I wanted to write about curcumin again. It has become incredibly popular for helping with reducing pain and inflammation in the body- and rightly so- it really does work. New research is coming out all the time confirming its many benefits, which go far beyond just pain relief.
Curcumin, the active ingredient in the spice turmeric, has been said by many to be “the most anti-inflammatory herb on the planet”. It is difficult for the body to absorb, however, and in the past, people needed to consume mass amounts of the strongly pigmented yellow spice to be able to get enough of that beneficial extract, curcumin, to make a difference. I love eating turmeric (turmeric is the yellow spice used in many curries), but ground turmeric root is generally only 4% curcumin, so supplements are the best answer if you’re looking to get the benefits reported again and again in the scientific studies.
Even supplemental extracts of turmeric or curcumin can be difficult for the body to absorb, which is why there are very specific forms that we recommend. The company Solgar has a branded extract that they use which has been scientifically documented to be one hundred and eighty-five times better absorbed than standard curcumin extracts. If you’re interested, you can search go to our website for more information and the links to the study, or go to PubMed.gov, since I fully agree that it almost sounds too good to be true.
We are all about science at Pass Health Foods. Sometimes I think people have the idea that natural products, vitamins, and herbs are a bunch of “hippie nonsense”, but in our store, the products we recommend are scientifically backed by research. There are times when conventional pharmaceuticals are necessary, but if you can find natural products that legitimately work, without the side effects of conventional medicines, it can be a wonderful thing.
So, back to curcumin: studies have shown again and again its benefit for pain relief, finding it equal to commercially available pain medications and NSAID drugs, but without the strain those medicines have on the liver. Ibuprofen and other drugs definitely do help with pain, but they are not meant to be taken over and over again on a daily basis. Curcumin is a great alternative, which rather than being hard on the liver, it can actually help with liver function.
In addition to pain relief, curcumin supplements have also been shown in research to have impressive results for reducing anxiety and depression, one study even found curcumin supplementation to be as effective as a prescription drug for depression, but without the side effects.
New research has also introduced curcumin as a possible aid to weight loss. One thirty day study followed people who were already on a diet and exercise regimen. They found an increased percentage of weight loss in the group who took curcumin, but even more than that was the reduction of body fat percentage for the people who took curcumin vs. the placebo group. Over thirty days the group who used diet and exercise alone had a .70% reduction in total body fat loss, but the group who used curcumin had an average of 8.43% reduction in body fat!
Curcumin supplementation has also been linked to a reduction in several types of cancers. In the past, the poor absorption of curcumin supplements was a problem for showing results in human studies, but now with newly formulated extracts like Solgar’s Full Spectrum Curcumin, which have significantly increased the body’s ability to absorb the nutrient, that is changing. Curcumin has been shown to inhibit cancer cells, prevent tumor formation, as well as slow cancer progression, and can be a helpful adjunct to traditional cancer therapies (though as with everything, be sure to inform your physician of any natural products you are taking, especially during cancer treatment).
So to sum up, while curcumin is best known for reducing joint pain and inflammation, it has many other scientifically documented benefits. Not all turmeric or curcumin supplements are equal in how well they are absorbed, so at this time, the only curcumin product we truly recommend is Solgar’s Full Spectrum Curcumin, for the simple reason that it has been shown to be so much better absorbed than any other. Since it’s a product we recommend so highly, we were able to work out a deal with the company to be able to offer 25% off on our Solgar curcumin on an everyday basis at Pass Health Foods. Stop by the store for more information, we’d love to help you further.