How Does Curcumin Reduce Inflammation?
Inflammation is the body’s natural defense against injuries and invading pathogens. The body uses a combination of heightened body temperature, free radicals, proteins and powerful macrophage cells to attack internal dangers and promote healing. And now for the bad news… While inflammation is an evolutionary development that has helped humans survive and adapt, it is a double-edged sword. Aging reduces our ability to regulate our inflammatory reactions; when aging is combined with a diet high in unhealthy fats and sugars, exposure to free radicals via environmental toxins, obesity and an inactive lifestyle, inflammation can become systemic or chronic. Our body begins to attack its own nerves and organs leading to degenerative disease.
In fact, the health conditions related to systemic inflammation reads like a “who’s-who” of today’s fastest rising and most debilitating diseases including arthritis and cardiovascular issues. In looking for safe, natural ways to help reduce the effects of systemic inflammation, one particular culinary spice is gaining much attention. Curcumin, the pigment that gives the fiery Indian dish curry its signature yellow colour, has a long tradition of anti inflammatory use. Turmeric and its active compound Curcumin are one of the most researched backed nutraceuticals on the market and have many known health benefits.
There have been over 2,400 scientific reviews of curcumin, many showing its potential as an anti-inflammatory, anticarcinogenic, antiviral, immune-modulator and cholesterol lowering nutrient. Curcumin is found in the Indian root turmeric. There are three curcuminoids that make up curcumin: curcumin, demethoxycurcumin and bis-demethoxycurcumin. Although curcumin clearly has tremendous potential for overall health due to its anti-inflammatory properties, its poor absorbability has been a challenge and has limited its effectiveness in clinical studies. It is estimated that as much as 75% of curcumin is directly excreted after ingestion.
New research revealed that a patented complex of curcumin with phosphatidylcholine improved blood levels of curcuminoids by 29 times over standard turmeric extracts and even higher levels in the liver.8 More absorption can lead to better anti-inflammatory effectiveness. Whether you are suffering from the common inflammatory disease of osteoarthritis, or want help in preventing some of today’s other major health conditions, curcumin can be a useful partner in putting out the inflammatory fire.
Which curcumin to choose? There are numerous curcumin products on the market utilizing a variety of methods to address the bioavailability issues related to this herbal medicine. One formulated curcumin that has shown tremendous promise for both enhanced bioavailability and antiinflammatory results is Meriva® curcumin. The bioavailability of Meriva® curcumin has been improved by “enveloping” the curcumin extract within phosphatidylcholine – a natural plant source phospholipid. Phosphatidylcholine is sourced from non-GMO soy lecithin. This novel entity of curcumin and phosphatidylcholine is known as a Phytosome®.
By using phosphatidylcholine to “envelop” the curcumin, two of the major issues that limit its absorption are addressed. First, the Phytosome® protects the delicate active curcuminoids from being damaged by by water (“hydrolosis”). Secondly, the limited ability of curcuminoids to cross the cell membrane to enter the bloodstream is circumvented. As a phosopholipid, Meriva® curcumin is able to pass much more efficiently across the cell membrane which is also a phospholipid. One might think of the process as a “Trojan horse” effect where the curcuminoids are shuttled by stealth through the membrane.
Meriva® - The World’s Most Proven Bioavailable Curcumin – Proving greater bioavailability for a curcumin material is good. Proving what a curcumin material will actually do for a patient’s health is even more important. With 24 positive, human clinical trials (as of October 2016), Meriva® stands apart from competitive curcumins as the most science-backed. This continued research has made Meriva® the curcumin of choice for such respected parties as the Cleveland Clinic (the #1 cardiovascular hospital in the USA), Thorne Research Labs (leading American naturopathic product line) and Dr. Parris Kidd, renowned researcher of natural remedies.
How much more efficiently does Meriva® curcumin enter the bloodstream vs standard curcumin extracts? In head-to-head comparisons, total curcuminoids in the blood have been shown to be elevated by 29x (or 2900%) in patients using Meriva®.
Osteoarthritis and joint pain – Two of the major studies conducted on Meriva® curcumin involved osteoarthritic pain. Osteoarthritis is the painful condition where joints rub against each other due to cartilage damage. The first study involved 50 osteoarthritic patients over a three-month period. At the end of the three-month period, those using 1,000 mg per day of Meriva® experienced the following improvements:
- pain measurement scores (pain, stiffness) during treadmill walks were decreased by 58% vs. a control group
- walking distance on treadmill tests increased over 4 times
- reduced blood levels of CRP (C-reactive protein), a key measurement of inflammation, by 16 times
- no adverse side-effects
- improved emotional well-being, resulting from increased mobility
- decreased need for nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) and painkillers
- reduced costs of treatment (less anti-inflammatory drugs, treatment and hospitalization)
A second eight-month study on joint pain with Meriva® curcumin was then conducted to validate the three-month study over a longer time-period. The positive findings of the three-month study were further confirmed by the eight-month study which evaluated another 100 osteoarthritic patients. After the second joint pain study was completed, the curiosity of the researchers was piqued. Although these were longer-term studies, doctors carrying out the study noted that many patients were experiencing pain relief in mere days, sometimes within hours. As it takes time for inflammation to be reduced sufficiently to provide pain relief, researchers felt that there must be other mechanisms at work with Meriva® than just anti-inflammation.
General pain relief: Indeed, in the follow-up to the joint pain studies, it was confirmed that Meriva® is not just an anti-inflammatory, but also an analgesic. This means that Meriva® acts to block pain pathways. A study was initiated to determine how powerful this analgesic effect could be. It was determined that 2,000 mg of Meriva® per day, had the equivalent pain-blocking effect as two extra strength acetaminophen doses.
The effect of the Meriva® was as fast and lasted as long as the acetaminophen. A number of pain types were evaluated including migraines and dental pain.13 It appears that Meriva® was blocking the same pain receptors as the acetaminophen. The major difference between the Meriva® and acetaminophen is in adverse side effects. Meriva® has no major side effects; whereas, acetaminophen has a wide range of potential issues including nausea, tiredness, stomach pain in the short-term, and possible liver damage and reduction of empathy with long-term use.