Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Curcumin Matches Exercise for Heart Health Benefits !
Turmeric is a spice derived from the rhizome and root of the Curcuma Longa plant, which is native to India and Indonesia. People have consumed turmeric for its flavour and health-promoting properties for 4000 years. Curcumin is the major active ingredient responsible for turmeric's yellow colour and medicinal properties. Using turmeric as a spice is a healthful practice, but taking its derivative curcumin as a herbal supplement will produce a more profound medicinal effect.
Daily supplements of curcumin may benefit cardiovascular health to the same extent as exercises for postmenopausal women, say new data from a clinical trial from Japan. Vascular health, as measured by flow-mediated dilation (FMD), improved equally in groups of women receiving the curcumin supplements and those receiving aerobic exercise training, according to findings published in the Nutrition Research Journal.
Another recent study in the British Journal of Nutrition indicated that decreased FMD is reported to be a predictor of future adverse cardiovascular events, with every 1% decrease in FMD associated with a 12% increase in risk! The researchers wrote, ''Therefore, regular ingestion of curcumin could be a preventative measure against cardiovascular disease in postmenopausal women. Furthermore, our results suggest that curcumin may be a potential alternative for patients who are unable to exercise.'' It was also found to be beneficial for the prevention of atherosclerosis, a condition characterized by a hardening and narrowing of the arteries. Previous tests found that curcumin was found to lower total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels and to prevent the blood from clotting.
The Japanese study had researchers from the University of Tsukuba recruit 32 post-menopausal women and assigned them to one of three groups: The first group acted as the controls, the second group underwent an aerobic exercise training regime, and the third group received curcumin supplements in a daily dose of 25 milligrams. The study lasted for eight weeks, after which the results showed that FMD increased significantly and equally by about 1.5% in both the exercise and curcumin groups, compared to no changes in the control group. ''The mechanism responsible for the curcumin ingestion induced improvement in endothelial function is unclear,'' said the researchers.
The Way I See It....further studies are warranted to clarify the mechanism underlying the effect of curcumnin on endothelial function. However, much more has been found out about curcumin in the last 15 years. Firstly, it is a powerful antioxident that helps to reduce and neutralize free radicals, which damage and destroy your cells and DNA. Curcumin also reduces two inflammation-promoting enzymes in tour body and is therefore an effective anti-inflammatory agent. Due to this amazing ability, the University of Maryland Medical Center states that curcumin supplements may help to relieve symptoms of osteoarthritis, a condition characterized by inflammation, pain and stiffness in the joints.
I have found studies that show taking curcumin as a supplement may help prevent and treat bacterial and viral infections. Supplements have also been used to treat liver problems and skin disease, lower blood sugar levels in diabetics and reduce kidney stones. In addition, curcumin may help to treat an inflammatory eye condition known as ''uveitis''. We know that curcumin stimulates the gallbladder to produce bile and consuming the spice turmeric regularly, or supplementing curcumin directly, may help to improve digestion, reduce bloating and gas and treat and sooth digestive disorders. Further findings include that curcumin supplements combined with conventional medical treatment may help with ulcerative colitis. Of course....as with all herbal supplements, talk to your health-care practitioner.