If you have watched the news recently or walked down the supplement aisle at the grocery store, you probably have seen the herb turmeric or heard of the benefits. As of late, turmeric has stolen the show when it comes to decreasing system inflammation due to a big push in recent research of the native southern Asian plant.
Turmeric is a perennial plant from the ginger family that has been used for thousands of years, first as a dye and then a medicinal supplement. The anti inflammatory component of turmeric is called curcurmin which is part of the curcuminoid family and makes up only 3% of the total composition of turmeric, meaning only 3% of the turmeric we eat is actually the anti inflammatory component!
Although curcurmin makes up only a small percentage of turmeric, numerous studies have shown that it can have profound effects not only on decreasing overall inflammation, but can affect mood, blood pressure and liver function.
Let’s start with how curcumin actually lowers your overall inflammation, rather than just blocking it. Curcurmin is responsible for down regulating an enzyme called COX-2, which is responsible for the formation of prostaglandins and prostanoids, which are two inflammatory chemicals. Therefore, with the decrease in COX-2, there is a decrease in the chemicals that create inflammation. A study done in 2012 of 45 patients demonstrated that the effects of curcurmin were greater than the prescribed anti-inflammatory drug at reducing the symptoms of inflammation.
Curcurmin has also been shown to decrease depression by having similar effects to the drug Prozac as shown in a 6 week study. It does this by increasing the level of something called Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) which is a growth hormone in the brain that assists in neurons dividing and multiplying. This mechanism not only can lessen the effects of depression, it can delay or even reverse many brain and age related diseases.
Aside from decreasing inflammation and improving overall mood, it has also been shown to lower blood pressure and the chance of blood clots by improving the endothelial function of our blood vessels. Curcurmin also has positive effects on liver function as well as improving skin moisture by up to 15%.
With the newly discovered positive effects that turmeric has, it has become widely available at just about any super market or health food store. The next question is how do we know which brand is pure turmeric without fillers and which brand isn’t? We not only recommend it to our patients, we use it ourselves. We use a product from Integrative Therapeutics called Theracurmin HP. We choose to use this particular supplement in our practice based on the strong reputation of the company, as well as the unparalleled effects Theracurmin HP has on reducing systemic inflammation. Integrative Therapeutics have found a way to manufacture turmeric so that is 27 TIMES more bioavailable for absorption than eating turmeric alone. We have seen this supplement be very effective with a reduction in musculoskeletal pain, chronic headaches, pain from sprains and strains associated with trauma and muscular fatigue. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to talk with your doctor about how you might benefit from this amazing supplement!
-Dr. Ajay Iselin