Curcumin and Piperine: A Golden Nutraceutical Duo

June 25, 2018 | Linda J. Dobberstein, Chiropractor, Board Certified in Clinical Nutrition

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Curcumin and Piperine: A Golden Nutraceutical Duo
If curcumin was featured on a game show like Jeopardy, this wonder spice could fit numerous categories of helpful benefits with the ubiquitous answer as “What is curcumin”? This golden nutrient is one of the most widely studied herbal nutrients. Curcumin provides credible benefit modulating disease expression and support of healthy function in a wide variety of applications. Curcumin, the active compound found in the golden spice turmeric is truly an outstanding nutrient and takes home the sweepstakes trophy for its vast array of benefits.

Turmeric or curcumin intake as a spice without a carrier nutrient is hard to absorb in the digestive tract. By itself, it is rapidly metabolized and eliminated out of the body. This has made it a challenge for therapeutic use over the years. However, when curcumin is combined with a black pepper extract called piperine, the results dramatically change. The combination of curcumin with piperine increases its bioavailability by as much as 2000 percent!

Historical use of curcumin relates to its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant benefits. A 2017 review in The British Journal of Pharmacology entitled “Curcumin, the golden nutraceutical: mutitargeting for multiple chronic diseases” shows there are over 100 different clinical trials in humans that show the safety, effectiveness, and tolerability of curcumin in numerous chronic diseases like cancer, diabetes, obesity, heart, lung, neurological, and autoimmune disorders. The National Library of Medicine has nearly 12,000 studies on curcumin alone. As scientists continue to discover more and more about curcumin, the results continue to be stellar and highly promising. Here are some of the more recent findings to help expand the horizon on this “golden nutrient”.

Obesity, Type 2 Diabetes, Heart Disease and Complications

A recent 2018 animal study demonstrated benefits for increased fat loss in obese mice. Mice were fed a high fat diet for 6 months and then were either not treated or were given curcumin with piperine to help with weight loss and fight obesity-induced inflammation. The supplemented group lost more fat and had significantly lower inflammation from the high fat diet than the control group. It was suggested that curcumin and piperine was suitable for prevention of metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a group of findings – increased blood pressure, blood sugar, increased waist size, and elevated cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

Other studies show that curcumin improves intestinal barrier function and health, helping “leaky gut syndrome” which in turn helps prevent the development of metabolic syndrome. Obesity and metabolic syndrome is driven by intestinal permeability and gut flora changes. Curcumin use has been shown to help support gut flora, repair the gut lining, and reduce inflammation. By repairing the gut lining, it helps reduce inflammation and prevents the development of metabolic disease of glucose intolerance/type 2 diabetes and atherosclerosis/cardiovascular disease. Even in the context of the Western diet and LPS toxins, curcumin supplementation helped protect and modulate gut flora, immune cells, and adipose tissue to prevent and reduce these diseases.

A 2017 double-blind randomized control study evaluated type 2 diabetic patients. Patients were given 1000 mg of curcumin with 10 mg of piperine/black pepper extract for 12 weeks. Those who received the curcumin supplementation had improved adiponectin levels and decreased leptin levels which resulted in weight loss and less inflammation.

Other randomized controlled patient trials showed curcumin supplementation reduced LDL and lipoprotein (a), which reduced the risk of cardiovascular events in the diabetic patients with elevated cholesterol levels. Lp (a) is an independent marker for heart disease and is a subfraction of LDL cholesterol. Elevated Lp (a) levels can cause severe problems, including sudden heart attacks even in thin, healthy individuals. High levels of Lp (a) causes sticky cholesterol and affects an estimated 60 million individuals. Diet, exercise, and statin medications do not affect Lp (a), but curcumin can reduce this dangerous heart disease causing compound. If you watch celebrity news, you will see Bob Harper discussing this.

Curcumin and piperine work well with other antioxidants like quercetin for metabolic support, weight and cardiovascular disease management. Other recent research shows curcumin is able to protect against diabetic complications that affect the eyes, i.e. diabetic macular edema.

Brain, Neuroinflammation, Neurodegeneration, Seizures, Mood

Just like with obesity, diabetes, heart disease, curcumin and piperine together provide outstanding neurological support. Research published April 2018 shows that curcumin provides powerful anti-inflammatory effects for the brain’s microglial cells. Curcumin provides immuno-modulatory anti-inflammatory support against TNF-a, prostaglandin E2, iNOS and other compounds within brain microglial cells. This type of knowledge opens the door to a vast array of neurological disorders that have microglial cell over-activity that reflects brain inflammation or neuroimmune inflammation.

Disorders linked with microglia inflammation include Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, fibromyalgia, Lyme disease, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, depression, migraine disorders, traumatic brain injury, concussions, and others. Curcumin’s ability to provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, glial cell support in the brain brings great hope. Numerous studies show that even with disorders like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s traumatic brain injurydepressionanxiety, autism, and seizure disorders, curcumin provides help and protection from damaging oxidative stress and supports healthier brain function. Even if you don’t have any of the concerns, those who simply want to protect their brain from day-to-day stress can still benefit from curcumin.

Gallstones, Acid Reflux, Inflammatory Bowel Disease

In addition to helping increased intestinal permeability/Leaky Gut Syndrome, curcumin provides support for inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease, and irritable bowel syndrome. Animal studies showed curcumin helped nerve signals in the gut while simultaneously increasing serotonin and brain repair chemicals (BDNF) in the brain’s hippocampus center during states of high acute and chronic stress. Results suggested that curcumin can positively affect IBS through neurotransmitters regulation, inflammation management, and support neurological signals in the gut-brain connection.

A June 2018 cellular study showed that curcumin prevents bile acid reflux and protect against cellular damage. Chronic acid reflux may lead to tissue changes in the throat and esophagus which increase the risk for cancer in these areas. This cellular study showed encouraging results that curcumin prevented and protected cells from bile acid injury that led to cellular mutation and cancer risk.

Curcumin and piperine intake blocked the formation of gallstones in animals fed a high fat diet. Cholesterol levels in bile and the circulatory system were also lowered. This is encouraging to anyone who has gallbladder sludge built-up or a history of gallstones.

Cancer Risk and Support

Thousands of studies have been completed that have evaluated the effectiveness of curcumin for cancer support. This includes thyroid cancer, nose-throat, lung, liver, breast, gastric, colorectal, prostate, uterine, blood, pancreas, oral/mouth, and nerve cancers bladder and more. Some breast cancer studies show a dose of 6000 mg or 6 grams of curcumin used per day for 7 days every three weeks when combined with chemotherapy was very helpful for resistant breast cancer, advanced, and metastatic breast cancer.

The same high dose of curcumin was found to reduce the severity of tissue damage to the skin (radiation dermatitis) from radiation therapy in breast cancer. Curcumin is a well-known, powerful antitumor herb that inhibits tumor cell proliferation and invasion. The June 2018 International Journal of Molecular Science reports that curcumin may play a promising role in the prevention and management of metastatic cancer. Curcumin and piperine are even being used to reduce cancer drug toxicity and help make cancer drugs more effective.

Pain and Recovery

Other exciting discoveries on curcumin pertain to more common health issues. Pain and tissue healing respond well to curcumin as seen in the case wisdom teeth removal, exercise recovery, osteoarthritis, and low back pain with sciatica. Curcumin also helps bone health and even repair of fractures. Research showed curcumin able to tackle the job in helping repair fracture of the femur or thigh bone, the largest, strongest bone in the body. In today’s opioid epidemic and gut damaging NSAIDs intake, curcumin offers relief without adverse drug-effects.

Insecticides and Immune Stress

Curcumin even protects against oxidative stress caused by chemical exposures and toxins. Deltamethrin (DLM) is an insecticide widely used in home pest control and agriculture. Exposure to the chemical causes oxidative stress to cells and bind strongly onto several immune type cells. Animal studies show that exposure to the DLM causes depletion of the master antioxidant glutathione that stresses the immune system. This stress and chemical exposure caused harmful damage and cell death to the spleen and thymus gland, two major organs associated with the immune system directly affecting white blood cell production, vitality, and function. Curcumin with piperine intake protects against the toxic insecticide effects. Bug spray is not as benign as you think.

When it comes to nutritional supplementation, the pillars of a good health program always focus on a high quality multiple vitamin, minerals, vitamin D, fish oil, and probiotics. Curcumin with piperine can easily be considered a pillar of any nutritional program. Dietary intake will help provide the rich spicy taste, but keep in mind that it is impossible to consume enough turmeric as a kitchen spice to provide the concentration of curcumin found in nutraceutical supplements. One literally would have to consume several pounds of turmeric per day to reach a therapeutic dose of curcumin.

Curcumin supplements standardized for 95% curcuminoids, the active compound, along with piperine are the very best turmeric/ curcumin supplements to take. If you are on a journey of rebuilding, restoring, and optimizing your health, add in some curcumin with piperine. It is truly an exciting golden nutraceutical that can be added to anyone’s healthy regime.

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