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Turmeric Rising: Turmeric and Curcumin Research Is Hot

Views:6     Author:Golden Horizon (Chengdu) Technology Co., Ltd.     Publish Time: 2016-06-22      Origin:Golden Horizon (Chengdu) Technology Co., Ltd.

Turmeric, the herb du jour, has long outgrown its reputation as merely a flavorful spice. Promising clinical data plus powerful marketing campaigns heralding turmeric’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory health benefits have turned this rhizomatous plant into a star. The result? Sales are up-way up.


In both 2013 and 2014, turmeric was the number one bestselling herbal ingredient in U.S. natural and health food stores, with more than 30% sales growth in 2013-2014 alone, according to the American Botanical Counci’s (Austin, TX) annual HerbalGram U.S. herbal dietary supplement sales report. HerbalGram’s report on 2015 herbal sales isn’t out yet, but if we were to bet, we’d anticipate similarly stellar results.


Scientists and consumers are now simply fascinated by what turmeric and its active constituent, curcumin, can do for health. But what exactly is all the fuss about? Turmeric’s claim to fame is a seemingly unending roster of emerging studies pointing to potential, wide-ranging applications for the golden spice and its extracts. Let’s take a look at some of the latest health indications under investigation. All research described herein concerns the turmeric species Curcuma longa, unless otherwise noted.


Exercise Recovery

Thanks to its anti-inflammatory action, curcumin may be a promising exercise recovery aid. Researchers at the University of North Texas reported that a curcumin extract reduced inflammation markers in adult subjects after exercise.


Study participants who consumed 400 mg/day of the Longvida brand of curcumin extract experienced a reduced increase in creatine kinase (CK) and inflammatory cytokines after a leg press exercise, compared to a placebo group. Among the curcumin group, researchers observed significantly smaller increases in CK (-48%), TNF-α (-25%), and IL-8 (-21%).


Interestingly, despite a smaller rise in inflammatory markers, researchers noted that subjects didn’t necessarily feel any improvement in muscle soreness, based on questionnaires the subjects completed. But, according to Longvida’s supplier, Verdure Sciences (Noblesville, IN), this is not unusual. “Inconsistencies in a reduction in soreness are expected, as soreness is a very subjective measurement,” says Sonya Cropper, vice president of marketing and innovation. That may also explain inconsistencies in soreness measures in previous studies on curcumin and exercise.


Muscle soreness may not necessarily impact function, but the North Texas study researchers noted that muscle inflammation “directly interferes with muscle function (i.e., reduced range of motion, reduced contractile ability, etc.),” even if the athlete does not immediately perceive the inflammation.


Here’s where curcumin may help. One primary way by which curcumin lowers body inflammation is by inhibiting COX-2, an enzyme that triggers inflammation. (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are used for the same purpose, by the way.) A significant amount of scientific literature has already outlined the COX-2 effect, and now other proposed mechanisms for curcumin’s anti-inflammatory properties are under investigation.


Elsewhere in the sports market, OmniActive Health Technologies (Morristown, NJ) is assessing its CurcuWin curcumin extract for effects on arterial stiffness after exercise. 2 Lynda Doyle, OmniActive’s vice president of global marketing, says this will be the first public study on curcuminoids and arterial stiffness. The results could complement results of another Omni Active study, presented in April, which found the company’s curcumin significantly increased flow-mediated dilation (the ability of blood vessels to expand and contract) in adults after exercise.


3Reduced arterial stiffness and increased flow-mediated dilation may also translate to significantly better heart health outcomes. According to Doyle, a mere 1% increase in flow-mediated dilation reduces one’s heart disease risk by 9%-17%. In OmniActive’s study, flow-mediated dilation increased by a mean 2.8%.

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