Red curcumin crystals in glass vial

Curcumin a Wonderful Drug

As I read more and more about supplements I am convinced about the wondrous properties of Curcumin or as it is sometimes called Turmeric.  There is quite a bit  of interest in using Curcumin in the treatment of cancer therapy.  This is typically a field that I stay clear of since it is out of my area of expertise. However, if we borrow some of this research we can see how Curcumin can be useful in the treatment of various orthopedic conditions.

Curcumin is a polyphenol extracted from turmeric, which has been safely used in foods such as curries for a long time. Curcumin is a promising therapeutic food material because of its anti-inflammatory and antioxidative functions.  It has long been used as an anti-inflammatory treatment in traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine.

Curcumin is perhaps an ideal supplement in that it has profound effects on various cytokine pathways.  Remember that cytokine pathways involve the various growth factors that are found in the body. Many of these pathways are very beneficial while others are detrimental to the health of the joint.  In addition to thee cytokine pathways, curcumin also targets a number of other processes that involve among other things genes that regulate cell proliferation or apoptosis (cell death). Interestingly enough the cell death usually involves cancer cells.  The anti-inflammatory effect of curcumin seems to be comparable with those of steroidal drugs and NSAIDs. It has also been suggested that an important mechanism of curcumin is inhibition of NF-kB activation , which is a key event in the chronic inflammatory process. This is some of the same processes that stem cells are trying to accomplish with their secretory patterns. This is typically what the  mesenchymal stem cell (MSCs) tries to accomplish.  MSCs  is an immune modulator.  Another interesting fact about curcumin is the fact that  is a potent inhibitor of the production of inflammatory products that are produced by cartilage cells. The fact curcumin can have such an effect on the joint makes it an ideal therapeutic agent to help in joint repair.  In stem cell and PRP therapy we are always striving to improve the extracellular matrix.  The extracellular matrix is the surrounding environment of the cells.  The matrix is what the cells interact with.  The less hostile the matrix the better the stem cell /PRP mixture will work.  Again this is what we call immune modulation which is typically the job of the mesenchymal stem cells.  There have been double blind studies (typically a double blind study is used wherever items are to be compared without influences from testers’ preferences or expectations to eliminate the placebo effect) showing that curcumin is very effective in dealing with osteoarthritis. The randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study showed curcumin was significantly effective in deceasing pain and NSAID necessity with no major adverse events.

The one problem that we have with curcumin is the bioavailability.  It typically is not very well absorbed.  We have scoured the landscape and believe we have found two forms of curcumin which seem to have acceptable bioavailability.  One of the forms is combined with liposomes.  Liposomes help encapsulate the curcumin and deliver it to the areas that need it. We have found another form of cucurmin that dramatically increase the bioavailability of cucurmin by 1500%.  We will start to offer this form of curcumin shortly.  As I eluded to in the beginning of this blog, one interesting fact about Curcumin is that it has a profound effect on cancer  stem cells.  There is some very intriguing studies that show curcumin will dramatically increase the effectiveness of various cancer treatments.  It has the ability to selectively kill cancer cells while leaving regular cells intact.  It is many times combined with laser therapy with some intriguing results.  I leave those comments to those who are more experienced than I am in those fields.


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