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Curcumin is an active ingredient found in turmeric. It has proven antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
Today you are going to learn about the potential benefits of curcumin.
Turmeric (or Haldi / Indian Saffron) is a spice predominantly used in South Asia. It is an important ingredient in curries.
In India, turmeric is used to treat the digestive system, skin problems, and body pain.
Have a quick look at some more benefits of turmeric below.
The spice is also used as a colouring agent in a variety of dishes since it possesses a characteristic yellow colour.
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Now, turmeric has many plant substances, but one group, namely curcuminoids, primarily add to the health benefits of turmeric.
The most important ones are bisdemethoxycurcumin, curcumin and demethoxycurcumin. Out of these, curcumin is the most active and beneficial component in the herb.
Curcumin is responsible for the turmeric’s distinct flavour. Interestingly, it constitutes around 2-8% of most turmeric preparations.
I guess we have seen much about both curcumin and turmeric.
Finally, let’s see some of the benefits of curcumin.
Alzheimer’s disease is a widely recognised neurogenerative (a brain condition) disorder in the world and the leading cause of dementia.
Unfortunately, there’s no good treatment for Alzheimer’s disease out there.
But wait, prevention is better than cure, and research shows that curcumin can cross the blood-brain barrier.
Hence, it minimises the pathological process of Alzheimer’s disease. However, much research is needed to prove whether curcumin can lower the symptoms or reduce the disease altogether.
This is one of the crucial benefits of curcumin.
As we all know, cancer frightens our spines and is a scary disease, resulting in uncontrollable cell growth.
Studies show that curcumin can reduce the growth of carcinogenic (read cancerous) cells and reduce angiogenesis and metastasis.
Honestly, it is possible that curcumin might be used in conventional cancer treatment in the future.
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Diseases related to the heart contribute to the majority of deaths all around the world.
There are many reasons for it. But we’ll look here how curcumin can help alleviate heart disease.
The endothelium is the lining of the blood vessels, and endothelium dysfunction is a big factor driving heart disease. And curcumin helps eliminate the risk of heart disease by improving endothelium function. Also, it is more effective than exercise and Atorvastatin (a drug used to decrease bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol in the blood).
A case study randomly assigned 121 people undergoing coronary bypass surgery, to take a dosage of 4 grams of curcumin per day or placebo, a few days before and after the surgery.
The curcumin group showed a 65% decrease in the risk of heart-related diseases.
One of the very possible benefits of curcumin, it can potentially increase brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a growth hormone responsible for neuron growth and multiplication.
Mental disorders like depression and Alzheimer diseases (recently discussed above) can result in reduced levels of BDNF. However, curcumin can effectively work wonders towards brain function and brain diseases.
Also, it can improve memory and make you smarter. But further research is needed to prove this.
The most important benefit of curcumin out of all. Curcumin’s antioxidant nature helps the body fight against free radicals. Essentially, what it does is neutralise them.
Free radicals are highly reactive molecules with unpaired electrons. (yes, we all have learnt chemistry in elementary school). And they react with important organic substances such as DNA, proteins and fatty acids. (biology, too!).
This interference causes oxidative damage, a driving factor behind ageing and many other body diseases.
Matter of fact, curcumin enhances the production of our body’s own antioxidant enzymes.
One of the important benefits of curcumin to be considered.
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When we look at the benefits of curcumin, we must realise that it is a strong anti-inflammatory compound.
Look, inflammation is important to us.
It helps the body to fight against foreign invaders and repair the potential damage.
Without its presence, pathogens like bacteria can take over your body and potentially kill you.
Acute or short-term inflammation inside the body is fine to go along, but if it becomes chronic, it might attack our own body tissues for no reason.
More importantly, chronic inflammation can result in major Western diseases like cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer’s (I just wrote about all three of these).
With curcumin being an anti-inflammatory compound, it fights inflammation at the molecular level.
It is so powerful that you can use it instead of known anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin, diclofenac, and ibuprofen. Plus, curcumin doesn’t have these drugs’ side effects.
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A controlled study done on 60 people with depression came into a conclusion that curcumin can be as effective as an antidepressant, such as Prozac.
As we discussed above that curcumin boosts BDNF levels, and lowers the shrinking of the hippocampus, it further results in the reversing of the symptoms of depression.
Arthritis is a common disorder mainly causing inflammation in the joints. And it is more prevalent amongst our elders.
Given the compound’s reputed and potent anti-inflammatory property, a study shows that for curing rheumatoid arthritis (RA), curcumin can be effective than a few anti-inflammatory drugs.
Here is a short, informative video on Turmeric for you:
Curcumin, an active ingredient found in turmeric, is a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent, that can potentially fight against mental disorders (like depression and Alzheimer’s disease), heart disease, and cancer.
I want to give you a final yet important note. Despite curcumin’s innumerable health benefits, it is poorly absorbed by the body. So you might want to take a curcumin supplement combined with piperine (found in black pepper). Or take turmeric (curcumin) with a fatty meal (since curcumin is fat-soluble).
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I hope you have learnt about several of the benefits of curcumin.
Thanks for reading and as always, stay safe and aware!