Curcumin uses, according to traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine, are many. Modern scientific research indicates that the traditional uses were justified. Its first modern use, in the Western world was as a food additive because of its bright orange color.
It comes from the spice plant turmeric, a primary ingredient in curry and frequently used in Asian cuisine. When used in cooking, it imparts a yellow color and a somewhat bitter flavor something like a combination of mustard and pepper.
India is one of the most important trading centers for the spice. Today, a great deal of the turmeric that is produced goes to medical research.
Traditional curcumin uses were to treat digestive disorders, infections, inflammation, jaundice and parasites. Modern research has shown that it has anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-parasitic and anti-inflammatory activity.
The benefit to the liver is unclear, although any natural anti-inflammatory may be beneficial to the liver. Of the medicinal plants that have been investigated, there is more evidence concerning the benefits of milk thistle for jaundice and other conditions involving the liver.
Since jaundice is a symptom of many liver diseases, turmeric could have been beneficial. If hepatitis or another infection were the cause of the jaundice, then the antiviral or antibacterial activity could have been effective. These traditional curcumin uses, although there are written records, are not well-explained in the literature.
In some cases, only symptoms were described. The name of a disease could not be easily translated without knowing the symptoms. And, some symptoms are present in many different diseases.
In addition to being taken orally, turmeric was also applied directly to wounds to promote healing and reduce swelling. That brings us to the more recent findings. Laboratory studies have shown that the new curcumin uses may include the treatment of cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
Now, that doesn’t mean that people who have cancer or Alzheimer’s should give up on their current treatments and go buy some turmeric. It simply means that researchers are investigating. Clinical trials, composed of human volunteers, are in progress, but it may be years before we know the results.
Researchers have faced many challenges when investigating the benefit of this plant extract to human health. Not the least of which was how to get it into the bloodstream. When taken orally, not all of a medication or a nutrient ends up in the blood. Supplement manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies can address this issue. But, most supplement companies don’t.
Most companies take advantage of the consumer’s limited knowledge concerning curcumin uses. The supplements that the sell are little more than curry powder in a capsule.
The better manufacturers use an enteric coating to protect the curcuminoids from being broken down by stomach acid. This allows the nutrients to get into the bloodstream, where they will pass through the intestinal wall and directly into the bloodstream. They also include other nutrients that enhance absorption.
From a purely economic standpoint, multi-nutritional supplements are best, because they provide more benefits. Knowing what we know about curcumin uses, it’s just one supplement to consider.