provides significant symptomatic relief for osteoarthritis[x]. Curcumin also targets depression and improves the effects of antidepressant medication[xi]. As an anticancer agent, it is a chemo preventive agent protecting us from cancer triggers in the environment[xii], it affects cell cycle progression (or the growth cycle of cancer cells) and transformation from precancerous to cancerous cell[xiii], causes apoptosis, which is death of malignant cells by more than one mechanism, prevents angiogenesis and metastasis which is the feeding and spread of cancerous tissues, and is effective even against drug-resistant cancers. Whereas the present day cancer drugs are specific for one or a few types of cancer, curcumin has been shown in preclinical studies to be effective against virtually all forms of human cancers[xiv]. While common chemotherapeutic agents cause serious side effects, curcumin produces none. While the common anticancer drugs are immuno-suppressors, curcumin is an immuno-restorer helping protect the immune system.

Components of BioCurcumin

BioCurcumin (research name is BCM-95) is a 100% pure extract of turmeric. It has many therapeutic nutritive constituents that has been standardized for effectiveness.

Standardized constituents:

  • Curcumin
  • Demethoxy Curcumin
  • Bis-Demethoxy Curcumin
  • Essential Oils of turmeric rhizome

Essential Oils are found naturally in turmeric. These essential oils have been scientifically proven to have various health benefits. The anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor, anti-proliferative (anti-growth and spread of cancer) and anti-oxidant activities of these essential oils have been largely known and clinically researched. Essential Oils used in BCM-95 are extracted using double steam distillation. Contents of Essential Oils are 7-9% with ar-tumerone,α-tumerone and β-tumerone around 50%.

Essential oils:

  • Ar-curcumene
  • α-curcumene
  • Zingeberene
  • β-sesuiphellandrine
  • β-atlantone
  • Germacrone

Included in the benefits of taking a high quality patented turmeric extract such as BMC-95 are the proven quality aspects.

Quality Aspects of BCM-95 (A registered product of Dolcas Biotech)
BCM-95 is non-GMO. True Identity of turmeric
No harmful solvents used 100% natural turmeric extract without use of any excepients, additives or carriers The cultivation of the raw material for BCM-95 is grown using Organic practices but is not organic certified
Abide by CA Prop 65 for lead Free of Oxalates
Every batch of BCM-95 produced is tested at both our in-house lab and an external lab in the US for Heavy Metals including lead, arsenic, cadmium and mercury. We use the latest and most accurate lab equipment called “IC-PMS” instead of conventional Atomic Absorption. BCM-95 does not contain any harmful solvents like EDC (ethylene di-chloride, benzene, acetone or IPA); these solvents are not used to concentrate BCM-95. Harmful solvents specifically EDC (ethylene di-chloride or also known as 1,2-di-chloro ethane) are used to get more yield during the extraction, thus reducing the cost of the final extract. Once these solvents are used, it is not possible to remove it from the final extract.
Every batch independently tested Not treated with any Gamma Irradiation and ETO (ethylene oxide)
Abide by Test methods and Specification as listed in USP (United State Pharmacopeia) The conventional test GC-MS is best known for solvent residue testing. But for curcumin, this is not the right method because the curcuminoids are in crystal form and the solvents are trapped in these crystals. Using GC-MS, the method usually employed for testing will give the “misleading” report of no solvent detected.
No use of any synthetic compounds BCM-95 is tested for solvent residue using the most advanced laboratory equipment called GC-Headspace. In this method, the crystals are broken and all the trapped solvents are collected and measured. BCM-95 contains no harmful solvents and all the batches of BCM-95 abide by United States Pharmacopeia (USP).
  • [i]  Expert Opin Ther Targets. 2013 Aug;17(8):905-19. doi: 10.1517/14728222.2013.805748. Epub 2013 Jun 6.
  • [ii]  Phytother Res. 2013 Aug 7. doi: 10.1002/ptr.5045. [Epub ahead of print]
  • [iii]  Br J Pharmacol. 2012 Dec;167(7):1550-62.
  • [iv]  Am J Cardiol. 2012 Jul 1;110(1):40-4
  • [v]  Diabetes Care 2012 Nov;35(11):2121-7
  • [vi]  British Journal of Pharmacology 2012 Aug;166(8):2212-27
  • [vii]  Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology. Vol 28, Number 1, Feb 2008 pg 110-114)
  • [viii]  BCM-95® Curcumin Selected for Prestigious Alzheimer's Study by Award-Winning Researcher, Dr. Ralph Martins
  • [ix]  Phytother Res. March 9, 2012 doi: 10.1002/ptr.4639
  • [x]  Abstract 316. Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2011;19(S1):S145-S146.]
  • [xi]  Phytotherapy Research 2013 Jul 6. doi: 10.1002/ptr.5025
  • [xii]  American Cancer Society
  • [xiii]  Cancer Biology & Therapy 7:9, 1436-1440; September 2008
  • [xiv]  Cancer Letters Volume 269, Issue 2, 8 October 2008, Pages 199-225

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