Curcumin is the main active ingredient in turmeric and has many health benefits.
Curcumin in turmeric comes from a flowering plant of the ginger family. It is grown in many Asian countries. In India, for instance, it is used to help treat skin conditions, digestive problems as well as various aches and pains.
Curcumin and turmeric are powerful allies in overall health and cancer treatment. However, the whole turmeric is ineffective because there is only a small amount of curcumin in it.
Curcumin is very poorly absorbed into the bloodstream from the gastrointestinal tract. Approximately 1% of what is ingested is actually absorbed. It is impossible to achieve enough tissue penetration using whole turmeric. This is why curcumin should be used in cuisine and in medical interventions.
Curcumin has many known anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor, and antioxidant health benefits. As an anti-inflammatory agent, it matches the effectiveness of some drugs minus the side effects. It acts as a bioactive substance that “fights inflammation at a molecular level”.
It does this by blocking NF-kB which is the molecule that travels into the cells and turns on the inflammation-related genes. This same molecule is also known to play a major role in chronic diseases.
It also boosts the levels of BDNF, a brain hormone that increases the growth of new neurons. It can even delay or reverse brain diseases and age-related decreases in cognitive function. Curcumin improves the function of the endothelium—the lining of the blood vessels. Endothelial dysfunction is the main factor in cardiovascular disease.
Other health benefits of curcumin include relieving osteoarthritis symptoms. This compound also helps regulate body fat by inhibiting the inflammatory pathway involved in obesity, improving blood sugar metabolism among diabetics. In addition, it also disrupts fungal cell membranes and reducing the growth of disease-causing bacteria.
Curcumin Health Benefits For Cancer Patients
Both laboratory and epidemiological studies have shown that curcumin has a multitude of anti-cancer effects. Research has shown that there are quite low rates of cancer in countries where people regularly eat 100mg to 200mg of curcumin a day over long periods of time (healthline.com/nutrition/turmeric-vs-curcumin#turmeric-vs-curcumin).
More published studies have shown that it is effective against cancers of the breast, prostate, liver, colon, lung, and pancreas, among others. Many of these studies have shown curcumin stops cancer cells from dividing, causes them to “commit suicide”, prevents spreading (metastases) and stops them from forming in the first place.
Curcumin can target cancer cells while leaving healthy cells unharmed. This is in broad contrast to traditional treatments like chemotherapy, which destroys all cells, including the healthy ones.
It also has anti-angiogenic properties that prevent new blood vessels from forming so that the cancer cells cannot grow or spread. Curcumin affects over 100 molecular pathways once it gets into the cell and this fights cancer by preventing healthy cells from becoming cancer cells, halting the growth of mutated cells and blocking the proteins necessary to form tumors.
Intravenous curcumin is readily absorbed which is very important for people with cancer. Because it is fat-soluble, adding it as part of an intravenous solution allows for broader distribution throughout the body.
When it is used as an injection and put directly in a cancerous tumor, it has been found that residual levels of curcumin linger for a period of up to 30 days. As a result of these residual levels, the programmed cell death or apoptosis and tumor growth inhibition is greatly increased.