The Health Benefits of TURMERIC EXTRACT (Curcumin)

Tumeric Extract - CurcurminNow, for the good news about TURMERIC EXTRACT:

Researchers have long been aware of the health benefits of turmeric, the curry spice,  which is the source of curcumin (or turmeric extract). Curcurmin is the same thing as turmeric extract.  In India where turmeric (curry) is used daily, Alzheimer's disease is nearly absent (per the population size).  Curcumin (tumeric extract) is a powerful antioxidant and it has powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation is one of the most destructive processes we're exposed to on a daily basis that damage our cells and organs, which over time leads to chronic disease and aging.

Researchers have long studied turmeric extract's application in fighting cancer, arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, and reversing the process underlying Alzheimer's disease, and other forms of dementia.

One of the most important actions is turmeric extract's ability to inhibit chronic inflammation by inhibiting activation of transcription factor, nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-kB).  So, what's the big deal about this inhibition?  Well, NF-kB activation has been implicated in ALL stages of the development and propagation of cancer; and switching off, or inhibiting the NF-kB genes, which turmeric extract does, has been a huge subject of intense and exciting research.

The National Institutes of Health in Washington, D.C. has funded numerous studies on turmeric extract (curcumin) because of the diverse and myriad benefits of this antioxidant spice.  Turmeric extract affects virtually every organ of the body.  Some of the many benefits of turmeric extract include: treatment of cystic fibrosis (the most common genetic disorder in Caucasians), autoimmune diseases, such as sceleroderma, the prevention and treatment of cancer, the prevention and treatment of heart disease, reversing the damage associated with high blood sugar (diabetes), the prevention and treatment of both Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, and multiple sclerosis.  It also may help prevent cataracts, be useful in the treatment of skin disorders, such as psoriasis, and help in the treatment and healing of wounds.

Among other benefits, turmeric extract has antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal activities. This is not to be taken lightly, nor considered a minor benefit, particularly in wound healing.

Of all the benefits of curcumin, or turmeric extract, it is the prevention and treatment of cancer that has most scientists in awe!  One investigator wrote, "Curcumin ...has emerged as one of the most powerful chemopreventative and anticancer agents.  It's biological effects range from antioxidant and anti-inflammatory to inhibition of angiogenesis, and is shown to possess specific antitumoral activity." Cancer Res 2007 Mar 1:67(5):1988

Although anticancer drugs weaken the immune system, turmeric extract strengthens the immune system as it fights cancer at every step in the process.

For cancer to develop, normal cells turn into abnormal, or cancerous cells.  This "initiation" of cancer cells is inhibited by turmeric extract.  Once cancer is initiated it then propagates (progression and promotion), ...turmeric extract stops this in its tracks.  New cancer cells need oxygen and nutrients to grow; therefore, new blood vessels have to be formed to feed the growing cancer.  This is known as angiogenesis.  Turmeric extract stops angiogensis to cancer cells and tumors.  And, turmeric extract induces "apoptosis," ....the self-destruction of cancer cells!  It destroys cancer in all these ways while at the same time protecting normal cells from damage.  Turmeric extract appears to be a fantastic tool to fight cancer AND prevent and treat diseases by protecting against oxidation and inflammation. Turmeric extract seems to be the perfect designer substance in our battle to remain healthy.  It appears that man (or should I say, pharmaceutical companies) could not design or develop a more perfect substance for maintaining health ....but, that doesn't mean it hasn't stopped them from trying.

Not surprisingly, pharmaceutical companies are racing to develop patentable compounds that mimic the actions of turmeric extract so they can make huge profits; when interestingly enough the compound and benefits of turmeric extract not only exist, but are readily available to everyone!  Ah, the greed of mankind never ceases to amaze me. This same "re-creation" of nature's benefits by pharmacuetical companies was demonstrated years ago as they tried to duplicate the benefits and effectiveness of grape seed extract.  They created COX-2 Inhibitors (which grape seed extract is) such as Vioxx and Celebrex.  How did these "wonder drugs" work out for Big Pharma?  Hmmm, I wonder?  They ended up not providing any additional benefits that were already available to us through taking grape seed extract, while giving patients side-effects, sometimes with deadly consequences.  Why can't we use what nature has already provided?  "Because there's no money in it," ....only health, and we can't have that (without a profit anyway).

Specific cancers turmeric extract (curcumin) has been shown to prevent, slow, and/or kill: 

In 2007, scientists at the Univ. of Alabama at Birmingham published at report in the journal Cancer Research showing how turmeric extract (curmumin) reduced prostate cancer cells' production of a protein MDM2, which is associated with the formation of malignant tumors.  Simultaneously, curmumin prompted cells to produce another protein associated with apoptosis (programmed cell death). This is significant news for those battling prostate cancer. Cancer Res 2007 Mar 1:67(5):1988

India, probably due to its high consumption of curry (curmumin, or turmeric extract) has has one of the lowest incidence of prostate cancer rates in the world.  The annual prostate cancer incidence rate in India is ranges from 5.0 to 9.1 per 100,000/year.  In contrast, among white males in the U.S., the incidence is 110.4 per 100,000/year!  More than ten times higher.  For black males in the U.S., the incidence of prostate cancer is even HIGHER! Could consumption of turmeric extract reduce the incidence, saving thousands of lives each year?  The average intake of turmeric spice in India is 2 - 2.5 grams per day.  Thus, it is to the advantage of those battling any type of cancer to obtain turmeric extract in supplement form that would surpass that in its equivalency by at least 3 to 6 fold; i.e., 6 to 12 grams per day!

Curcumin (turmeric extract) has been shown to enhance the efficacy of the chemotherapy agent, gemcitabine, in the treatment of pancreatic cancer. This chemotherapy agent loses it effectiveness as the cancer progresses. Curmcumin (turmeric extract) helps prevent the tumor's resistance to the drug, so that more cancer cells can be killed.  This antioxidant does not protect cancer cells, helps KILL cancer cells (with or without chemotherapy) and protects normal cells in the process, making it ideal for adjunctive chemotherapy.

Curcumin (turmeric extract) interferes with the proliferation of various types of colon cancer, and it enhances the efficacy of the chemotherapeutic agent, oxaliplatin in the fight against colon cancer.  In other words, turmeric extract has the same benefits as was mentioned above regarding pancreatic cancer. 

Curcumin's effect against breast cancer is nothing short of amazing; both against a common variety of breast cancer cells, as well as a mutant line of breast cancer cells that have developed resistance to chemotherapy drugs. Turmeric extract exerts its effects on cell proliferation, cycling and death.  It attacks breast cancer in all three stages, where chemo drugs usually only target one.  Turmeric extract (or curcumin) seems able to adapt its anticancer activity according to need, including killing cancer cells in multi-drug resitant tumors of the breast and prostate, as well as in leukemia.

Lastly, turmeric extract is particularly beneficial in preventing cognitive decline, in the prevention or treatment of major disabling age-related neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and stroke. Adv Ex Med Biol 2007;197  In other words, turmeric extract helps prevent and slow down the progression of any type of dementia.

A few mechanism of action may account for these amazing benefits. Turmeric extract appears to reduce lead toxicity by raising levels of the antioxidant glutathione, as well as bind (i.e., chelate) heavy metals and remove them from the body.  Furthermore, turmeric extract is an antioxidant, protecting oxidative damage to neurons of the brain by promoting production of a protective enzyme, "hem oxygenase-1" (HO-1).  This is a fundamental defense mechanism for neurons exposed to oxidation, and turmeric extract helps the brain cells protect themselves.  (And, to think Pfizer wants us to use high-dose Lipitor to protect ourselves and loved ones from Alzheimer's disease, when turmeric extract can do it so much better, and prevent other diseases in the process ....without disabling side-effects.)

Memory loss begins by age 50; and by age 80 half of us will advance to some form and degree of dementia (Alzheimer's or not).  Asian epidemiological studies found that those who consumed curry (turmeric spice) showed strong evidence of "better cognitive performance" and "less age-related dementia." Am J Epidemiol 2006 Nov 1;164(9):898.  If you want to live longer, healthier, and have a higher quality of life as you age, consider a full-spectrum of antioxidants, minerals, omega-3 fatty acids, and other supplements, including this amazing supplement curcumin (or turmeric extract).

Okay, as always, "what about safety?"

Given that turmeric extract is a food that has been safely consumed for millennia (even by pregnant women), curcumin, or turmeric extract, would appear to be a perfect dietary supplement: safe, effective, and cheap.  Altern Med Rev. 2001 Sep'6 Suppl S62-6.   In fact, one researcher wrote, "Curcumin has an outstanding safety profile and a number of multifunctional actions ..."  Phase I clinical trials, using massive doses of curcumin, or turmeric extract (up to 8 grams/day for four months "did not result in discernable toxicities." Adv Exp Med Biol 2007;565:471

The myriad of benefits to be obtained from turmeric extract is emerging with a clear safety margin.  Previously, I wrote about the amazing benefits of obtaining at least 1,000 IU/day of vitamin D (1,000 to 5,000 IU/day).

Now, I am suggesting that you consider obtaining at least 60 mg per day of turmeric extract for health maintenance (along with several other quality supplements), and 2000 to 8000 mg per day for those battling cancer.  (As always, consult with your own personal physician before starting any nutritional supplement program, as these statements have not been evaluated by the FDA, and not meant to treat or cure disease.)

Personally, I get my turmeric extract through taking a combination of a "liver health maintenance supplement" and a "joint health maintainenance supplement."  Between these two supplements (that contain other ingredients) I obtain approximately 800 mg of turmeric extract per day.  Of course, I also take a full range of high quality antioxidants, minerals, and essential fatty acids.

Although I recommend 1,000 IU/day of vitamin D, I personally consume 4,000 IU/day, because I know the benefits and safety from that amount, particularly as it relates to cancer and heart health.  

Certainly, being on a nutritional supplement program or taking high doses of a specific ingredient such as turmeric extract is not a guarantee that one will never develop cancer or dementia, let alone die.  People supplement to protect their cells from oxidation and inflammation; hoping to reduce the risk and incidence of disease and slow down the aging process.  Turmeric extract holds so much promise, and is so safe, that I highly recommend that everyone make it a part of their daily routine.

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