Above photo by Connie Ma (courtesy of Flickr and Creative Commons)
Curcumin–a large bullet in my wife’s anticancer arsenal
I’d been reading increasingly (and seeing on some of nutritionfacts.org’s mini-videos) about the very encouraging results in studies of curcumin (the factor in tumeric that gives the herb its color). Numerous studies have been done that demonstrate that curcumin works in many ways to prevent or slow cancer cell establishment, growth and spread. As a matter of fact of all the anticancer nutritional supplements and anticancer foods I researched tumeric appeared to hold the most promise. It isn’t a “magic bullet” that would allow a late stage cancer patient to continue poor nutrition and lifestyle habits and slow and reverse their cancer (five years into my wife’s stage 4 cancer battle, I don’t think such a thing exists). (I think a “shotgun” approach using the dozens of scientifically supported anticancer phytonutrients in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans and certain cold water fish is a far more effective aporoach.) But curcumin’s the closest thing to a “magic bullet” that I’ve found in my search.
A tumeric supplement was even prescribed for my wife (Curcumin Essentials) after extensive blood tests were done on her by the Block Center in Skokie, Illinois. I’m sure CE is a good quality product but it was outside of our budget so I opted, perhaps foolishly, to give her a more generic product from a local vitamin store. The product contained 900 mg. of tumeric and only 100 mg. of tumeric extract (aka curcumin–the active anticancer ingredient). The product also contained a trademarked black pepper extract (Bioperine). Black pepper has been shown to boost bioavailability of curcumin when consumed at the same time.
Finding problems with curcumin bioavailability–flushing money down the toilet
As time went on I found two things wrong with what I was giving her. First, I began to read more and more about the realtively low bioavailability of the curcumin in tumeric, even with black pepper extract. The second thing, according to online information from The Block Center, is that that the black pepper extract interferes with certain chemo drugs. Fortunately none of the drugs in my wife’s current chemical cocktail is affected.
But the low bioavailability increasingly concerned me. I learned that Indians (the kind from Asia not America) have used tumeric in recipes for centuries and the way they prepare it boosts bioavailability.
The search for answers on the confusion on tumeric and curcumin supplements
I searched the internet and came up with the following helpful links on the curcumin question:
Her’s a link to a list of findings of research on the response of people with various kinds of cancer to curcumin. Just click on your (or your loved one’s) type of cancer and it will take you to a page of research results. This is on the website curcuminresearch.org, put together by one of the preeminent researchers on curcumin, Dr. B. Aggarrwal.
Her’s a link to the home page for curcuminresearch.org with more scientific information. Research on curcumin is still in relatively early stages but what has been done so far is encouraging. If you want to do more reading on some scientific research on curcumin and cancer here’s a good place to start.
This is a link to a blog post by Josh Trutt, MD. Dr. Trutt’s company sells a pack of high quality anti-aging supplements composed of various brands of supplements. He is always on the lookout for the most effective brand of each type of supplement and in this post he writes about why he chose one particular brand of curcumin from the dozens available on the marketplace. He has no interest in any of the brands he uses in his company’s product so that he can switch to another brand if it shows superior performance in clinical tests.
VERY IMPORTANT NOTE:
I read more of Dr. Trutt’s responses below his post on Theracurmin (which I had previously posted a link to in this post) and found out that after more research he had to retract his recommendation of Theracurmin as a supplement. He felt that Swanson Health Products didn’t present the evidence as accurately as they should have. I have found Dr. Trutt to be straightforward and honest in his evaluations of curcumin products I’ve read, so I had to delete both links to information on Theracurmin and retract my recommendation for all who read this post to consider that curcumin supplement. Dr. Trutt has now gone back to recommending Longvida brand curcumin supplement (reviewed in one of his above posts linked above) as the one he found with the best bioavailability. This is the one I’ll be using, despite the additional cost.