Supplement Legitimacy Series: Curcumin

There are a lot of supplements out there.  Their claims can be based on a range of unpublished reports, studies lacking of credibility, and urban legends.  It’s difficult to wade through all of the advertisements and marketing to find a legitimate product.  Coupling my work experience in the supplement industry with my degree in nutrition; I’m looking to clear things up.

Curcumin is the principle component of turmeric.  Turmeric is native to Southeast Asia and its roots are boiled, dried, and ground into a deep orange/yellow powder.  Turmeric has long been a staple of Indian curries and foods like mustard (it’s responsible for the golden color).

There are few products on the supplement market that have shown as many potential avenues of health support as Curcumin.  Some of the published studies include:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • various eye disorders
  • pain management
  • neuropathies
  • diabetes
  • inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  • sports nutrition
  • myelofibrosis
  • psoriasis

Through all of these studies, its primary benefit on the body is via its effect on inflammation. Inflammation is your body’s attempt to heal itself after an injury but can also play a detrimental role in some chronic diseases.  Inflammation can lead to pain, stiffness, and discomfort because the inherent swelling pushes against sensitive nerve endings which send pain signals to our brain.

A recent review article from the Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine wrote positively about five clinical applications (rheumatoid arthritis, organ transplantation, cardiovascular disease, neurodegenerative disorders, and gastrointestinal disorders) and its use in cancer treatment and prevention.

I’m including this article in the Legitimacy Series because the authors “have neither conflicts of interests nor any sources of funding to disclose” and it effectively consolidates the findings of 64 clinical studies.  But if you’re interested in reading all 64 of them, most of the abstracts are available for free.

Curcumin Legitimacy: Confirmed.

Author: Tony Scartozzi

Tony Scartozzi was born and raised in a small town in Eastern Washington. After moving to Seattle in 2001, he attended Bastyr University and graduated with a degree in Nutrition. Driven by his passion for public health, his career has spanned the nonprofit sector, senior housing resources, food service training, and now works for a nutraceutical company that produces market-leading plant extracts used for supplemental health. Observing the severe disparity between advertisement spin and research-based knowledge, Tony has spent many years trying to identify and reconcile the difference. With Tony’s parents’ age beginning to show, his desire to investigate health-related topics has become a very personal one.

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