Curcumin: An AMPK Activating Nutraceutical

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What is Curcumin?

Curcumin is a polyphenolic compound that is biologically active and has anti-inflammatory properties. It is a yellow colored chemical compound that is used as a food additive.

It is also processed to manufacture cosmetics, herbal supplements, food coloring, and as a food flavoring. This compound was isolated by chemists Pelletier and Vogel back in 1815.

They described it as a kind of yellow coloring matter. They were able to extract it form turmeric rhizomes and they called it as curcumin. Even though the west has yet to validate the potency of this polyphenol, it has been used for many centuries in Ayurvedic medicine.

Chemically, curcumin is classified as a type of natural phenol and it belongs to the curcuminoid group. It is responsible for the yellowish color of turmeric root.

What Plant(s) Is It Extracted From?

The active ingredient or compound that is found in turmeric is called curcumin. It can also be extracted from ginger but only in smaller amounts. It is the compound that gives turmeric its yellowish color.

Mechanism of AMPK Activation

According to studies, curcumin is an effective AMPK activator. Click here to see the review. It can also suppress the expression of gluconeogenic genes. Its potency to against inflammation and anti-oxidant properties have been acknowledged and documented.

Unfortunately curcumin’s mechanism of AMPK activation is currently unknown. What is known so far of its mechanism of action is rudimentary at best. Most of the trials so far can only confirm its anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant effects.

Effects from Taking Curcumin

Anti-Inflammatory Effects: Studies have shown that curcumin is effectively anti-inflammatory. It has also been suggested that this polyphenol is just as effective as anti-inflammatory medication. Of course, actual clinical trials need to be performed to establish that comparison as a fact. Click here to see the report.

It has also been found that curcumin targets the body’s inflammation at a molecular level. It is an NF-kB blocker. NF-kB is a molecule that activates inflammatory genes. Some experts believe that this molecule is behind many modern chronic diseases.

Increases the Body’s Antioxidant Capacity: free radicals get neutralized due to the chemical structure of curcumin. On top of that, it is suggested that curcumin has the capability to boost the body’s enzymes for anti-oxidation. That property shows the powerful antioxidant effects of this extract. Click here to see the review that deals with the action of curcumin on free radicals. Click here to see its action when promoting natural antioxidant enzymes.

Improved Brain Function: curcumin can help boost the body’s brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) levels. BDNF is a kind of growth hormone that chiefly affects the brain and its functions. Alzheimer’s, depression, and other brain disorders are linked to decreased BDNF levels.

Heart Disease: heart disease is a very complex condition and it is considered as the biggest killer in the world. There are a lot of factors that contribute to such a condition. Curcumin can help with heart disease by improving the function of th e lining of the blood vessels or the endothelium.

Note that endothelial dysfunction is considered as one of the triggers of heart disease. It has been linked to factors like blood clotting and problems with blood pressure.

One study shows that taking curcumin can be like taking a statin drug such as Atorvastatin. Another study shows that taking this dietary compound brings about the same benefits to heart health as having regular exercise. To see the text of the reviews of the said studies, please click here and here.

Curcumin Recommended Dosages

According to a published paper by UCLA’s Mary S. Easton Alzheimer Translation Center (neurology department), the optimal dose of curcumin is currently unknown. Nevertheless, studies are underway and perhaps we may come with a more concrete answer soon. Click here to see the actual publication.

Several factors tend to affect any dosage recommendation. The said factors include the following:

  • How curcumin is formulated (as in the case of supplements).
  • If you take it in a dissolved form or not.
  • If you take it with an empty stomach or not.
  • The tissue levels that is achieved given its formulation.

It should be noted that curcumin is not actually characterized as a drug. At best, it is classified as a type of nutritional supplement. According to an Oregon State dietary supplement report on this polyphenol, it has been determined that curcumin is poorly absorbed by human beings when taken orally. Click here to see the report.

This poor bioavailability when taken orally is due to the fact that curcumin is quickly metabolized by the body. Therefore it is easily eliminated or excreted before any beneficial reactions. Note that this observation has to do with pure curcumin and not formulated for better absorption levels.

Current clinical trials involving animals (no human trials to date) suggest that one needs to take about four up to 8 capsules of curcumin each day. Each capsule is 500 mg and that is the established effective dose.

In another study, this one from Ohio State University, suggests that a regular dose of 80 Longvida curcumin has a beneficial effect on persons ages 40 to 60 years of age. The benefits include a reduction in inflammation and cholesterol levels. Click here to see the said published study.

Can you take doses of curcumin via turmeric extracts? Yes, of course. However, note that a turmeric extract contains other nutrients and compounds other than curcumin.

When taking turmeric extracts to take advantage of the benefits of curcumin, it is recommended that adults 1.4 grams of the extract daily to treat high cholesterol levels. The dose should be divided into two.

In one study, participants took four grams of curcumin for 30 days. The result was that the participants experienced as much as a 40% reduction in the number of colon lesions. The study suggests that curcumin may be used in conjunction with conventional cancer treatments using the same dosage. However, it has not yet been determined if 4 grams a day is the optimal dose for patients who suffer similar or related issues. Click here to see the report.

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