The fuss about turmeric
Curcumin extracted from turmeric is probably the most studied of all natural compounds. There are research papers that cover everything from its antiantioxidant capacity, that it helps our cancer defences, can help protect brain cells against age related problems, neurodegenerative problems and many more. Most research, however, is focused on its antiinflammatory capacity.
Almost every chronic disease either causes or results in inflammation. While the inflammatory process is essential for healing it can cause new problems or worsen existing problems.
Just think about this for a moment. Heart disease is inflammation of blood vessels leading to plaques. Inflammation is part of how cancer cells spread. All autoimmune disease is inflammatory. Neurodegenerative diseases, including dementiarelated conditions, are inflammatory.
All respiratory and allergic conditions are inflammatory. Most skin problems are caused or worsened by inflammation and osteoarthritis is of course inflammatory.
This is of course why most medical treatments for these conditions centre around reducing inflammation with everything from humble aspirin through to powerful steroids.
Part of the problem though is that some people cannot tolerate medications or else these cannot be used long-term or in some cases increase the risk of other health problems.
For example, I have a client who had battled tennis elbow for some time. While medications provided temporary relief he decided to add my Curcumin and OPC alongside Omega 3 fish oil and an anti-inflammatory diet.
After a few months he reported that his elbow was much better. This should not surprise as multiple studies and research show that curcumin helps to normalise several inflammatory processes especially inflammatory cytokine and prostaglandin production.
Curcumin acts as an immune system conductor restoring natural immune balance.
It is difficult to think of any chronic disease that is not either caused or worsened by inflammation. Today we are going to look more closely at the inflammatory process and how diet and supplements can help create normal inflammatory balance.
The purpose of inflammation is to help restore tissue that is affected by infection, trauma or disease. Think of this like a playground see-saw. On one end we have forces that cause inflammation while on the other the forces that reduce it. When this delicate balance goes wrong it can lead to chronic inflammation which will worsen existing problems and even cause new problems.
All inflammation comes directly or indirectly from our immune system. It is our white blood cells that govern inflammation. This process is directly related to diet and in particular fats and a vast arrange of biologically active antioxidants.
The chemistry of all this is very complex but there are some simple facts. Fats in our diet have huge influence over inflammation. Omega 6 oils and some animal fats tend to push our bodies towards inflammation. Omega 3 and some other plant oil tend to have antiinflammatory benefits.
Two of the most biologically active anti-inflammatory compounds are curcumin from turmeric and OPC from grape seed extract. These firstly help block an unwanted inflammatory response and secondly help produce antiinflammatory effect on inflamed tissue. Combining these two potent extracts can calm stressed tissue and bring welcome relief.
I was speaking with someone recently who had been affected by long-term inflammation in his spine. Adding high doses of Curcumin and OPC has resulted in his back being much more comfortable and as a bonus his swollen fingers are much better.
■ John Arts (B Soc Sci, Dip Tch, Adv Dip Nut Med) is a nutritional medicine practitioner and founder of Abundant Health Ltd. For questions or advice contact John on 0800 423559 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Join his newsletter at www.abundant.co.nz