Curcumin, a natural polyphenol compound found in turmeric, is bursting with promise in many areas of health and disease, a few of which are explored below:
- Curcumin improves lipid profiles, lowering LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, as well as decreasing lipid peroxidation that triggers inflammatory responses involved in development of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular diseases
- Curcumin protects nerve cells, has anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory actions in the brain and may have a role in Alzheimer’s disease prevention
- Curcumin has multiple anti-cancer effects and is being investigated for uses alongside chemotherapy to target drug-resistant cancer cells and cancer stem cells (cells that help generates new tumour cells)
Several more exciting aspects of curcumin’s actions are outlined below:
Given the many benefits of curcumin, it is no wonder we would want to incorporate it into our diets and maybe consider supplementation if appropriate. The challenge with curcumin, however, is that it is poorly dissolved in water, making it hard for people to absorb. When using turmeric as a spice in cooking it is therefore important to use it with cooking oils and black pepper, which contains piperine to improve curcumin absorption.
When considering supplements if clinically appropriate, it is crucial to find formulations that really work in increasing curcumin assimilation, such as liposomal or solid lipid formulations. These enhance availability of curcumin more than older formulas containing piperine and additionally protect it from breakdown, which means you get a better therapeutic effect. Please note that it is important to consult with a nutritional therapist when considering supplements to ensure safety, particularly if you are taking any prescribed medications.