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Do you really know enough about Curcumin?
Traditional Medicine

Do you really know enough about Curcumin?

21/08/2019
Do you really know enough about Curcumin?

What is curcumin?


Curcumin is a secondary plant substance from the root of the ginger plant Curcuma longa[1]. That sounds complicated at first. In fact, this simply means that it is an organic molecule that performs special tasks in the plant that make plant life easier.

Curcumin is also a yellow pigment, the color of the curry spice. Because of its carbon rings, the molecule structure belongs to the family of polyphenols. 

It's part of a group of molecules called Curcuminoids, as well, which is consisting of three very similar variations of Curcumin. 


What is the difference between Curcumin and Curcuma?

When we talk about turmeric or Curcuma, we're talking about powder made from the Curcuma longa plant or root (rhizome).

The turmeric root is strongly reminiscent of ginger, which is why the term yellow ginger is also commonly used. The rhizome[2] is processed into a yellow powder. Turmeric is mainly used in Indian cuisine and the traditional medicine system Ayurveda.

Turmeric contains up to 5% curcuminoids[3] as well as essential oils, minerals and fibers.

They can be extracted and concentrated and are the active compounds that are studied in clinical trials. 

 

Which curcumin is the best?

The potential health benefits of curcumin are limited by:

  • its poor solubility
  • its poor uptake from the intestine
  • its rapid metabolism
  • and the rapid, systemic excretion


This low bioavailability[4] is particularly problematic when taking conventional turmeric powders.

Many products, therefore, contain the natural bioenhancer piperine from black pepper. To increase uptake and slow metabolization of Curcumin.

 

What is piperine?

Piperine is an active ingredient from black pepper. It is the first and best-described bioenhancer - a substance that can increase the absorption or effect of other molecules.

Since its discovery in India in 1979, an increase in the bioavailability of various drugs in the range between 30 and 200% has been proven. The bioavailability of curcumin is increased almost tenfold[5] by taking it together.


Curcuma without piperine - the most effective form?

Emulsions with other water-insoluble substances, e.g. fats, can improve the absorption of curcumin. Therefore, curcumin is very well absorbed in protective lipid spheres - such as micelles or liposomes - even without piperine[6],[7].

Here the poor solubility is compensated by the fats.

 

How do I take curcumin? How fast does curcumin show an effect?

Curcumin has a preventive or long-term effect and should, therefore, be part of the regular diet or be supplemented over a longer period of time in normal doses.

Because of its low bioavailability, curcumin is best taken in combination with pepper or in an emulsion with lipids[8].

 

How much Curcuma is healthy?

The European Food Safety Authority EFSA recommends a maximum of 3 mg curcumin per day and kilogram body weight[9]. At 70 kg body weight, this results in 210 mg per day.

Curcumin is also a common food dye (E100). It is therefore found in traces in many food groups.

 

What does curcumin do in the body?

Like most secondary plant compounds, curcumin has no essential function in the body. It is not a vitamin. However, some herbal substances like this are associated with other positive effects.

Various antioxidant properties have been described for curcumin[10]. Oxidation is a creeping process. It can be intensified by various factors such as lack of sleep, smoking, alcohol consumption, aging but also infections and can damage cell structures.

The molecule curcumin itself is proven to have an antioxidative effect. In addition, some results suggest that curcumin supports the activity of antioxidant enzymes such as SOD and GSH[11],[12],[13].

 

Is curcumin anti-inflammatory?

Research is also investigating an anti-inflammatory effect[14]. This anti-inflammatory effect is linked to antioxidation.

Immune cells communicate in centers of inflammation via oxidative signals[15]. On the other hand, a high level of oxidative molecules is able to promote inflammatory reactions. Systemic inflammations are associated with various chronic conditions.

Since curcumin has an antioxidative effect, it could also have an anti-inflammatory effect.

 

 

 

[1] https://www.spektrum.de/lexikon/biologie/curcumin/16072.

[2] https://www.spektrum.de/lexikon/biologie/wurzelstock/71124.

[3] https://www.uniklinik-freiburg.de/fileadmin/mediapool/08_institute/rechtsmedizin/pdf/Addenda/2016/Kurkuma_-_Wissenschaftliche_Zusammenfassung_2015.pdf.

[4] Bioavailability of curcumin: problems and promises. Anand P, Kunnumakkara AB, Newman RA, Aggarwal BB Mol Pharm. 2007 Nov-Dec; 4(6):807-18. 

[5] Shaikh J, Ankola DD, Beniwal V, Singh D, Kumar MN. Nanoparticle encapsulation improves oral bioavailability of curcumin by at least 9-fold when compared to curcumin administered with piperine as absorption enhancer. Eur J Pharm Sci. 2009;37:223–230.

[6] Cuomo u. a.: Comparative absorption of a standardized curcuminoid mixture and its lecithin formulation. In: J Nat Prod. 74(4), 25. Apr 2011, S. 664–669. PMID 21413691.

[7] N. K. Gupta, V. K. Dixit: Bioavailability enhancement of curcumin by complexation with phosphatidyl choline. In: J Pharm Sci. 100(5), Mai 2011, S. 1987–1995. PMID 21374628.

[8] Hewlings, Susan J, and Douglas S Kalman. “Curcumin: A Review of Its' Effects on Human Health.” Foods (Basel, Switzerland) vol. 6,10 92. 22 Oct. 2017, doi:10.3390/foods6100092.

[9] https://efsa.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.2903/j.efsa.2014.3876.

[10] Sahebkar A., Serbanc M.C., Ursoniuc S., Banach M. Effect of curcuminoids on oxidative stress: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. J. Funct. Foods. 2015;18:898–909. doi: 10.1016/j.jff.2015.01.005.

[11] Lipid, blood pressure and kidney update 2013. Banach M, Serban C, Aronow WS, Rysz J, Dragan S, Lerma EV, Apetrii M, Covic A Int Urol Nephrol. 2014 May; 46(5):947-61.

[12] Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin. Menon VP, Sudheer AR Adv Exp Med Biol. 2007; 595():105-25.

[13] Mitigation of Systemic Oxidative Stress by Curcuminoids in Osteoarthritis: Results of a Randomized Controlled Trial. Panahi Y, Alishiri GH, Parvin S, Sahebkar A J Diet Suppl. 2016; 13(2):209-20.

[14] https://campus.uni-saarland.de/forschung/curryinhaltsstoff-kurkumin-wirkt-wie-kortison-entzuendungshemmend.

[15] Biswas SK, Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2016; 2016():5698931. 

X Katharina Hoffmann

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