Life Extension “Super Bio-Curcumin” on Member SaleWritten by: Alison Print This Article
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LifeExtension.com periodically sends out mailings to its members offering special discounts on its products. One of its recent offerings, good until June 1, 2009 for members, is for 50% off its Super Bio-Curcumin product via ordering code CUC901D.
Most of this article describing the health benefits of curcumin applies to any good quality curcumin nutritional supplement. Curcumin is a nutritional supplement that has increasingly strong evidence of being widely useful and is commonly available from many other manufacturers. Sometimes it is sold as “turmeric extract” or a similar name.
What is Curcumin?
Curcumin is a portion of the common Indian spice turmeric which is widely used in Indian cooking, especially curries. Starting about 3000 years ago, tumeric started being used in Ayurvedic medicine. Tumeric’s yellow coloring provides an appealing color variation. But the benefits of turmeric go much deeper than taste and color. The primary ingredient believed to be responsible for tumeric’s health benefits is the family of compounds known as curcumin or curcuminoids.
In India, the typical daily intake of turmeric is about 2 to 2.5 grams per person delivering about 60mg to 200mg of curcumin. Standard turmeric contains about 4% curcumin, versus up 95% in many curcumin extract products.
Health Benefits of Curcumin
Curcumin has a plethora of claimed health properties:
- boosts production of glutathione, an important antioxidant also involved in preventing damage from heavy metals in the body
- anti-inflammatory, inhibiting actions of LOX (lipoxygenase), COX (cyclooxygenase), nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-kB), and TNF (Tumor Necrosis Factor)
- blocks estrogen mimicking carcinogens such as DDT, chlordane, and dioxin from entry into cells
- causes apoptosis (“programmed cell death”) of certain cancer cells, particularly colorectal cancer
- suppresses expression of the MDM2 gene which is associated with formation of malignant tumors
- may be helpful in treating Cystic Fibrosis
- may be helpful in treating Multiple Sclerosis
- prevents some damage caused by high sugar levels, such as from diabetes
- may protect against cataracts
- inhibits platelet clumping, aiding blood circulation and reducing blood clot risk
- inhibits neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s Disease
- crosses the blood-brain barrier and inhibits beta-amyloid plaque formation involved in Alzheimer’s Disease when injected into bloodstream
- reduces joint pain from rheumatoid arthritis
- reduces radiation-induced damage in bacterial DNA, may also reduce radiation damage to human DNA
Much of the evidence for these properties has been in vitro (lab) and animal model studies. Human trials are underway for a number of applications, but data in still in short supply compared to the lab and animal studies.
Human studies involving pancreatic cancer, colorectal cancer, breast cancer, and Alzheimer’s Disease are underway.
Unusual Properties of Super Bio-Curcumin
The Super Bio-Curcumin BCM-95 formulation developed by DolCas-Biotech is about seven times as well absorbed into the bloodstream as standard curcumin supplements. This means a 400mg capsule is about as effective as 2772mg of the common 95% curcumin concentration used in many nutritional supplements.
One of the main limitations of curcumin supplementation is that when orally consumed, it is not very bioavailable. Dosages of 4 grams (4000mg) per day were needed in some studies to yield detectable blood serum levels of curcumin.
The BCM-95 formulation overcomes this limitation. It is based upon including turmeric compounds that are normally removed during processing to create 95% pure curcumin. Apparently these compounds significantly help the human body to absorb curcumin. This may also explain why the Indian diet delivering curcumin as part of turmeric seems to have a statistically significant effect on reducing the rates of multiple illnesses, even though the actual dosage of curcumin is not high.
Curcumin is hydrophobic, meaning it does not mix well with water. Taking it with lipids (fats) is likely to improve absorption. Some formulations of curcumin supplements dissolve it in lecithin. Lecithin derived from soy beans has some excellent properties of its own, including helping to boost levels of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, providing choline as a methyl donor for many important biochemical processes, and possibly reducing high LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels, so it would be reasonable to combine curcumin supplements with lecithin to improve absorption.
Safety Risks of Curcumin
The US FDA classifies turmeric as “Generally Recognized as Safe” (GRAS). Toxicity of curcumin does not appear to be a problem, so long as there are not contaminants in the supplements. Human studies with up to 8 grams (8000mg) of curcumin per day for three months did not indicate toxicity even at these high dosages. Single dosage of 12 grams also did not find toxicity.
Like many herbal products, there is evidence that some manufacturers have inadequate product quality standards that result in contamination of their products with harmful chemicals. A study of Ayurvedic medicines conducted from 2004 to 2006 found that about one fifth of the samples tested were contaminated with measurable levels of harmful heavy metals such as mercury, lead, and arsenic. It’s important to buy nutritional supplements from companies that do not simply rely on their material manufacturers but instead also test samples of their materials and products on a regular basis to ensure their supplements are safe.
Curcumin may also interact with anticoagulation and antiplatelet medicines such as Plavix, Coumadin (warfarin), and heparin. In our non-medical opinion, the benefits of curcumin look very promising, the cost is not excessive, and the drug interactions are likely not significant for most people. However, every person has biochemical variations so it would be an oversimplification to state that “curcumin is safe” especially for people taking anticoagulants. You should alert your doctor and/or pharmacist to the addition of curcumin to your diet and take blood tests before you start and regularly afterwards to ensure that your coagulation is being managed effectively.
People who are actively suffering from gallstones should be cautious about using curcumin as it may increase gallbladder contractions that could worsen the pain and other symptoms from gallstones. However, this may actually help prevent formation of new gallstones.
Piperine, an ingredient used in some formulations of curcumin (but not Super Bio-Curcumin BCM-95), may affects bioavailability of a number of drugs by slowing elimination from the bloodstream.
As is stated with nearly every drug and dietary supplement, pregnant women should consult their physician before using curcumin.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The products mentioned in this post are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.