Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a very popular supplement often hailed as a miracle supplement for inflammation, but there’s a lot of misinformation surrounding it which has resulted in many poor quality turmeric supplements on the market as companies try to cash in on its popularity.

The active constituents of turmeric root, called curcuminoids or simply curcumin, exhibits anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects through inhibition of cyclooxygenase-2, C-reactive protein, rheumatoid factor, tumor necrosis factor-alpha, nitric oxide, and acetylcholinesterase. It also modulates neurotransmitters by inhibiting monoamine oxidase, induces gall bladder contractions, increases GI motility, and decreases sperm density and motility.

Curcuminoids must be isolated from turmeric root either as extracts or volatile oils and the addition of compounds or technologies to increase absorption must be added for there to be any significant clinical effects; taking curcumin supplements with meals containing natural fats further increases absorption. Even then, based on clinical trials, there appears to be people who are non-responders to the positive effects of curcuminoids, possibly due to individual variations in GI absorption.

BCM-95 curcumin formulation contains volatile oils of turmeric whereas Longvida and Meriva formulations use phospholipids to increase absorption of curcuminoids. I recommend avoiding curcumin supplements with added Bioperine or piperine (black pepper extracts) if you’re taking any other medications or supplements with or near curcumin due to its inhibition of drug-transporter P-glycoprotein and drug-metabolizing enzyme CYP3A4, which decreases elimination of some medications and increases their side-effects and hepatotoxic potential. Other formulations that improve absorption are also available, including microparticles, but they are not as widely available as the ones mentioned above.

The most common side-effect of curcumin supplements is gastrointestinal discomfort, but itching and edema have also been reported. Some people experience alterations to liver enzymes in as little as one month of taking curcumin supplements. Contraindications include bile duct obstructions and gall bladder disease, bleeding disorders, diabetes, GERD, hormone sensitive cancers and other hormone sensitive diseases such as endometriosis, infertility, iron deficiency, surgery, alfentanil, anticoagulant and antiplatelet drugs, anti-diabetes drugs, antifungals, camptothecin, calcium channel blockers, chemotherapeutic agents, cisapride, fentanyl, glucocorticoids, lidocaine, losartan, fexofenadine, mechlorethamine, midazolam, sulfasalazine, tacrolimus, and more.

Standard dosing is 500-1000mg once or twice daily with meals containing natural fats.

Disclaimer: The content herein is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is not meant to diagnosis, cure, or treat any medical condition. Always consult a physician or other qualified healthcare provider with questions regarding a medical condition and before starting new diets and dietary supplements. Not all diets or supplements are appropriate for all people or all health conditions.

 

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