What is curcumin? Curcumin is the yellow pigment/antioxidant found in the spice turmeric and which also gives mustard its bright yellow color. Used for centuries in Asian medicine to treat everything from heartburn to arthritis, it is now getting a closer look by Western scientists to see how it can help prevent or treat cancer as well as reduce inflammation. In fact, according to Advanced Experimental Medical Biology published in 2007, "Curcumin has been shown to exhibit antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and anticancer activities and thus has a potential against various malignant diseases, diabetes, allergies, arthritis, Alzheimer's disease, and other chronic illnesses."
Among the many benefits of curcumin, it has been shown to slow the spread of cancer and new tumor blood vessel growth. It has even been reported to kill off cancer cells. It seems to be particularly effective in the treatment and prevention of cancer, particularly colon cancer, with study results showing that patients taking 3.6 grams a day have slowed down the progression of the disease. In fact, some studies have shown that it can inhibit colon cancer cells by some 96% in a matter of hours. It also appears to have great potential in countering the effects of prostate and breast cancer. In a sense, curcumin can be thought of as natural chemotherapy -- with the ability to selectively kill cancer cells, while at the same time leaving normal cells alone. Laboratory work has revealed that curcumin can decrease swelling and inflammation as well as clean up free radicals. This is one of the reasons you’ll find turmeric as an ingredient in Jon Barron’s Men’s Formula.
Curcumin is not just for cancer prevention since more studies are suggesting its value for arthritis treatment. One 3 month long study from Italy studied curcumin's effect on osteoarthritis of the knee. After 90 days, the researchers found a 58 percent decrease in overall reported pain and stiffness as well as an improvement in physical functioning among the curcumin group compared to the controls. Even more interesting, in the curcumin group, they found a 16-fold decline in C-reactive protein, a marker for inflammation, and patients were able to reduce their use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs by 63%. Since arthritis is so common today, this research is quite compelling for the millions who suffer from arthritis pain.
Other studies show even more health benefits for curcumin.
- A 2012 study showed that curcumin may contribute to as much as a 65% lower chance of heart attack among bypass patients.
- Another 2012 study showed that curcumin capsules may delay the onset of Type 2 diabetes among people with prediabetes.
- A review in 2008 suggests that curcumin may also help improve overall memory in Alzheimer’s patients.
The one stumbling block found so far is that curcumin (either in turmeric or when taken as a concentrated supplement) is not easily absorbed by the body. However, mixing it with fat appears to aid in its absorption. And in fact, some curcumin supplements have been designed to have much higher absorption levels such as the patented C3 Curcumin Complex® used in Jon Barron’s Ultimate Antioxidant formula.
It should be noted that, even if not fully absorbed, curcumin will be certain to reach the cells of the digestive tract, perhaps explaining its positive results with colon cancer. In other words, a study specifically on curcumin supplementation, colon cancer, and smoking might be particularly interesting. And while they're at it, they might want to add green tea catechins to the mix, since the combination of curcumin and green tea appears to be especially effective when it comes to colon cancer.