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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

CurcuminRich: Product Review

If you follow nutrition news than you likely have heard that turmeric, a spice used frequently in Indian cuisine, is supposed to be packed with health benefits.

The active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin and there is preliminary data showing its potential as an antimicrobial, insecticidal, larvicidal, antimutagenic, radioprotector, and anticancer agent. It shows promise of being protective against proinflammatory diseases, cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, depression, diabetes, obesity, and atherosclerosis. In some clinical trials, turmeric has shown efficacy to treat conditions such as lupus nephritis, cancer, diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome, acne, and fibrosis.

Since I love Indian cuisine, and curries from other cuisines, which often use turmeric, I frequently use it in my cooking and thought that that was enough to reap the rewards of this spice.  Unfortunately, a research study conducted in 2006 (Tayyem et al.) found that turmeric and curry powders contain a very small amount of curcumin, not enough to have a therapeutic effect. So I was happy to accept a sample of Natural Factors' Curcumin supplements.

The good news for those of us who cook with turmeric is a 2013 study by Aggarwal et al. found that even turmeric without curcumin has some similar health benefits.

So should you be taking a turmeric or curcumin supplement?

Unfortunately, like many natural supplements, studies show significant variation in the amount of active compounds in one product to another.  Its very hard to know, as a consumer, if you are buying a product with any efficacy at all.  I found a recent article (Tweed, 2015) that recommended Natural Factors' curcumin. 

There are other studies, however, that warn that many curcumin supplements may also be high in lead...definitely not something you want to be consuming!  In addition, it is still not definitive how the promising anti-inflammatory/anti-carcinogenic properties of the compound may translate into real-world therapeutic efficacy in human bodies. 

I have been taking the vivid golden capsules for a few weeks now.  One person is certainly not evidence of scientific evidence, but having reluctantly put aside my Omron pain therapy device to test the curcumin, I have noticed less muscle soreness after my toughest workouts.  Is it placebo effect? Who knows!  But Delayed Muscle Soreness (DOMS) from my tough strength training routine is my biggest source of inflammation and my only way to even try to determine whether the capsules might have any efficacy.

So do I recommend them? Well, as long as there isn't a high lead content in them (I couldn't find any data on this particular product), then why not?  I know several cancer survivors who take curcumin supplements religiously because of what they've read about its anti-carcinogenic properties.  If you have the moula, and are confident in the brand, then go for it.

Disclosure: I was sent the supplement for free, but all the opinions on this blog are my own.