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.

Alternative treatments for Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) remains a common and difficult to manage gastrointestinal condition. There is growing interest in the use of traditional medicine to manage IBS, as prescribed drugs often fail after time and revolve around symptom management of cramps and diarrhoea rather than addressing the cause of the problem. In particular, curcumin, a biologically active phytochemical, has demonstrated anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties in several studies. 

Last year a group of researchers looked at all the studies available with IBS and curcumin. 3 studies were included in the final analysis this included treatment of 326 patients.

They found curcumin to have a beneficial effect on IBS symptoms. With its unique antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities, and ability to modulate gut microbiota, curcumin is a potentially useful agent for IBS. It also appears safe and well-tolerated, with no adverse events reported in the available trials. 

There are more studies on the way looking at even more benefits that it may have in the gut and elsewhere in the body, so watch this space!

Altruvita’s Happy Tum supplement contains highly absorbable curcumin, green tea and vitamin D. Take a closer look at Happy Tum here.

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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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/

Fecal Microbiota Transplant

Fecal Microbiota transplant (FMT) is making the news this week. It is where faeces are transplanted from a healthy person [1] into another bowel to help change the bacterial make-up; the microbiota. Yes, you read this correctly!

Why would you want to do this? It acts in the same way as a probiotic and although it sounds disgusting, it has been used very successfully in treating clostridium difficile (C. diff) infection. It also looks to be one way of treating inflammatory bowel diseases; Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, since the causes of these may be from bacterial imbalance.

You may be wondering how the new microbiota get there? It is performed using nasogastric tubes, endoscopy, enema or colonoscopy. There are also ongoing trials on using carefully sealed capsules for oral administration. If the disease is in the small intestine, access through the mouth is favoured and if in the large bowel, access through the rectum is preferred.

There are some websites that show how you can try it yourself, although this could be very risky business. Faeces should be pre-screened for infectious diseases, or there is a risk of picking up more than you bargained for.

An excellent review published a few years ago, explaining the topic in more depth [2].

Have you tried diet and supplements first?

References

[1] Bakken J S et al (2011) “Treating Clostridium difficile Infection With Fecal Microbiota Transplantation”. Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology; 9(12):1044–1049.

[2] Kelly CR, Kahn S, Kashyap P, et al. Update on Fecal Microbiota Transplantation 2015: Indications, Methodologies, Mechanisms, and Outlook. Gastroenterology. 2015;149(1):223–237. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4755303/

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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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Exhausted: Curcumin?

Studies have identified an association between daily changes in concentration of outdoor air pollution and daily number of deaths and hospitalisations, particularly from cardiovascular disease and following relatively short time after exposure.

It has been suggested that traffic-derived particles, of which diesel exhaust particles are major contributor, are the most toxic component. Diesel exhaust particles have been associated with increased risk of cardiopulmonary diseases. We know that even inhaling diesel exhaust fumes once e.g whilst out walking, or jogging traffic, causes lung inflammation and changes in blood clotting.

We’ve known about the potential health hazard for a while now, a study in 2012 looked at repeated exposure effects and the protective effects of curcumin. Mice were exposed with repeated doses of DEP (15 µg/animal) every 2nd day for 6 days (a total of 4 exposures), and measured several heart and lung functions 48 h after the end of the treatments. The effect of curcumin (the yellow pigment isolated from turmeric) on DEP-induced cardiopulmonary toxicity was also assessed.

Diesel exhaust particle exposure increased white blood cell numbers, tumour necrosis factor α (TNF α) in lung fluid, and enhanced airway resistance. It also increase signals of stress and systolic blood pressure. When mice were given curcumin (45 mg/kg) 1 h before exposure, it significantly prevented the effects listed above mainly through use of its anti-inflammatory ability.

Studies such as this suggest we need more research on using curcumin and other supplements in populations exposed to air pollution. Curcumin is already a popular supplement, and it looks like it can add another string to its bow in regards to pollution.

Reference

Nemmar A, Subramaniyan D, Ali BH. Protective effect of curcumin on pulmonary and cardiovascular effects induced by repeated exposure to diesel exhaust particles in mice. PLoS One. 2012;7(6):e39554. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0039554. Epub 2012 Jun 22.

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Choose Curcumin For a Boost to Mind and Body

Have you ever tried to get rid of a turmeric stain from clothes or your kitchen counter? It resists the fiercest scrubbing. But it may be some consolation to know that the power of turmeric is not limited to its colour.

Part of the ginger family, turmeric has been used for generations, not only to boost flavour in cooking, but also to support wellbeing. The success of turmeric in treating ailments is believed to be thanks to curcumin, a natural chemical compound found in it. And the more we get to know about it, the more evidence seems to support the choice of curcumin for a boost to mind and body.

Curcumin has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and has been shown to have benefits for the bowel, breast, pancreas and liver. Antioxidants fight against free radicals in the body, which damage cells and contribute to disease. Many studies have revealed that curcumin also works with the nervous system, including the brain, and there has been further research to see whether curcumin could be used to treat depression.

While turmeric, and therefore curcumin, is common in Indian and South Asian cooking, the typical Western diet could benefit from more. We know that, for curcumin to be absorbed into the body effectively, it’s best either eaten with fat or heated in oil before it is eaten. Mixing it with small amounts of olive or rapeseed oil (high in essential fats) is probably the best option. However, for curcumin to have an impact in our bodies, we need to keep enough of it in the blood and it can be difficult to get this much from diet alone.

Scientists continue to study curcumin to try and understand the full extent of its promise. In the meantime, the nutritional evidence firmly supports the inclusion of curcumin in our diets, especially where we have specific health concerns.

Altruvita Curcumin+ contains use CurcuWIN® a form of curcumin that is 46 times more absorbable than standard curcumin**.