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  • Curcumin has been the subject of a huge amount of clinical trials investigating its wide-ranging health benefits

Curcumin has been the subject of a huge amount of clinical trials investigating its wide-ranging health benefits

The Spice of Life. We take a look at the evidence

Curcumin Spice for healthCurcumin is a popular ingredient in curries as it is the natural pigment that gives the spice turmeric its yellow colour. However, curcumin also has strong antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties which is why it has been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine. As a potent antioxidant it prevents the formation of damaging free radicals and works as a scavenger to neutralize free radicals that have already formed. Furthermore, curcumin interacts with numerous biochemicals in the body to promote the body's normal inflammatory response and help keep this response functioning as it should.

Curcumin has increasingly come under the spotlight in recent years, with numerous studies investigating its potential health benefits. Reportedly, over 2,500 preclinical scientific investigations have supported the activity of curcumin in helping a range of chronic diseases. From prostate cancer and Alzheimer’s disease to heart failure, diabetes and arthritis, there are numerous health conditions that it can protect against. Let’s take a look at some of the research backing this up.

OSTEOARTHRITIS (OA)

Scientists have found a proprietary curcumin extract may relieve pain and increase mobility in osteoarthritis (OA) patients at a dose much lower than prior studies on similar endpoints. Published in the June issue of Panminerva Medica1, the trial involved OA given a complex of curcumin with phosphatidylcholine (Meriva®).

The investigation was undertaken by Indena scientists in conjunction with scientists from Chieti-Pescara University, Pescara, and Università del Piemonte Orientale, Novara, both in Italy. The researchers gauged OA in 50 patients using WOMAC scores. Mobility was evaluated using walking performance (treadmill), and C-reactive protein (CRP) was measured to assess inflammatory status.

BENEFITING CARDIOVASCULAR HEALTH

New data from a Japanese clinical trial has shown that daily supplements of curcumin may benefit cardiovascular health to the same extent as exercise. Vascular health, which is measured by flow-mediated dilation (FMD) was found to improve equally in groups of post-menopausal women receiving the curcumin supplements and those receiving aerobic exercise training.2

ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE

Researchers from Michigan State University have discovered that curcumin has the ability to prevent the formation of alpha-synuclein proteins which are the hallmarks of many neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. The reason for this is because curcumin is able to cross the blood-brain barrier to affect biochemical and electrical activities in the brain.3

MERIVA CURCUMIN

Curcumin is diffcult to absorb into the human bloodstream from the gastrointestinal tract when consumed orally.4 However Meriva curcumin has been found to be much better absorbed by the body than ordinary curcumin. A 2007 study published in the journal Cancer Chemotherapy and Pharmacology demonstrated Meriva’s superior bioavailability compared to a standardized curcumin extract.5 This animal study noted a significantly greater amount of curcumin in the blood and tissue after dosing with Meriva.

A human study compared blood levels of curcumin after dosing with 4g of a standardized curcuminoid extract to 450mg Meriva curcuminoids (bound to phosphatidylcholine), and found similar blood levels of curcumin.

So, as we can see, the benefits of curcumin are far ranging indeed. And if you are considering taking curcumin it is well worth investigating Meriva for its better absorption rate in the body.

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