But the best news is that it is highly effective as an anti-inflammatory, probably the most important factor in the fight against the effects of premature aging. Barry Sears, author of several best sellers in health and beating aging, writes in his book “The Anti Inflammation Zone“…the day you stop fighting inflammation is the day you start accelerating the aging process.”
The chronic diseases that so frequently accompany aging such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s are preceded and accelerated by the influence of low level inflammation. Of course no inflammation is the normal, healthy state.
The significance of this silent epidemic is often not recognized. Inflammation is slowly driving your body towards these chronic diseases. The inflammation is usually such low level that it is generally not noticed.The onset of these diseases is often not evident for years. They develop silently, showing no symptoms, until they are well established. Sometimes by then it is too late to reverse or even stop the steady progress of the disease.
STOP THE ONSET OF THE CHRONIC DISEASES OF AGE – BEFORE THEY START
The inflammation that is the precursor of the breakdown of the natural body mechanisms builds up as a result of the environmental toxins such as pollution, chemical additives, incorrect dietary practices and lifestyle problems such as stress, lack of proper sleep and high alcohol consumption that allow the cancers, cardio-vascular diseases to begin may take a decade or even several decades to develop.
And there is now scientific proof of C. xanthorriza’s powerful effect against cancer, liver disease (particularly hepatitis), and many other scourges of humanity. The protective effects of curcuma against many of the diseases of age, and its curative effects is not only confirmed from a long history of successful use in Asia, it is now established scientifically, from results of clinical trials.
What is it? A broad spectrum natural product with multiple benefits.
Curcuma (a name used for this plant in Indonesia), is a broad spectrum herb which has remarkable properties of anti-inflammation, maintaining healthy liver functions and improving biliary function and improving vitality.
Curcuma is a member of the ginger family (Zingiberaceae) which is a native Indonesian plant, is grown in Thailand, Philippines Sri Lanka and Malaysia. Curcuma is low growing plant with a root (rhizome) that looks a lot like ginger.
It has been cultivated in gardens in the region for many centuries and was officially recognized in a written account as far back as 1563 by a Portuguese investigator, Garcia ab Orta.
Of the 45,000 species used in Indonesia in some way as a supplement or for medical treatment, only a handful of those proven most effective (with a body of research and a long history of successful application). One of these is Curcuma - Curcoma xanthorrhiza.
In laboratory pharmacological research, a considerable number of active substances have been identified from Curcuma. The two major active ingredients known to have pharmacological effect are curcumin, and the second is the essential oil of the plant. Both work together in synergistic manner, to promote discharge of bile from the gall bladder, known as a cholagogue effect. It is this effect that provides the action against cholesterol, and reduces lipids, fats in the blood.
The liver protectant properties of Curcuma are second to none. Its anti-hepatotoxic effects have long been recorded in Asia, and are beginning to be recognized in the West. It is known to be hepatoprotective among Indonesians, and is used particularly in cases of Hepatitis.
And the curcumin has been shown to have a powerful anti-inflammatory action because it inhibits the mechanisms of arachidonic acid and leukotrine formation. It is this arachidonic acid that has so much to do with accelerated aging (refer to Dr Barry Sears books, especially “The Anti-Inflammation Zone). This suppression of arachidonic acid is a massive benefit to the body.
What is it used for?
Curcuma is a diuretic, is anti cancer, anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, anti-hypertensive, anti-rheumatic, anti-hepatotoxic, anti-dismenorrhea, anti-spasmodic, anti-leucorrhoea, anti-bacterial, anti-bacterial and antifungal. It reduces cholesterol, treats constipation, and increases flow of milk during breast feeding.
In one recent piece of research, the investigators enthusiastically noted “In several systems, curcumin has been described as a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent. Evidence has also been presented to suggest that curcumin can suppress tumor initiation, promotion and metastasis. Pharmacologically, curcumin has been found to be safe. Human clinical trials indicated no dose-limiting toxicity when administered in dosed up to 10 g per day. All of these studies suggest that curcumin has enormous potential in the prevention and therapy of cancer”. (Anticancer Research 2003, Jan-Feb;23(1A):363-98.)
This is high praise indeed from a conservative scientific journal. We can expect that many more clinical trials will need to be done to confirm this finding before the medical profession will overcome their skepticism, but we are heartened by this confirmation of what the people of Indonesia have known for hundreds of years.
In South-East Asia it is traditionally used for a range of complaints including hepatitis, liver complaints, diabetes, rheumatism, cancer, hypertension and heart disorders.
It is well known to the public in Holland, where it is sold in the fresh, powder and tablet form, principally for the treatment of liver disorders and gallstones. It has been used there since the 1800’s.
Because it has a mild diuretic effect, you should be sure to drink lots of water when taking Curcuma capsules.
Most people don’t realize that more than 60% of our cholesterol is manufactured by the body. It is only the “top up” that we take in with our food. And of course if we take in lots of cholesterol from fatty food, or if we manufacture a bit too much in our body, we will have to get rid of some somewhere, especially if the cholesterol breakdown and removal process in the liver is not as good as it could be. This often happens in middle age.
The solution is Curcuma. The effect of Curcuma on the body’s bile system mentioned above is the secret to the natural control of hypercholesterolemia (high total blood cholesterol). The need is to reduce the LDL (bad cholesterol) while increasing the HDL (good cholesterol)
This is best done by increasing the bile flow from the gall bladder associated with the liver. Bile is a highly bitter green liquid that is secreted into the digestive system and has a major function in the process of food breakdown and absorption. That is the way Curcuma works. It stimulates the natural processes and gently but effectively normalizes the blood cholesterol.
Bile contains bile pigment, bile salts, cholesterol and fats. The increase in the bile production from the gall bladder carries with it increased secretion of cholesterol, which is voided from the body in the feces. Often treatment is necessary for six months or on a continuing basis to ensure control of excess cholesterol in subjects with this condition in their makeup.
Artificial statins available from the drug companies may achieve similar results in reducing total cholesterol. There may be no reduction in the HDL/LDL ratio which leaves the undesirable LDL at higher levels.
And by using statin medication, the body’s natural mechanisms may simply shut down their effectiveness further, promoting a vicious cycle of increased medication, decreased clearance of cholesterol, more medication and so on.
Using Curcuma taps into the natural control method. And it is enhanced greatly by the curcumin and essential oil in Curcuma. Again the body works to heal itself, without the possible negative effects, and you have the wellness that you deserve. Long term.
A Natural Cure for Liver Disease
Hepatitis, and the incurable virus scourges of Hepatitis B and C that afflict hundreds of millions of people around the world, can be treated with excellent effect by Curcuma.
Healthy Liver function is improved by the increase in biliary function (bile secretion) that was noted above. This cholagogue effect removes toxins and fats from the liver, and is thought to be responsible for the remarkable curative effects of this herb.
The anti-hepatotoxic effect has been the subject of a number of trials. In one trial in the Hepatogasroenterology Clinic in the State Hospital in Surabaya in Indonesia 30 chronic liver patients with Hepatitis were given 1200 mg per day for 12 weeks. The enzyme marker SGPT reduced 70%, SGOT reduced 82% ALP reduced 76% while bilirubin was reduced to zero from the blood of the treatment group. The control (untreated) group showed no significant improvement.
It also has the function of preventing liver adiposis (fatty degeneration of the liver) which can cause breakdown of function that is irreversible, and leads to inevitable death. This is often associated with high alcohol consumption.
It is believed that the well known Liver protective function that Curcuma has will assist to prevent the liver damage that can be caused by high consumption of alcohol. Often the result is cirrhosis, which is another irreversible condition. Many trials have shown this protective mechanism at work, acting against liver toxins.
The inflammation response, the body’s way of dealing with microbe invaders, and a mechanism that begins the process to repair damaged tissue, is essential for wellness. So what’s the big deal with anti-inflammation? Ironically, the greatest single threat to our health in the 21st century is the continuing high levels of sub-clinical (silent) inflammation from which most of us suffer, especially later in life.
The precursor of the chronic diseases that carry off most Westerners is this chronic, unnoticed inflammation. Barry Sears and other researchers are convinced that understanding this silent epidemic is the key to preventing premature aging, chronic disease and death.
It often takes a decade or more of this before the symptoms begin to emerge. The good news is it is not too late to do something about it. You can begin today to redress the damage of the past and build your life back into wellness. Grab your life back before it’s too late!
It is now believed that the most common cause of this chronic but unrecognized inflammation is the presence of increased free radicals, in turn due to the modern Western lifestyle with high stress levels, pollution, inadequate diet, poor exercise and sleep patterns and allergy conditions such as asthma.
Assault by tobacco, chemical additives to food, and alcohol abuse often add to this to produce the silent epidemic of inflammation and the serious chronic disease syndromes that are so obvious today. Often onset begins by the 40’s or even early in adulthood, causing loss of quality of life for many years, even decades in later life.
It is this inflammation below the threshold of pain that is involved with much of our chronic disease. Reversing the silent inflammation will:
• Protect your Liver from damage, and heal existing damage
• Help prevent cancer
• Help prevent diabetes melitensis
• Help to stave off Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, even chronic depression
• Help reduce or prevent arthritis, migraines, and other painful disease
• Help reduce autoimmune disease such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis
Research has shown that the effect of the powerful active substances of Curcuma is even more effective than the widely used anti-inflammatory drugs produced by the pharmaceutical companies that use cortisone or emulators such as phenylbutazone, but without the serious and debilitating side effects that accompany those drugs. The side effects range from suppression of immunity to peptic ulcers and worse.
The oxidants are a part of the defense mechanism of the body, and like the inflammation response, are necessary to combat foreign bodies and microbes from setting up disease and damage in our bodies.
But the oxides including superoxides, free radicals and lipid peroxides can be produced in excess to the requirements of the body to kill bacteria. They (particularly the free radicals) then turn their attention to damaging healthy cells. The effect on accelerated aging is obvious.
So we need antioxidants to balance up the equation, and scavenge the unnecessary oxidants, particularly free radicals. But an excess of anti-oxidants is also not good and can cause side-effects such as mucous membrane damage.
This is where Curcuma comes in. Being a 100% natural product, unlike the chemical vitamin and mineral supplements that the drug companies push, it has a mechanism of action that ensures no excess of anti-oxidation. The action is focused on the free radicals, and highly damaging arachidonic acid. But the chain of action does not produce the anti oxidants in excessive quantities above requirements. It is a safe, gentle treatment, in the recommended dosages.
As an aside, production of arachidonic acid increases in the body when the diet is high in refined carbohydrate, such as sugar and flour etc, and when the person is overweight, and does not exercise.
Heart Disease and High Blood Pressure
Curcuma is a blood pressure stabilizer. It seems to act on the homeostasis mechanisms of the body to normalize and maintain the genetically appropriate level of blood pressure (we all should be as close to 120/80 as we can). So it works to maintain good heart and vascular health.
Heart disease is the number 1 killer of people in the Western world today. The hardening of the arteries that follows from years of Hypertension (high blood pressure) is a major factor in early death caused by heart disease. This is also compounded by plaque deposits, which are promoted by high cholesterol levels, another factor controlled by Curcuma. Make sure you seek treatment from your physician if you have high blood pressure. It is appropriate to supplement any medication with Curcuma capsules, but you should inform your physician.
After an artificially induced heart attack in a clinical trial involving laboratory animals, the group that had been receiving Curcuma showed much less damage to the heart tissues (protective effect) and recovered much more quickly that the control group which had not received the herb (Reference 25 ).
As a broad spectrum plant, Curcuma has been used in a similar way to ginseng, but has some important differences. Ginseng is a hypertensive, and will raise blood pressure to alarming levels in the 20-30% of people who have a tendency to high blood pressure. It cannot be taken by those who have hypertension, and may push others into this serious condition. Do not use Ginseng if you have any concern in this direction.
Arthritis and Osteoporosis
Curcuma has a strong effect on osteo-arthritis. In Australia, in a trial involving 42 patients with this debilitating disease, researchers Mills and Bone carried out a trial over three months.
They reported their results in 2000, and noted indications of obvious improvement such as reduced or no pain, removal of swelling, improved mobility of joints, and reduction of inflammation.
The anti-inflammatory properties of the curcumin are thought to be responsible for this remarkable result. Laboratory trials have shown the curcumin works by inhibiting the production of the pro-inflammatory enzyme cyclo-oxygenase 2 (COX-2),
In addition, the protective action of the herb against the development of osteoporosis is also confirmed in the literature. This is particularly relevant to women approaching middle-age, who are the high risk zone for this crippling disease. A fall can often result in multiple fractures and serious breakage of bones such as the pelvic girdle. Permanent immobility may result.
This embarrassing condition for women, where a very unpleasant discharge is often noted as a primary symptom, has been successfully treated by taking concentrated capsules of Curcuma extract. It may also be prevented by taking the Curcuma capsules regularly, and using cotton underwear and loose fitting clothing.
There is a rising body of evidence in dozens of clinical trials about the preventative and cytotoxic (kills cancer cells) effects of curcumin. It has been proved to inhibit (prevent) cancer in the skin, stomach, intestines and liver of humans and laboratory animals alike.
In a study of people with previous cancer or at high risk of skin, bladder, stomach, mouth and cervical cancer, there was high praise for Curcuma. The researchers were led to conclude that there is a “biological effect of curcumin in the chemo-prevention of cancer”. This is very significant in the conservative wording of the research world.
Another study indicated that “The chemo-preventive effects exerted by these phytochemicals are often associated with their antioxidative and anti-inflammatory properties. Cyclo-oxygenase-2 (COX-2) has been recognized as a molecular target of many chemo-preventive as well as anti-inflammatory agents” Food Chemistry Toxicology, 2002 Aug;40(8):1091-7.
Curcumin is a polyphenol, a chemical which has after 50 years of research, been widely accepted as a compound that can both treat and prevent cancer. Apoptosis (the action of killing cancer cells) has been recorded in clinical trials in vitro and in many cases in vivo for lung, cervix, ovary, breast cancer, and in leukemia and melanoma.
Another recent focus of research has been the disease of aging called Alzheimer’s. It is of course the leading cause of age-related dementia. The amyloid pathology that has been identified as the causal mechanism of Alzheimer’s has now been proved to be decreased by curcumin from food sources. Chemical studies have shown that there is a protective effect against the incursion of the damage involving amyloids.
This is a magnificent finding. Now at last we have scientific evidence of an effective preventive for Alzheimer’s, or even something that may help to reverse the course of the disease. It offers a preventative for millions of aging people. And hope for many thousands of others who are starting to develop early symptoms of the degenerative disease.
Taking a daily capsule of Curcuma extract, containing concentrated curcumin, is the way to make sure that you won’t get Alzheimer’s. Isn’t that something we would all want?
Side Effects and Safety
There are no side effects of Curcuma when used in the recommended way. A huge one-off dose is not toxic (even 200 capsules), and there are no recorded cases of any side effects through normal but very high dosage.
Curcuma xanthorrhiza is becoming well known in Europe, where it was introduced to the Netherlands before the Second World War. It is becoming more popular in Germany and Holland, where it is known as liver tea, due to its ability to protect from and cure various liver disorders, and latterly, cancer.
One researcher reported from the University of California “Curcumin has been found to be safe in six human trials and has demonstrated anti-inflammatory activity. It may extert its anti-inflammatory activity by inhibition of a number of different molecules that play a role in inflammation.” Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 2003 Feb;9(1):162-8.