New ways to crank up curcumin

Study suggests promising methods of upping the bioavailability of curcumin.


For those of us with Panang curry addictions, we can never get enough curcumin - the compound in the curry key turmeric, that’s become an ingredient superstar. Functionally speaking, however, the bioavailability of the compound can be a challenge. Researchers are developing new ways to increase the power of curcumin, according to a review of recent research written by Amy C. Keller, PhD, published in the March edition of the American Botanical Council’s HerbClip.

From anti-inflammatory to antidepressant, curcumin packs as many suggested health benefits as a Bollywood hit has musical numbers. “Limited uptake and rapid metabolism have been problematic to the larger therapeutic potential of curcumin use,” writes Keller. She examined a study published in the January issue of Molecular Nutrition and Food Research designed to crank up the bioavailability of the root.

Researchers conducted a single-blind, crossover study to compare the bioavailability of native curcumin versus the the bioavailability of curcumin encapsulized in circular, water-soluble aggregates (micellation) and micronized (reduced partical size) curcumin. Twenty-three healthy, male and female subjects between the ages of 19 and 28 years were studied. The scientists measured their blood and urine using high-performance liquid chromatography.

“Both preparations greatly increased bioavailable curcumin, DMC (demethoxycurcumin), and BDMC (bisdemethoxycurcumin) over native curcumin, with the micelle preparation being the most effective,” wrote Keller. “The preparations will ultimately assist with the efficacy of curcumin use for many health conditions,” she wrote, noting that future studies should focus on their adverse side effects as well. Those included nausea, vomiting, fatigue, headache, stomacheache and regurgitation.

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