The Turmeric Plant (Curcuma longa) is native to India. It has been revered there as a sacred plant for 5,000 years and comes from the ginger family, also known as Chinese root or yellow ginger. It has been used in Ayurveda, Indian medicine, for just as long. Turmeric is a golden-yellow root that, when dried and powdered, gives the curry its characteristic color.
How healthy is turmeric?
In India and China, turmeric is a centuries-old medicinal plant used to treat age-related diseases. Turmeric contains up to 5% curcuminoids and an essential oil (up to 6%) consisting mainly of zingiberene, curcumol and tumerone.
Only recently has the healing power of turmeric been used medicinally in Europe.
The main ingredient of Turmeric plant is that Curcumin (English: Curcumin). Curcumin is a phytonutrient that gives turmeric its golden-orange color. Secondary plant substances can be found in all plants, they serve here as a dye or as a defense against pests. These plant substances have a health-promoting effect on the human body.
In specialist medicine, the positive properties of the secondary plant substances are proven and generally recognised. The potential of curcumin has also been proven by a number of studies since 1987. These show that curcumin has a variety of properties. The main focus here is on the factor of preventive or accompanying therapy. Evidence has been found to suggest that curcumin:
- supports digestion.
- Possesses anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and antioxidant properties.
- can be used as an adjunctive therapy for diabetes
- can be used as an accompanying therapy for Alzheimer's dementia
- can be used as an accompanying therapy for arteriosclerosis
But even though turmeric, and here specifically curcumin, has been tested in numerous cell culture and animal experiments with very promising results, it should be noted that extremely high dosages were usually used. Such high doses (up to a few grams of pure curcumin) cannot be ingested through food. For this purpose, special preparations in the form of extracts were used.
In addition, the Curcumin bioavailability is severely restricted. Curcumin is a fat-soluble plant substance, which means the body can only absorb it with the help of fatty acids (so-called lipids). Curcumin is therefore poorly soluble in water and not very stable. So only very small amounts are absorbed from the intestine and into the cells.
How can I use turmeric? safety and dosing
On the basis of a "No observed effect level" (NOEL) of 250 - 320 mg/kg body weight per day and taking into account a safety factor, a tolerable daily intake of up to 0-3 mg curcumin per kg body weight per day was determined for food.
The European authority EFSA has set the maximum daily dose for food at 3 mg curcumin/kg body weight.
Many dietary supplements on the market today contain dosages that are far above the defined maximum values. Doses of 500 mg curcumin and more are not uncommon.
In general, the intake of high-dose curcumin preparations should be discussed with a specialist.
What are the side effects of turmeric?
With too much turmeric resp. Curcumin dosages have occasionally been observed to cause problems with the gastrointestinal tract and digestion. Overall, taking curcumin is very safe. In studies, no side effects were found when taking up to 12 g/day over 3 months.
Curcumin as an additive
Curcumin is approved as an additive and bears the E number Curcumin (E 100). The use of additives is of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in regulation (EC) No 1333/2008 fixed.
Curcumin is often used as a coloring agent in cheese production.
It is found as an additive in countless foods. It is often used as a coloring in cheese production, depending on the production, a maximum of 100-150 mg/kg is permitted.
Turmeric in combination with vitamin D
It is generally accepted that phytochemicals and vitamins form natural synergies. This means that they complement each other in their mode of action. It is not for nothing that fruit and vegetables are so healthy, because they contain the vital substances mentioned.
Vitamin D in particular is very interesting here. It has properties similar to curcumin. It is fat-soluble, so it can only be removed with the help of Fatty acids are absorbed by the body and have antioxidant properties. Vitamin D supports the immune system and promotes the formation of bone tissue. It is also essential for normal muscle function. A combination of both substances makes sense.
For a combination of turmeric and vitamin D, we recommend Beyond Curcu-D.
Current study situation on turmeric
Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties
Due to the antioxidant properties of curcumin, it helps curb inflammatory processes caused by free radicals in the body. Like many other secondary plant substances, it therefore has anti-inflammatory properties.
A mixture of turmeric powder, extract and piperine unleashes the full power of curcumin.
As an antioxidant and due to its anti-inflammatory properties, it can therefore be used for almost any chronic problem (or its prevention).
In a 1980 study, 18 patients with rheumatoid arthritis were treated with 1.2 g of curcumin per day. The result showed a trend towards improvement of the symptoms (Deodhar et al., 1980).
Anticancer properties (cancer formation)
Studies have found that curcumin can inhibit cancer formation in the body. New clinical studies are currently being commissioned to further research this effect. Cancer develops when the body's own cells divide independently, progressively and excessively. Curcumin acts here on the malformation of cells and can thus inhibit the formation of tumor cells. It acts as a switch for special transcription factors. These transcription factors regulate all genes that are required for tumor formation. It turns off the relevant transcription factors to stop the growth and spread of cancer cells.
The anti-cancer effect was investigated using the example of prostate cancer, among other things. The turmeric active ingredient sat in vitro reduced the responsiveness of the androgen and epidermal growth factor receptors (downregulation), inhibited cell proliferation, the formation of pro-inflammatory messengers and induced the mechanisms that lead to the death of cancer cells. (Hasima and Aggarwal, 2012).
In 62 patients with skin cancer lesions, an orally administered alcohol extract as well as a topical preparation of turmeric improved the symptoms. The unpleasant odor disappeared in 90% of patients, the itching in almost all. In about 10% of patients, the size of the skin lesions decreased. Side effects occurred in only one patient (probably allergy-related itching) (Kuttan et al., 1987).
In 3 open studies in patients with pancreatic carcinoma, 8 g curcumin per day was administered to 17 to 25 patients. This high dose of curcumin was not always well tolerated by the gastrointestinal tract. Overall, however, the effect on carcinoma was rated as favorable (Dhillon et al., 2008, Epelbaum et al., 2010, Kanai et al., 2011).
Curcumin and the immune system
Curcumin has antimicrobial and antioxidant properties that actively support the immune system in the fight against free radicals. Curcumin not only works on its own, but in combination with the approx. 300 other secondary plant substances, minerals and vitamins that can be found in the turmeric plant.
Curcumin in cognitive disorders
Curcumin has the special property that it can penetrate the blood-brain barrier. There is increasing evidence that it may therefore protect against neurodegenerative diseases. However, further studies are still needed.
Curcumin and Pregnancy
During pregnancy, the female body is in a state of emergency. All metabolism is adapted to nourish and protect the fetus. Many other metabolic processes in the mother's body also change. Studies of phytochemicals related to pregnancy and fetal development are very rare and insufficient for accurate assessment.
Even if curcumin, as described above, is very promising in terms of its potential positive properties, based on the current data situation, one must advise against taking it during pregnancy. The study mentioned here offers further insight:
The bioavailability of curcumin
The Curcumin bioavailability is by nature is severely restricted. Curcumin is a fat-soluble plant substance, which means the body can only absorb it with the help of fatty acids (so-called lipids). Curcumin is therefore poorly soluble in water and not very stable. So only very small amounts are absorbed from the intestine and into the cells.
So black pepper increases the bioavailability of curcumin many times over.
In the study "Influence of piperine on the pharmacokinetics of curcumin in animals and human volunteers." increased the dose of 20mg pepper the bioavailability of curcumin by 2000% during the first 1-2 hours after ingestion. Other studies have also proven the effectiveness of black pepper as a bio-enhancer.
Piperine is supplemented with curcumin, as it also has health-supporting properties as a secondary plant substance.
pepper is a phytochemical found in black pepper. There it serves as a flavoring agent and is responsible for the sharp taste.
Too high a dose of piperine can cause irritation of the gastrointestinal tract.
The current safety record for taking piperine is noisy EFSA has given a NOAEL of 5 mg/kg/day. It should be noted that taking too much piperine can unnecessarily irritate the gastrointestinal tract.
Turmeric and the curcumin it contains are certainly among the natural active ingredients of the 21st century. For this reason, it is an integral part of the Beyond Nutrition nutrient range. Of course, we cannot transfer many of the aforementioned properties to a dietary supplement, but it is generally true that secondary plant substances such as curcumin possess health-promoting properties and undiscovered potential.