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10 Benefits of Curcumin
1. Prevent and Beating Cancer
As inflammation is linked to tumor growth, anti-inflammatory compounds such as curcumin may play a role in treating and preventing a variety of cancer types, including colorectal, pancreatic, prostate, breast, and gastric cancers.
In fact, research in mice suggests that curcumin may help slow the spread of tumor cells and may even prevent tumors from forming in the first place. It may do this in several ways, including disrupting the formation of cancerous cells at various stages in the cell cycle, interfering with cell signaling pathways, and even causing those cancerous cells to die.
In fact, in the right dose, curcumin may be a more effective anti-inflammatory treatment than common inflammation-fighting medications such as Advil (ibuprofen) and aspirin, according to a past study.
3. Protect Against Heart Disease
In one study, researchers compared the effects of an eight-week aerobic exercise program and a curcumin supplement in improving endothelial function in postmenopausal women. Both the exercise and the curcumin group saw equal improvements in endothelial function, whereas the control group saw no changes.
Another study found that curcumin was equally effective at improving endothelial function in people with type 2 diabetes (heart disease is a common comorbidity of type 2) as the drug Lipitor (atorvastatin), a medication commonly prescribed to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.
4. Help Ease Symptoms of Osteoarthritis
In a past study, people with osteoarthritis who took 1,000 mg/day of Meriva experienced significant improvements in stiffness and physical function after eight months, whereas the control group saw no improvements. Meriva is a proprietary treatment made up of a natural curcuminoid mixture (75 percent curcumin; 15 percent demethoxycurcumin; and 10 percent bisdemethoxycurcumin), phosphatidylcholine (a chemical found in eggs, soybeans, and other foods), and microcrystalline cellulose (a refined wood pulp commonly used by the pharmaceutical and food industries)
5. Help and Prevent Diabetes
One study found that feeding 80 mg of tetrahydrocurcumin (one of the main substances of curcumin) per kg of body weight to rats with type 2 diabetes for 45 days led to a significant decrease in blood sugar, as well as an increase in plasma insulin.
A study in obese mice with type 2 diabetes published in the July 2019 issue of Nutrition & Metabolism reveals that curcumin supplements helped lower blood insulin levels after 16 weeks.
Meanwhile, curcumin may help prevent diabetes through its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, and improve many of the factors that contribute to diabetes, including insulin resistance, high blood sugar, and hyperlipidemia (a medical term to describe elevated levels of fat in the blood; one type of hyperlipidemia is characterized by high levels of LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol).
6. Help Delay or Reverse Alzheimer’s Disease
Turmeric may even protect your brain against common degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. How? By increasing levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein found in the brain and spinal cord that plays a key role in keeping nerve cells (neurons) healthy, as well as regulating communication between nerve cells, which is critical for learning and memory.
As common brain disorders like Alzheimer’s are associated with lower levels of BDNF, turmeric (curcumin in particular) may help delay or reverse brain degeneration.
7. May Play a Role in Treating Depression
Like Alzheimer’s, depression is also associated with lower levels of BDNF. Thanks to turmeric’s ability to boost levels of BDNF, the spice shows promise as an effective antidepressant. In fact, one study found that injecting rats with 50, 100, or 200 mg/kg of curcumin for 10 days led to a dose-dependent increase in BDNF, with the higher dose of 200 mg/kg showing greater antidepressant effects.
Meanwhile, in a study in humans that was published in the April 2014 issue of Phytotherapy Research, researchers randomly assigned 60 patients with major depressive disorder to one of three groups: one group received daily 20 mg of fluoxetine (Prozac is a common brand name), another received 1,000 mg of curcumin, and a third received a combination of the two. By the end of six weeks, the three groups saw comparable improvements, leading researchers to suggest that curcumin may be a safe and effective treatment for major depressive disorder.
8. May Play a Role in Treating Rheumatoid Arthritis
In one study, people with RA were given 500 mg of curcumin, 50 mg of diclofenac sodium (a prescription nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug), or the two in combination.
After eight weeks, the curcumin-only group saw significant improvements in joint tenderness and swelling when compared with the other two groups. Researchers note the curcumin treatment was also safe, resulting in no harmful events.
9. Improve Skin Health
Thanks to its anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antioxidant properties, turmeric may be an effective treatment for a variety of skin conditions, including acne, eczema (atopic dermatitis), photoaging, and psoriasis. Yet robust research is lacking.
One review published in the January 2018 issue of Open Access Macedonian Journal of Medical Sciences suggests oral curcumin in particular may be an effective and safe treatment option for psoriasis (a chronic inflammatory skin disease)
10. Protects Your Body From Free Radicals
Antioxidants help protect your body against damage caused by free radicals, a class of highly reactive atoms that are generated in our bodies, as well as in environmental pollutants like cigarette smoke and industrial chemicals. Too much exposure to free radicals can mess with the fats, proteins, and even DNA in your body, which may lead to a number of common diseases and health conditions, including cancer, arthritis, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s. Therefore, antioxidant-rich spices like turmeric may play a role in protecting you from free radical damage.
Curcumin in particular is able to scavenge different types of free radicals, control enzymes that neutralize free radicals, and prevent certain enzymes from creating specific free radical types, according to a review in the October 2017 issue of Foods.