Could curcumin support patients with liver disease?

Between 2015 and 2017 there were 26,265 premature deaths due to liver disease in England, a rate of 18.5 per 100,000 population under the age of 75. Liver disease includes cirrhosis, which is the scarring and hardening of liver tissue in response to damage. The causes of cirrhosis include drinking lots of alcohol for many years, hepatitis C infection and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Cirrhosis can’t be cured, so treatment is focused on managing symptoms and complications, whilst preventing the condition worsening. 

Researchers have explored the food supplement curcumin for its beneficial effects supporting patients suffering from other liver diseases, but it is only recently that studies have focused on cirrhosis. Curcumin is a yellow polyphenol isolated from the rhizome of Curcuma longa, more commonly known as turmeric, a characteristic plant of tropical and subtropical regions. Turmeric has been used as a spice and traditional medicine in Asia for centuries, and it’s now a popular food supplement in the West.

The new study aimed to investigate the effects of curcumin supplementation in patients suffering from liver cirrhosis. In this clinical trial, 70 patients with liver cirrhosis aged 20-70 years were randomly divided into two groups to receive 1,000 mg/day curcumin or placebo for 3 months. End-stage liver disease scores were used to assess the severity of their cirrhosis. 

60 patients (29 in the curcumin group and 31 in the placebo group) completed the study.  End-stage liver disease scores decreased (improved) significantly in the curcumin group after a 3-month intervention, whereas they increased (got worse) significantly in the placebo group. Significant differences were only observed between the two groups after a time frame of 3-months.  Similar doses are used in other liver diseases such as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. This is exciting news for medical professionals looking for ways to support people suffering from liver disease.

If you would like to explore the powerful anti-inflammatory support of curcumin for yourself, why not take a closer look at our curcumin food supplement? 

Altruvita Curcumin+ comes in 250mg capsules and is the most absorbable form on the market.

Suffering from stiff and creaky joints?

Stiffness and aching joints are often associated with winter, in particular the dropping temperatures and increase in wet weather. The exact science behind why colder weather increases joint pain is still slightly unclear, but there’s plenty of evidence to show levels of discomfort rise when it’s cooler. For those living with arthritis or stiff, aging joints it’s worth exploring natural support to get through the winter in comfort. Introducing turmeric, a vibrant yellow spice that could be a secret weapon in the battle against join stiffness and pain. 

Turmeric has traditionally been used in Chinese and Indian Ayurvedic medicine to treat arthritis. Curcuminoids within turmeric are collectively called ‘curcumin’ and we are confident in the science which shows that curcumin blocks inflammatory cytokines and enzymes, including cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), in the same way as the common non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) painkiller ibuprofen. A study on knee osteoarthritis patients compared the ability of curcumin and another NSAID called diclofenac to inhibit cyclo-oxygenase 2.Both the groups showed significantly reduced cyclo-oxygenase 2 secretions, meaning inflammation levels were lower after the use of a painkiller, but also after the use of curcumin.

Several recent studies show that turmeric/curcumin has noticeable anti-inflammatory properties and it also modifies immune system responses related to arthritis.  A 2006 study showed turmeric was more effective at preventing joint inflammation than reducing joint inflammation. However, a 2010 clinical trial found that a turmeric supplement provided long-term improvement in pain and function in 100 patients with knee osteoarthritis.

One study compared the effects of ibuprofen (2 × 400 mg/day) with those of curcumin (4 × 500 mg/day) in patients who were over 50 years of age, had severe knee pain and their radiography showed the presence of osteophytes. Both the groups showed improvements in all assessments but the curcumin group was statistically better in patient satisfaction, timed walk or stair climbing and pain during walking or stair climbing. 

A pilot clinical study evaluated the safety and effectiveness of curcumin alone, and in combination with diclofenac sodium in patients with active rheumatoid arthritis. Forty-five patients diagnosed with RA were randomized into three groups with patients receiving curcumin (500 mg) and diclofenac sodium, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). (50 mg) alone or their combination. The curcumin product reduced joint pain and swelling in patients with active rheumatoid arthritis better than diclofenac. More importantly, curcumin treatment was found to be safe and did not relate with any adverse events.

Another study evaluated the comparative efficacy of two different doses of curcumin with that of a placebo in active rheumatoid arthritis patients. Twelve patients in each group received placebo, 250 or 500 mg of the curcumin product twice daily for 90 days. Patients who received the curcumin product at both low and high doses reported statistically significant changes in their clinical symptoms at the end of the study. These reported changes were backed up by changes seen in patients’ blood tests. 

Curcumin+ is a powerful anti-inflammatory*, antioxidant* formula that helps support inflammatory issues for optimum wellness. It helps protect and support joint comfort and flexibility*.

* EFSA ARTICLE 13.1 BOTANICALS ON HOLD LIST.

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Particular Particulates

A study just published today the 22th August, tells a tale of how our health is being affected by pollution, in particular particulates.

Teams from across the globe recorded their daily data on mortality (number of deaths) and their air pollution levels. Teams were located in 652 cities in 24 countries or regions.

Although there are dangers known for outdoor air pollutants; sulphur dioxide, ozone and nitrogen dioxide etc, this study was just looking at very small particles. They evaluated the associations of inhalable particulate matter (PM) with a diameter of 10 μm or less (PM10) and fine PM with a diameter of 2.5 μm or less (PM2.5) with daily all-cause, cardiovascular, and respiratory mortality. In other words, they measured the particles in the air on every day and recorded number of deaths on that day.

They found that increases short-term exposure to PM10 and PM2.5 led to small but significant increases in all causes of deaths, and cardiovascular eg heart attack, and respiratory mortality eg asthma attack.

These are just 2 types of pollutants, adding in data from all pollutants lead to further deaths.

It’s a stark reminder that pollution levels need to fall to improve global health.

Liu C, et al. Ambient Particulate Air Pollution and Daily Mortality in 652 Cities. N Engl J Med. 2019 Aug 22;381(8):705-715. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1817364.

Photo by veeterzy on Unsplash

7 key facts about turmeric

Turmeric

Have you heard about the purported healing and health benefits of turmeric and are keen to find out more? Perhaps you’ve been told by friends or read online that you ought to include turmeric in your diet, and you’d like to know a little more about its properties and benefits before heading out to buy it. We’ve gathered 7 facts about turmeric and included information on how it can support your health in this blog to help you out.  

  1. Turmeric is a warm and slightly bitter spice that is ground from the root of the plant of the same name and is closely related to the spice ginger. Turmeric has been used in Asian cooking throughout history – it is it what gives so many Asian foods a distinctive and vibrant yellow colour. In fact, turmeric is the main ingredient in curry powder.
  2. Turmeric is also used in Chinese and Indian Ayurvedic healing, traditionally to treat sprains, swellings and a range of skin conditions. The ‘healing’ powers of turmeric have been recognised in Asian cultures for around 6,000 years, but it is only recently that it has attracted greater interest from the scientific and nutritional communities in the west.
  3. Curcumin is the name given to a group of compounds called curcuminoids. Curcuminoids are the active part of turmeric that delivers the health benefits people are seeking when they chose to take the spice or a curcumin-based supplement for nutritional reasons.
  4. Curcumin has both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Those who take it report that it has helped to ease joint pain and the antioxidant properties help fight against free radicals in the body which damage cells and contribute to disease. A curcumin-based mouthwash has even beaten a chemical mouthwash for reducing gum inflammation and plaque in a recent study.
  5. There is a school of thought that the benefits of curcumin might extend to the nervous system (including the brain) and that that could have implications for its use in treating depression. That’s something that is clinically unproven at the moment, but worth keeping an eye on in the future as more studies get underway.
  6. In order to ensure curcumin is easily absorbed by the body, turmeric needs to be heated in oil (so, just like it would be if cooked in a curry!) or warm with milk, as it is fat-soluble. People who take standard curcumin capsules need to take them with fat-rich foods to ensure that key active ingredient is absorbed. Otherwise, that all-important curcumin will not be effectively absorbed and so much benefit is lost.
  7. Altruvita’s Curcumin+ dietary supplement contains CurcuWIN, a form of curcumin that does not need to be taken with oil or fats as it has been coated with lipids to ensure it will be effectively absorbed. In fact, it is absorbed 46 times better than standard curcumin capsules or tablets. That’s the Altruvita difference!

If you’re feeling inspired to add curcumin to your diet after reading this, why not take a closer look at the Altruvita Curcumin+ supplement. Our nutritional supplements are formulated from the highest quality ingredients and are approved by the Vegetarian Society as being vegan-friendly. Take a look: https://altruvita.com/curcuminplus2/

Vitamin D and IBS

Over the past few years there has been a renewed interest in vitamin D as it has been found to be strongly associated with many diseases. For example intestinal inflammation, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease and some cancers cancer have strong associations with vitamin D deficiency.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a functional disorder of the gastrointestinal system affecting a large number of people worldwide. Although it doesn’t directly kill people, flatulence, bloating, distention, pain, diarrhoea and constipation have a substantial impact on patients’ quality of life. Appointments for IBS symptoms also put a large financial burden on healthcare services and patients are often forced to trialling unsafe dietary restrictions alone without professional support.

Although the role of vitamin D deficiency in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) has not yet been established one new study tried to establish the role of vitamin D deficiency in IBS patients compared to a healthy control group.

Sixty patients with IBS and 100 healthy individuals were included as test and control groups, respectively, in the study. The average blood level (nmol/L) of IBS patients was compared to the control group levels.

Although vitamin D is common in various parts of the world, there was a statistically significant difference in the mean vitamin D level between healthy and IBS patients. Vitamin D deficiency was detected in 49 patients (82%) in the IBS group and 31 patients (31%) in the control group.

These results suggest that vitamin D should be tested in IBS patients and vitamin D supplementation could play a therapeutic role in the control of IBS.

Reference

Khayyat Y, Attar S. Vitamin D Deficiency in Patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Does it Exist? Oman Medical Journal. 2015;30(2):115-118. doi:10.5001/omj.2015.25.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Most fragrances cause indoor air pollution

From our hand soap to our surface spray, our body wash to our perfume, air fresheners and candles, household cleaners and laundry liquid; scents are all around us. This may not make any sense according to gathering research.

Contrary to popular belief, most exposure to hazardous pollutants that affect health and well-being occurs indoors. A primary source of these indoor pollutants and exposures are dyes, smoke, sealants, fire retardants and now fragrances.  Common fragranced consumer products include air fresheners, cleaning products, washing powder/liquid, and deodorants/body sprays and perfumes.

Do you feel unwell when you’ve been indoors for a few days or do you have symptoms that you think must be related to food sensitivities?

Exposure to fragranced products have been associated with a range of adverse human health effects, including migraine headaches, contact dermatitis, asthma attacks, respiratory difficulties, and mucosal symptoms In two previous surveys, it was found that 17.5% and 20.5% of the general US population (between 2002–3 and 2005–6 respectively) reported breathing difficulties, headaches, or other health problems when exposed to air fresheners and deodorizers.

Fragranced consumer products emit dozens of different volatile compounds, including terpenes (e.g., limonene, alpha-pinene, and beta-pinene) that are primary pollutants, and that react with ozone in our households to generate secondary pollutants such as formaldehyde and acetaldehyde. Even some so-called ‘green’, ‘atural’ and ‘organic’ fragranced products emit hazardous pollutants, similar to regular fragranced products because it may only include 1 ingredient of better quality. Little information exists, however, on potentially hazardous compounds emitted from fragranced products, in part because products are not required to disclose all ingredients. Thus, knowledge of potential exposures and effects is essential to effective risk reduction.

Imagine this common scenario; you recently buy an expensive candle ‘made with the finest natural ingredients’. You open it and on the back it says ‘extremely hazardous to aquatic life’ and ‘may trigger allergic reactions’. Made in China. It doesn’t state what the wax is, so it’s probably the cheapest material- paraffin. So apart from being useful for lighting the room, the company stated it’s selling something really toxic at the same time as stating it has ‘finest natural ingredients’. 

Not so relaxing to breath that scented candle any more…

There are now calls for fragrance free zones as well as smoke-free zones being initiated in the US and Australia. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Indoor Environmental Quality Policy (CDC, 2009) states that “Scented or fragranced products are prohibited at all times in all interior space owned, rented, or leased by CDC.” 

For health professionals and patients, when faced with health problems such as headaches, respiratory difficulties, mucosal symptoms, rashes, asthma, and others, consider the possibility that fragranced products could be a contributor. Many people who believe that food may be making them ill may be surprised that even their favourite perfume may be the culprit.

Most fragrances cause indoor air pollution.

Look out for vitamins, oils and botanicals that have been used in air pollution studies, within our products.

Photo by Marina De Salis on Unsplash

Multi-tasking plants in combating air pollution

Air pollution is on the rise. When indoor and outdoor air pollution are combined, WHO estimates that in 2012, some 14% of deaths were due to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or acute lower respiratory infections, and 14% of deaths were due to lung cancer.

Emissions from vehicles are a major contributor to air pollution. They release nitrogen dioxides and fine particles, leading to local pollution especially in urban areas. The most damaging type of outdoor air pollution is fine particulate matter smaller than 2.5 micrometres in diameter (PM2.5 ).
Other sources contributing to PM2.5 concentrations can come from afar however, as there have been many occasions where ‘Saharan dust’ has triggered respiratory problems in the UK population, but the dust has been found to contain these fine particulates and ammonium nitrate from Europe.

Air pollution reduces overall life expectancy in healthy individuals, but in combination with other existing health conditions can also cause early death.

A study from 2017 looked at the role of woodland, grassland, moorland and crops in removing a suite of air pollutants which are known to have substantial impacts on human health. The study looked at levels of PM2.5, nitrogen dioxide, ground level ozone, and sulphur dioxide in these areas. 

The study showed that plants are great at removing pollutants right across the UK and this overall reduction in the levels of pollutants leads to a substantial health benefit.

Several groups got together and estimated the health benefits of removing each pollutant and calculated the economic value. The main health impacts originate from respiratory and cardiovascular health effects, and deaths. The benefits are greater in urban areas because that is where most people live.

Plants remove air pollution by providing a large surface area for particulate matter to settle on, and by active uptake of gases into the leaves or chemical reactions with the leaf surface. Collectively these processes are called ‘dry deposition’. The amount of pollution a plant can remove depends partly on its leaf area and size, but also varies greatly depending on the weather, the time of year (for deciduous species which drop their leaves in winter), and on the other pollutants present in the atmosphere.

The health benefits calculated were substantial, with estimated avoided health costs of one billion pounds in 2015, the majority of this is from removal of PM2.5. The study also estimated 5,800 fewer respiratory hospital admissions, 1,300 fewer cardiovascular hospital admissions, 27,000 less life years that were lost, and 1,900 fewer premature deaths.

So it looks like if we are filling our garden or hedges with plants, we want those with big surfaces that don’t drop leaves Autumn-Winter.

Meanwhile, indoor air pollution is also a constant problem and a threat to health. So looking further into the idea of how houseplants can fend off the potentially harmful effects of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), a main category of air pollutants, a team of researchers have made some new discoveries. They found that certain plants are better at removing specific compounds from the air – this is especially meaningful for indoor air, as studies have shown that interior air can have three to five times more pollutants than outside (apart from in high traffic areas).

VOCs include things like acetone, benzene, formaldehyde and tolulene – they are emitted as gases and can cause short- and long-term health effects. People with asthma and COPD are especially sensitive. They are invisible to the eye and come from common things many of us have around the house, things as innocent-seeming as candles, furniture, copiers and printers, cleaning chemicals.

Since the NASA research in the 1980s, a number of studies have looked into how plants improve air quality, but most of the research has looked at the removal of single VOCs by individual plants from the air; but one groups wanted to compare the efficiency of simultaneous removal of several VOCs by a number plants. The team used a sealed chamber in which they monitored the VOC concentrations over several hours with and without a different type of plant. For each plant they measured the VOCs the plants took up, how quickly they removed these VOCs from the air, and how much of the VOCs were removed altogether. They gathered five plants (spider plant, dracaena, Caribbean tree cactus, bromeliad and jade plants) and gave them 8 VOCs.

They found that all of the plants were good at removing acetone, but the dracaena plant took up the most, around 94 percent of the chemical. The bromeliad plant was great at removing six of the eight VOCs, taking up more than 80 percent of each over a 12-hour sampling period. Likewise, the jade plant was very good for toluene.

Particular botanicals and nutrients from food have been tested in combatting all sorts of nasty bits floating around in our air, so take a look at our products!

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CurCuring Oral inflammation

Curcumin has been highlighted for use in many health problems- from cancer to heart disease, but we don’t often think about potential benefits which don’t involve consuming the stuff. We know it’s a great anti-inflammatory agent, so there has been particular interest in using it to decrease signs of inflammation around the body. The latest area has been for inflamed gums, or gum disease.

Chlorhexidine is one form of standard mouthwash for oral inflammation, but it doesn’t sound like a great chemical to swill around your mouth does it, and it may trigger allergies.

A new study compared 0.1% curcumin mouthwash to 0.2% chlorhexidine gluconate as an antiplaque agent and its effect on gum disease inflammation.

One hundred and fifty subjects, age between 20 and 30 years were recruited and  split into 3 groups- one curcumin, one chlorhexidine and one inactive placebo.

Curcumin mouthwash was shown to be as effective in antiplaque and anti-gum disease properties as chlorhexidine mouthwash. A study in 2012 had a similar result.

It gives people a natural option which is unlikely to trigger an allergy, or kill off good bacteria. Perhaps eating turmeric in curry several times a day has a similar anti-inflammatory effect, although before you go making your own, remember that turmeric and its extracts do stain bright yellow- it is used as a natural food colouring after all! We’re pretty sure only people with a brace need to worry about that, all the rest of us shouldn’t gain a fluorescent smile 😉

Reference

Chatterjee A, Debnath K, Rao NKH. A comparative evaluation of the efficacy of curcumin and chlorhexidine mouthrinses on clinical inflammatory parameters of gingivitis: A double-blinded randomized controlled clinical study. J Indian Soc Periodontol. 2017;21(2):132–137. doi:10.4103/jisp.jisp_136_17 �

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