Curcumin: The All In One Solution, Part 1 | Terry Talks Nutrition
Why is Curcumin Good for So Many Problems?
One of the reasons that curcumin works so well on such a wide range of diseases is because it is such a powerful anti-inflammatory. We know that almost all chronic diseases – from diabetes to heart disease to arthritis to Alzheimer’s disease – have something in common: unchecked, destructive inflammation. Unlike synthetic drugs, which typically work against only a single inflammation pathway, natural curcumin reduces inflammation through its effects on multiple inflammation targets. In technical terms, curcumin has been found to
- Suppress the activation of the NF-kB, which regulates the expression of pro-inflammatory gene products
- Downregulate COX-2, the enzyme linked to most inflammation
- Inhibit 5-LOX, another pro-inflammatory enzyme
- Downregulate the expression of cell surface adhesion molecules linked to inflammation
- Inhibit the activity of TNF, one of the most pro-inflammatory cytokines (cell-signaling protein molecules)
Because of this anti-inflammatory activity, as well as its ability to kill tumor cells, increase activity of protective antioxidants such as glutathione, and modulate tumor growth cell factors, curcumin is effective against hundreds of diseases.
Curcumin is also a potent antioxidant, able to neutralize unstable, reactive free radicals. Free radicals are molecules with a missing electron that stabilize themselves by “stealing” electrons from neighboring molecules, creating another free radical in the process. This chain reaction of free radical formation is known as a free radical cascade, and it can result in cellular damage (called oxidative stress) leading to inflammation and chronic disease – including cancer. Free radicals can negatively impact all body systems, including the immune system. Curcumin, like other antioxidants, is able to stop free radical cascades without becoming unstable itself. Its ability to neutralize free radicals is extraordinarily strong. In fact, a specially prepared extract of curcumin has an antioxidant value of over 1,000,000 – many times higher than that of blueberries (6,552), strawberries (3,577) or dark chocolate (powder) (40,200) – well known food-based antioxidants. The dual properties of curcumin as both anti-inflammatory and super antioxidant may also explain why it has no side effects.
Although the information on how curcumin works at a cellular level is very technical, what you need to remember is that curcumin is not a synthetic drug that poisons your body’s systems – instead, it works with your body’s own processes to help bring back natural function. If you would like more in-depth information on curcumin’s many mechanisms of action, please see the reference list at the end of this document.
Curcumin for Cancer
Our bodies have a natural ability to fight cancer through the activity of tumor suppressing genes. However, aging and environmental factors can turn off, or silence, these genes, allowing the cancer to grow and spread unchecked. Researchers have now found that one of the ways curcumin fights cancer is by re-awakening these “sleeping genes,” turning them back on to stop cancer. This branch of science is known as epigenetics, and it may hold the answer to treating many types of cancer.
Curcumin has been shown to stop cancer initiation, promotion and progression, meaning that it stops the changes that cause normal cells to become cancerous, stops the replication of cancerous cells (tumor formation), and stops cancerous cells from migrating to other parts of the body (known as metastasis). Published studies on curcumin’s anticancer activity (so far) have found that it can suppress breast, prostate, liver, skin, colon and lung cancer.
Curcumin has also been shown to increase the activity of cancer drugs and to decrease drug resistance in cancer cells (meaning it helps cancer drugs kill tumors more efficiently). Additionally, it protects normal cells from the toxic effects of chemotherapy drugs and radiation treatments.
Taking curcumin in combination with chemotherapy drugs may mean less of the toxic drugs are required, but the results will be better, with significantly reduced side effects. However, this is very early research and more studies need to be done.
Researchers believe that curcumin works similarly against all types of cancer, so no matter what kind of cancer you may have, curcumin can be helpful.
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