Curcumin, a bioactive ingredient in turmeric, has the ability to benefit your health in a variety of ways, and prevent a number of different diseases. According to a study published in theNatural Product Reports in 2011, curcumin can be therapeutic for:
Lung and liver diseases Neurological diseases Metabolic diseases Autoimmune disorders Cardiovascular diseases Inflammatory diseases
More specifically, studies that now number in the hundreds have shown that curcumin and other bioactive compounds in turmeric can:
Support healthy cholesterol levels Prevent low-density lipoprotein oxidation Inhibit platelet aggregation Suppress thrombosis and myocardial infarction Suppress symptoms associated with type 2 diabetes Suppress symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis Suppress symptoms of multiple sclerosis Protect against radiation-induced damage and heavy metal toxicity Inhibit HIV replication Reduce systemic inflammation in obese individuals Enhance wound healing Protect against liver damage Increase bile secretion Protect against cataracts Protect against pulmonary toxicity and fibrosis
Curcumin is capable of crossing your blood-brain barrier, which is one factor that has led researchers to investigate its potential as a neuroprotective agent for neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.
The potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin suggests it may also promote brain health in general. In the case of Alzheimer’s, recent animal research has discovered another bioactive ingredient in turmeric, besides curcumin, that adds to its neuroprotective effects.
This compound, called aromatic turmerone, help endogenous neutral stem cells (NSC) to grow, and these stem cells play an important role brain repair and regeneration activities. According to lead author Adele Rueger:
“While several substances have been described to promote stem cell proliferation in the brain, fewer drugs additionally promote the differentiation of stem cells into neurons, which constitutes a major goal in regenerative medicine. Our findings on aromatic turmerone take us one step closer to achieving this goal.”
Curcumin may also be helpful. Previous research has shown that curcumin helps inhibit the accumulation of destructive beta-amyloids in the brain of Alzheimer’s patients, as well as break up existing plaques associated with the disease.
People with Alzheimer’s tend to have higher levels of inflammation in their brains, and curcumin is perhaps best known for its potent anti-inflammatory properties.
It can inhibit both the activity and the inflammatory metabolic byproducts of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX2) and 5-lipooxygenase (5-LOX) enzymes, as well as other enzymes and hormones that modulate inflammation.
Another common condition that can benefit from curcumin’s anti-inflammatory activity is osteoarthritis. Research published in 2011 found that patients who added 200 mg of curcumin a day to their treatment plan had reduced pain and increased mobility compared to the control group.
Earlier research also found that a turmeric extract blocked inflammatory pathways, effectively preventing the launch of a protein that triggers swelling and pain.
Among the most exciting benefits of turmeric is its potent anti-cancer activity. Curcumin actually has the most evidence-based literature supporting its use against cancer of any other nutrient, including vitamin D!
As noted by Dr. William LaValley—one of the leading natural medicine cancer physicians whom I’ve previously interviewed on this topic—curcumin is unique in that it appears to be universally useful for just about every type of cancer.
This is odd, considering the fact that cancer consists of a wide variety of different molecular pathologies. One reason for this universal anti-cancer proclivity is curcumin’s ability to affect multiple molecular targets, via multiple pathways.
Once it gets into a cell, it affects more than 100 different molecular pathways. And, as explained by Dr. LaValley, whether the curcumin molecule causes an increase in activity of a particular molecular target, or decrease/inhibition of activity, studies repeatedly show that the end result is a potent anti-cancer activity.
Moreover, curcumin is non-toxic, and does not adversely affect healthy cells, suggesting it selectively targets cancer cells—all of which are clear benefits in cancer treatment. Research has even shown that it works synergistically with certain chemotherapy drugs, enhancing the elimination of cancer cells.
[Health benefits via Dr. Mercola]
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