Curcumin, an organic compound extracted from the spice turmeric, is a flavonoid. It is the curcumin that gives the spice its bright yellow color. Turmeric, a relative of ginger, is in the family of plants called Zingiberaceae.
The spice turmeric contains a number of beneficial compounds, but the most important are the curcuminoids: curcumin, demethyoxycurcumin, and bisdemethoxycurcumin.
It is also neuroprotective, lowers cholesterol, and reduces hardening of the arteries.
However, curcumin does not dissolve in water, making it very difficult for the body to absorb. It will, however, dissolve in some fats, such as extra-virgin olive oil.
Studies have shown that this increases curcumin absorption by 11 times in plasma (the liquid component of blood in which cells are suspended) and fourfold in the brain.
Mixing with oil also allows concentrations of curcumin to become high enough in the brain to provide protection against inflammation.
Human studies have shown that even in very high doses (as much as 10,000 mg per day), curcumin has little toxicity. It is very safe and can even be given intravenously.
Turmeric is a staple of the Indian diet. Not surprisingly, colon cancer rates in India are a fraction of those in the West, and Alzheimer’s disease is one-quarter as prevalent.
Because Indians mix turmeric with fatty foods, it is absorbed very well.
I have often written that research convincingly suggests most disorders of the brain are the result of prolonged inflammation.
Usually, brain disorders result from low-grade, smoldering inflammation.
This inflammation can come from a number of sources, including viral infections, inhaling exhaust fumes, toxic metals (mercury, lead, cadmium, manganese, iron, copper), minor strokes, autoimmune diseases, food allergies, and brain injury.
Inflammation in the brain is triggered by a complex series of reactions within brain cells. When the brain becomes inflamed, specialized immune cells called microglia secrete toxic chemicals, including free radicals, lipid peroxidation products, excitotoxins, and immune messengers called cytokines.
These caustic chemicals slowly damage critical areas of the brain, destroying synapses (the connections between brain cells) and dendrites (the branched ends of brain cells that transmit signals in the brain). Eventually, these chemicals can kill brain cells.
The neurological disorder that develops with inflammation depends on the areas of the brain most affected.
For example, in Parkinson’s disease it is the midbrain (the substantia nigra and striatum). In Alzheimer’s disease, it is the hippocampus, frontal lobes, parietal lobes, and discrete areas of the brain stem that are most affected.
Curcumin has been shown to be the king of anti-inflammatories, working as well as, or better than, the most powerful prescription drugs.
© 2023 NewsmaxHealth. All rights reserved.