Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Turmeric! The Hot New Old Spice.

You have heard Dr. Oz sing its praises, you have tried Dr. Sanjay Gupta's turmeric tea recipe he shared on Dr. Oz' show, you have seen Michael Caine gush about it, and now you are being bombarded with endless turmeric supplement
ads. And if they are not already on it, more celebrities will be on the yellow-orange band wagon soon. It has been studied to provide remedies for almost every ailment from numerous cancers, to anthrax caused by the bacterium, Bacillus anthracis. Undoubtedly turmeric is of some benefit. If you are a reading rodent you would be wildly enthusiastic about the prospect of sniffing and licking heaps of the yellow orange spice, after all it is the rats and mice who have been the major beneficiaries of the “ fat buster”, “ miracle food”, and “ energy furnace” accolades handed out in popular media and magazine covers. Mere mortals, us humans, can take some comfort that some of us have been eating turmeric any way, either in cheese, or mustard or in spiced foods that are the staple of Asian cuisine.
But until we humans grow a tail and willingly become dispensable lab animals, or better yet, find a painless way to absorb the goodness of curcumin and other bioactive components of turmeric in our bloodstreams we will find it a bit difficult to share the wealth of benefits the rodents are being showered with. To replicate rosy results from experiments on rats, mice and rabbits we would have to take massive doses of turmeric, which sooner or later could become toxic for us. As the slide show above demonstrates, Curcumin, a natural polyphenol and main bio active ingredient of turmeric that is also responsible for the spice’s color, has been studied mostly in rodents. Research is beginning on humans albeit at a much smaller scale. It is one thing to administer test materials into animals but quite another when it comes to human beings. After making its way through stomach acids, whatever is left of it does not get absorbed well through the intestinal wall. The good news is it appears to be beneficial for the gut in most cases but in some cases it could be harmful.
The spice has different meaning for different metabolic and health conditions. Before you shove heaping spoons of turmeric down your throat, and paint the town yellow, do your research. A few cautionary notes are reproduced below from the National Library of Medicine part of the National Institutes of Health, also echoed by the American Cancer Society and other organizations. Remember they are talking about benefits of taking turmeric for humans, not animals.
There is some evidence of effectiveness in stomach upset situations such as dyspepsia and also osteoarthritis. Other than that there is not a lot of evidence to rate effectiveness for...
Skin cancer.
There is some evidence that applying a turmeric ointment might help to relieve odor and itching caused by skin cancer.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Curcumin, a chemical in turmeric, might help reduce some symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Jaundice.
Liver and gallbladder problems.
Menstrual problems.
Eye infections.
Skin problems.
Alzheimer’s disease.
Six Pack Abs Photo: Cyrl Adina. Welcome to Flickr - Photo Sharing. "All sizes | Weight Loss Tips | Flickr - Photo Sharing!" Accessed November 7, 2013.
Turmeric Photo: Steven Jackson Photography Welcome to Flickr - Photo Sharing. "All sizes | Turmeric | Flickr - Photo Sharing!" Accessed November 6, 2013.
Mail Online. "The spice of life: Sir Michael Caine reveals he eats turmeric to keep his brain sharp." Accessed November 6, 2013.
MDPI Open Access Journals Platform. "IJMS | Free Full-Text | Combination of Low Concentration of (−)-Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG) and Curcumin Strongly Suppresses the Growth of Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer in Vitro and in Vivo through Causing Cell Cycle Arrest." Accessed November 6, 2013. Tested on lab mice and human cells (ex vivo); not on humans. Results showed enhanced chemopreventive effect caused by EGCG in combination with curcumin in non small cell lung carcinoma cells. Photo: Yale Rosen-Ed Uthman. Flickr Photostream. Flickr. "Non-small cell carcinoma - FNA | Photo Sharing!" Accessed November 6, 2013.
Elsevier. "Elsevier." Accessed November 6, 2013. After 7 weeks on a high fat diet the turmeric group of rabbits had lower cholesterol, phospholipids and triglycerides in LDL. Rabbit Photo: Research for Animal Testing. Flickr. "Rabbit in Research for Animal Testing | Photo Sharing!" Accessed November 6, 2013.
National Center for Biotechnology Information. "Inhibitory effect of rutin and curcumin on experimentally-induced calcium oxalate urolithiasis in rats." Accessed November 6, 2013. A combination of curcumin and rutin (a flavonol glycoside) have been found to inhibit urinary stones. This may be the result of anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties of rutin and curcumin. Rat Photo: Tatyana Bulyonkova Welcome to Flickr - Photo Sharing. "All sizes | Beerman :) | Flickr - Photo Sharing!" Accessed November 6, 2013.
Tufts Now. "Turmeric Extract Suppresses Fat Tissue Growth in Rodent Models." Accessed November 6, 2013. Mohsen Meydani, DVM, PhD. Director of Vascular Biology Laboratory at the USDA HNRCA: “Curcumin appears to suppress angiogenic activity in fat tissue of mice on high fat diets” Photo: Wolfgang Lonien Flickr. "7dc_7097339-mouse | Photo Sharing!" Accessed November 6, 2013.
Hindawi Publishing Corporation. "Antidermatophytic Properties of Ar-Turmerone, Turmeric Oil, and Curcuma longa Preparations." Accessed November 6, 2013. Turmeric oil showed effective antifungal activity against tested dermatophytes, especially against T. rubrum, one of the most common dermatophytes. Faces Photo: Camillej Flickr Accessed November 6, 2013.
Inhibition of anthrax lethal factor by curcumin and chemically modified curcumin derivatives Posted online on October 9, 2013. (doi:10.3109/14756366.2013.837901) Study results: “Preliminary results show that curcumin inhibits anthrax toxin, produced by Bacillus anthracis bacterium, by decreasing its catalytic capacity and simultaneously increasing its substrate affinity.”
Bio laboratory Photo: Adam Coster Welcome to Flickr - Photo Sharing. "All sizes | RIBS_2008_microbelab (17) | Flickr - Photo Sharing!" Accessed November 6, 2013.
PLOS ONE : accelerating the publication of peer-reviewed science. "PLOS ONE: Curcumin Prevents High Fat Diet Induced Insulin Resistance and Obesity via Attenuating Lipogenesis in Liver and Inflammatory Pathway in Adipocytes." Accessed November 6, 2013. In high fat diets curcumin appears to suppress lipogenic gene expression in the liver and the inflammatory response in the adipose tissue. Photo: Tatyana Bulyonkova Welcome to Flickr - Photo Sharing. "All sizes | Pyan-Se the mouse | Flickr - Photo Sharing!" Accessed November 6, 2013.
"World Journal of Gastroenterology-Baishideng Publishing." Accessed November 6, 2013. In lab tests on human Colorectal cancer cells curcumin suppresses gowth of PTEN-deficient cancer cells, suggesting a potential chemotherapeutic use for cancers with PTEN mutations. Adenocarcinoma Photo: Dr. Ed Uthman Flickr. " Adenocarcinoma of the Sigmoid Colon (longitudinal section, closeup) | Photo Sharing!" Accessed November 6, 2013.
Nutrition & Metabolism. "Nutrition & Metabolism | Full text | Caloric restriction favorably impacts metabolic and immune/inflammatory profiles in obese mice but curcumin/piperine consumption adds no further benefit." Accessed November 6, 2013. It is still better to eat less. Obese mice did not get any additional benefit from curcumin/piperine use. Mouse Photo: Duncan Hull Welcome to Flickr - Photo Sharing. "All sizes | ποντίκι / μυς, mouse (Mus musculus) by George Shuklin | Flickr - Photo Sharing!" Accessed November 6, 2013.
Elsevier. "Elsevier." Accessed November 6, 2013. Cell, animal and human studies on joint health indicate beneficial effects of curcumin but optimal doses have yet to tbe determined for humans. Bone Pain Photo:Adams999 Flickr. "Bone-pain | Photo Sharing!" Accessed November 6, 2013.
Wiley Online Library. "Curcumin‐free turmeric exhibits anti‐inflammatory and anticancer activities: Identification of novel components of turmeric - Aggarwal - 2013 - Molecular Nutrition & Food Research." Accessed November 6, 2013. Whole turmeric has other ingredients that may also confer anti-inflammatory, anticancer, and antidiabetic benefits. Photo: EfVenturi18 Welcome to Flickr - Photo Sharing. "All sizes | EfVenturi18 | Flickr - Photo Sharing!" Accessed November 6, 2013.
EN :: Experimental Neurobiology." Accessed November 6, 2013. Stressed animals treated with curcumin and sertraline had better learning curves, made more correct choices and had fewer reference and working memory errors. Photo: Audrey_sel Flickr. "Lab mascot #1 | Photo Sharing!" Accessed November 6, 2013.
Turmeric Blossom Photo: Edsel Little Flickr. "Turmeric blossom | Photo Sharing!" Accessed November 6, 2013.
Turmeric Photo: Melanie Cook Welcome to Flickr - Photo Sharing. "All sizes | Turmeric | Flickr - Photo Sharing!" Accessed November 6, 2013.

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