Dr. Jill Stocker is a board-certified physician. She practices Age Management Medicine & Hormonal Optimization at The Body Well in Los Angeles.
Q. I’ve been hearing people talk about the health benefits of turmeric lately. I thought it was just a spice used for cooking. Should I be taking it as a supplement?
A. Turmeric is a spice best known for its uses in Indian cooking, and is what gives curry its yellow color. It also contains compounds called curcuminoids, that have medicinal properties. The most important curcuminoid is curcumin. Curcumin works at two key levels in the body, it’s a strong anti-inflammatory agent as well as being a strong antioxidant.
Curcumin also helps delay aging at a molecular level with its antioxidant effects. Cellular functions in the body require oxygen, but sometimes the metabolic processes of this functioning can generate unhealthy byproducts, known as free radicals, which can ultimately damage the cells. The imbalance between the production of free radicals and the ability of the body to counteract their harmful effects is called oxidative stress. Antioxidants reduce oxidative stress by combatting the free radicals, preventing their damaging effects on the body.
Below are some of the known benefits of curcumin:
1. Reduction of heart disease and diabetes
Heart disease is the number one killer in the world of men AND women. Curcumin aides in reducing this by attacking three key components in cardiac function: 1. Reducing plaque formation, 2. Improving vascular function and 3. Reducing clumping of platelets that could potentially lead to blood clots/heart attack/stroke. Curcumin also lowers blood sugar levels, resulting in a lower incidence of impaired glucose tolerance and diabetes.
2. Decreased risk of cancer
Curcumin affects cancer growth, development, and spread at the molecular level. It has also been shown to stop the spread of tumors, and enhances antitumor effects of several chemotherapy drugs.
3. Less aches and pain
Curcumin’s anti-inflammatory effects rival many anti-inflammatory medications, leading to a significant reduction of generalized muscle and joint pains, as well as pains from arthritis. This allows for improved physical activity, which in turn reduces risk of heart disease, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome.
4. Improved mood
Studies performed comparing curcumin to a commonly known anti-depressant revealed patients on curcumin alone felt better than patients on the anti-depressant alone.
5. Improved digestion
Curcumin improves digestion by stimulating the gallbladder to produce bile, and decreases symptoms of bloating and gas. The decrease of inflammation in the digestive system, is supportive of nutrient, vitamin, and hormone absorption.
6. Improved memory
Curcumin boosts Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF). BDNF enables the neurons in the brain to form new connections. It also increases the overall number of neurons, improving memory and overall cognitive function.
7. Improved skin
Several skin conditions, such as acne, rosacea, eczema, and psoriasis have inflammation at the root of them. By decreasing this inflammation with curcumin, there are less outbreaks and/or flare ups. This results in less discoloration of the skin as well as improved skin texture.
Do I Need To Supplement With Turmeric?
The curcumin content of turmeric in the spice alone isn’t high enough to confer its full benefits; that’s why supplements are necessary. In addition, black pepper, which contains the key component of piperine, enhances the absorption of curcumin by 2,000%. Curcumin is fat soluble, so it’s best to take your supplement with a fatty meal. Curcumin in powder/tablet form is generally taken at 400-600 mg three times a day, and the fluid extract(1:1) is generally 30 to 90 drops per day, with the range of effective dosing being anywhere between 2000 mg to 8000 mg per day.
For an evaluation with Dr. Jill Stocker, please call (323) 874-9355 or email her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org