Curcumin

Curcumin: Usage, Health Benefits & Side Effects

The curcumin supplement has become increasingly popular in recent times. We, therefore, decided to explore it and find out why it’s such a big deal.

When you are looking for a supplement, you need to know what you are ingesting. Is it safe? How often can you take it? How does it benefit you? These are just a few of the questions we will answer in this article.

But first, let’s get acquainted with curcumin by knowing what we are dealing with.


 

What is Curcumin?

Curcumin is the most active ingredient in turmeric. Turmeric comes from the Curcuma longa root.

Turmeric has been used in food preparations for years. It has also been used for medicinal purposes. For instance, in India, they have been using it to treat skin infections for ages.

Turmeric contains many substances and one of them is curcuminoids. The three main curcuminoids are curcumin, bisdemethoxycurcumin, and demethoxycurcumin.

Curcumin is the most active of the three. Curcumin is also what gives turmeric its yellow color.

Curcumin supplements come in powder, capsule and shake form. It has become so popular that you can find it in any pharmacy in your area.


 

How does it work?

Curcumin has anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and medicinal properties that make it potent for various health conditions.

Here are a few ways it works for the benefit of your health.

Natural anti-inflammatory

This has to be the most common curcumin benefit. Inflammation can be a good thing because it tells you when your body has a problem.

It can, however, be a problem when it over occurs. Some of the diseases it can cause include; heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s and many other degenerative disorders.

Curcumin’s anti-inflammatory properties help to give relief to people suffering from these diseases. It has been referred to as some of the most potent anti-inflammatory medications.

Some studies show the bioactive power of curcumin as an anti-inflammatory [1, 2].

Improves brain function and brain health in general

For a long time, it had been known that you couldn’t make new brain connections after childhood. But after numerous research, the reverse was proven.

Sometimes the neurons in some parts of your brain may even increase in number. The brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is the hormone responsible for neuron connections.

As we grow older, many hormones in our bodies decrease. So does the quantity of BDNF.

Alzheimer’s disease and depression are some of the results of a decrease in BDNF. The good news is that there is a link between curcumin and BDNF levels.

Yes! You guessed it. Curcumin can help increase the levels of BDNF in your brains [3]. Even better, it can help reverse the effects of degenerative brain diseases.

There is even a chance that this supplement can help improve your memory.

May help prevent cancer

Cancer is usually a result of cell growth getting out of hand. You all know how bad it can get. There are many types of cancer. But the good news is that curcumin can be a deterrent to cancer.

Some studies have shown that curcumin can help prevent the growth and spread of cancer [4]. It may even kill cancer cells by stopping the growth of blood vessels in cancerous tumors [5].

But prevention is better than cure. What if there was a chance that you could prevent cancer instead of treating it?

Well, there is some evidence, though minimal, that curcumin can help prevent cancer. It can be most effective on the cancers that affect the digestive system.

There has also been a study that involves about 40 men with lesions in their colons. Their wounds had the potential to be cancerous. When they took a daily 4g dose of curcumin, the sizes of their injury reduced by about 40%  [6].

Can help with obesity

Obesity affects a substantial portion of the population, especially in America. Curcumin has been found to help get rid of the bad cholesterol that can contribute to obesity.

Can be a potent pain reliever

In India, curcumin is known as a potent pain reliever. It has been used for centuries to cure different kinds of pain.

But even scientific research has shown it works. One study also found that it works just as well as Advil for people with arthritis [7].

Its antioxidant properties are a gem

Oxidative stress is known to be the cause of many age-related diseases. Oxidative stress comes about as a result of free radicals.

Free radicals are unstable molecules that are produced during normal metabolic processes. When these free radicals bond with critical organic substances in the body, they can cause serious harm.

Antioxidants are vital in the body because they can neutralize free radicals. Curcumin can do this due to its chemical structure. It also helps stimulate your body’s natural antioxidants [8].

May help alleviate arthritis

We have already talked about curcumin’s anti-inflammatory properties. These properties may also help with alleviating the pain due to arthritis.

This has even been supported by science. There is a study that showed that curcumin could be more potent than anti-inflammatory drugs [9]. It was beneficial for patients with Rheumatoid arthritis.

May also help prevent age-related diseases

Most age-related diseases are a result of oxidative stress and inflammation. Since curcumin has potent antioxidants and inflammatory, it can help prevent age-related diseases.

Can help with depression

Sometimes you get depression due to the declining levels of BDNF in the brain. Curcumin can help increase those levels and alleviate the symptoms of depression.

In a study [10], participants were split into three groups. The first group took Prozac. The second group took curcumin, while the final group combined Prozac and curcumin.

The experiment ended after six weeks. At this point, the first two groups showed the same improvement. But the group that combined Prozac and curcumin showed the best results.

There have also been some private studies that alluded that curcumin can also help increase the production of dopamine and serotonin. These two are in the group of ‘happy hormones’ that alleviate the effects of depression.

Can help reduce the risk of heart diseases

Heart disease is a natural disaster. It kills more people than any other disease in the world. Curcumin can help prevent heart diseases by first improving how the lining of your blood vessels work.

This lining is called the endothelium and most heart diseases come about when it malfunctions. When the endothelium is not working correctly, it cannot control blood pressure or clotting.

There is a study that says curcumin is as good for the heart as….wait for it, exercise [11]! Who would have thought?

There is also a heart drug called atorvastatin. There is a study that shows that curcumin is as good as this drug [12].

It can also help reduce the bad cholesterol and triglycerides that cause heart disease. Oxidative stress and inflammation may also lead to heart diseases. As we have already seen, curcumin can deal with them.

There was a study that had about 120 participants who were having coronary artery by-pass. One group took 4grams of curcumin while another took a placebo. After the study, the curcumin group had a 65% less chance of getting a heart attack [13].


 

Is it safe?

Curcumin is very safe and mostly all we hear is people singing its praises. In a study trying to test for side effects, ten adults took about 500mg per day for seven days [14].

After the week, they did not suffer any side effects.

In another study the subject took between 1200mg and 2100mg per day for 2 to 6 weeks. They also did not suffer any side effects. [15, 16]


 

Health benefits of Curcumin

Health Benefits of Curcumin

  • Helps in wound healing
  • Can aid in regulating blood sugar and prevent diabetes
  • Curcumin can reduce bad cholesterol and promote cardiac health
  • Its anti-inflammatory properties can help treat arthritis
  • It can be beneficial for depression patients
  • Curcumin can also help you improve and maintain brain health

 

Side effects

There has been no evidence showing side effects when taking normal doses of curcumin.

However, should you exceed the 2000mg mark more than once a day and possibly go up 2500 mg, you may experience some side effects.

You may get:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Issues with digestion
  • Skin rashes

But even we feel, 2500mg a day is a bit excessive.

If, for any reason, you take more than 30000mg, you will suffer. When this experiment was done on rats, they suffered from liver diseases.

Some of them even had stained fur and stomach ulcers as well.


 

Usage and dosing considerations

There hasn’t yet been a consensus on the maximum amount of curcumin you should take. However, it mostly comes as a supplement and the manufacturer will recommend a dosage.

You shouldn’t take more than the dosage prescribed.

That being said, there are also some guidelines on how to take the supplement. According to the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA), you may take curcumin according to your body weight.

For every pound of your body weight, they advise you to take 1.4 mg of curcumin [17].


 

Risks and Precautions

Curcumin is great for your health. It has so many health benefits.

But like everything else in this world, nothing works the same for everybody. Different people react to different things. It may be due to overdosing or your metabolism.

Here are a few things you need to look out for.

Blood-thinning

Curcumin is useful for getting rid of toxins. However, this benefit may lead to you bleeding more easily. The low cholesterol levels and blood pressure may also be a cause.

We, therefore, advise that you do not take turmeric when on blood-thinning drugs without talking to your doctor.

You may have an upset stomach

Curcumin encourages the stomach to produce more gastric acid. While this may help with digestion for some people, it can cause severe discomfort for others.

There is no easy way to know which group you fall in. The best thing is to stop taking the supplement once you start having stomach discomfort.

It can bring about early contractions

There have been some reports that curcumin can bring about labor. Though there isn’t enough research to back these claims, we cannot just dismiss them.

It is our advice that pregnant women should stay away from this supplement to be safe.


 

FAQs

Can I take curcumin every day

Absolutely! You can take curcumin every day. There haven’t been reports of any side effects of doing so. Plus the supplement has amazing benefits.

Can you take curcumin on an empty stomach?

You can take curcumin on an empty stomach. You can take it at any time.

What is the best time to take curcumin?

Any time is curcumin time. You can take it in the morning, before meals, after meals. Basically, anytime you feel like it.

Can Curcumin hurt your kidneys?

There is no evidence that taking curcumin has a negative effect on your kidneys. It is actually good for your kidneys.

There is a study that shows that taking curcumin can improve kidney function. The subjects of the study had type II diabetes and declining kidney functions [18].

Is Curcumin good for arthritis?

Short answer: YES. This is one of the benefits that result from its anti-inflammatory properties. The pain that comes with arthritis is usually due to prolonged inflammation.

Curcumin has been found to be even more potent than most other inflammatory medication. It is highly recommended for people suffering from arthritis.

Can curcumin help with PMS?

There has been a study done that proved that curcumin can help alleviate PMS to an extent. The study showed that if you take about 200mg daily could help.

You should start taking it a week prior to your period. Continue until three days after the period for the best results.

However, this was just one study and more needs to be done to have a conclusive result.

 Can my liver benefit from curcumin?

Curcumin’s antioxidant properties may help protect your liver. Since your liver encounters many toxins, curcumin can help protect your liver from damage.

This is especially for people who use many drugs over a long period of time.


 

Summary

We have seen so many ingredients around here. But curcumin is one of the best ingredients we have ever researched.

We like that it is natural because those are usually our favorite kinds of ingredients. It also has some of the best benefits you can find from any supplement.

When you purchase the supplement, we advise that you follow the usage instructions to the latter. You should also consider the company from which you are buying.

If a company has a good reputation with other products, then their products are likely safe.

Something else you should consider when purchasing curcumin supplements is combining it with a Bioperine product. Bioperine is the active ingredient in black pepper and it helps with the absorption of curcumin.

When you combine the two supplements, curcumin’s absorption rate goes up by up to 20 times. This also means you get the maximum benefits as well.

We also advise that you stop taking any supplements if you have any discomfort. And also, check out the precautions.

We always recommend people on medication, those below 18 years, and pregnant women to stay away from supplements. These groups of people should only use supplements prescribed by doctors.

We like this supplement, and we would advise you to get it if you want to experience any of the benefits we mentioned.

But even then, you should make sure you purchase it from a reputable manufacturer.

Related:

 


References

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12676044
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17885582
  3. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0166432812006997
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18462866
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2758121/
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21372035
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19678780
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15650394
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22407780
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23832433
  11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23146777
  12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23146777
  13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22481014
  14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1291482
  15. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3546166
  16. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7390600
  17. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22481014
  18. https://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/efsajournal/pub/1679
  19. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21627399

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