Life Extension Magazine February 2014
Bio-Enhanced TURMERIC Compounds Block Multiple Inflammatory Pathways
By Michael Downey
Inflammation plays a key role in the development of cardiovascular disease, which is responsible for almost one-in-four American deaths every year.87
Curcumin given to animals on a high-cholesterol diet decreased their total serum cholesterol 21% and their harmful low-density lipoprotein (LDL) by almost 43%, but increased their beneficial high-density lipoprotein (HDL) by 50%!15 Its lipid modulating effects have not been shown to work this well in humans.88
Ginger extract given to diabetic rats, significantly suppressed—in just seven weeks—cholesterol and triglycerides, high levels of which contribute to cardiovascular disease.16 It also significantly lowered blood sugar levels. In another study, ginger extract injected intravenously into rats was shown to significantly lower blood pressure and in a dose-dependent fashion.17
Stents that slowly release turmeric oil were implanted in dogs with blocked arteries. Scientists found that this turmeric-laced stent inhibited the infiltration of dangerous inflammatory cells. It also reduced various factors that often cause new arterial blockages to occur (restenosis).89
After these compelling findings, scientists turned their attention to human trials.
Given to clinical trial volunteers in dosages of 500 milligrams daily, curcumin showed a remarkable 29% increase in HDL cholesterol levels after just seven days.88 Even a one percent increase in this “good” form of cholesterol can reduce heart disease risk—so this finding is important.90
Ginger was shown to enhance efficacy of the antihypertensive drug nifedipine (Procardia®) in human subjects. Combining one gram of ginger with 10 milligrams of the drug daily significantly boosted the anti-platelet aggregation effect in both normal and hypertensive persons.13 This is the tendency of blood cells to clump together, potentially producing a dangerous clot and pathological cardiovascular and cerebrovascular complications.
People over age 65 make up 65% of all American arthritis patients.91 The hallmarks of the most common form of this joint disease, osteoarthritis, are inflammation and cartilage destruction.92 Fortunately, while both ginger and curcumin block inflammation— curcumin also inhibits cartilage breakdown by the body!93 It does this by protecting the cells found in cartilage called chondrocytes from the inflammatory compounds (IL-1beta and MMP-3) that break them down in arthritis, as well as via other pathways.93
Curcumin strongly blocked rheumatoid arthritis symptoms in animal studies by inhibiting joint inflammation as effectively as methotrexate,6 a drug with serious and sometimes fatal side effects.94 Curcumin improved arthritis scores in mice7 and suppressed osteoarthritis inflammation in dogs.95
Ginger extract blocked inflammatory mediators in a cell culture study—notably the signaling molecule prostaglandin E2—and reduced inflammatory swelling (edema). Researchers described the results as, “a potent suppressive effect on acute and chronic inflammation.”11
Clinical trials have now confirmed these results in humans.
Curcumin in doses of 500 milligrams daily was given to one group of rheumatoid arthritis patients. The NSAID drug diclofenac in doses of 50 milligrams daily was given to a second group. And a combination of the two was given to a third group. The group receiving curcumin-only had the greatest reduction in joint pain and swelling, with no adverse effects. By contrast, nearly 14% of participants in the drug-only group dropped out due to adverse effects!8
Ginger or placebo was given to 29 patients with symptomatic knee arthritis in dosages of four daily capsules of 250 milligrams each. After three months, those taking placebo switched to ginger and those taking ginger switched to placebo, and then the study continued for an additional three months. After a total of six months, the patients experienced significantly less pain and handicap during their ginger-supplemented months than during their placebo months—and reported improvements on a standardized scale used to assess mobility.12
Also, ginger extract given to osteoarthritis patients in doses of 340 milligrams daily for 4 weeks proved equally as effective as 100 milligrams of the drug diclofenac.9 However, the drug group experienced an increase in digestive pain (dyspepsia) and degeneration of their stomach mucosa.9
Among Americans 65 or over, 26.9% have diabetes.96 Diabetics are at risk for pain associated with nerve damage (neuropathic pain),97 accelerated brain aging and cognitive decline (diabetic encephalopathy)98,99 and, of course, high blood sugar. However, the powerful plant extracts we’ve been discussing have the potential to prevent or reverse many of these complications.
Curcumin successfully attenuated experimentally-induced neuropathic pain response—recognized as one of the most difficult types of pain to treat—to mild stimuli (hyperalgesia) in diabetic rats.100 This powerful action is likely due to curcumin’s ability to reduce inflammation signaling molecules called cytokines, reduce the activation of pain signaling molecules and receptors, and reduce the depressive effect of pain.101-107 Also, chronic curcumin treatment reversed much of the extreme inflammation and oxidation damage in the brains of diabetic rats and substantially boosted their performance on memory and cognition tasks.99
Ginger extract was given to diabetic rats, and after just seven weeks, their fasting glucose levels —the blood sugar reading between meals — were significantly reduced.16 The researchers suggested that “ginger may be of great value in managing the effects of diabetic complications of diabetes in human subjects.”16
Memory and cognitive decline often starts about age 50, and by age 80, it is estimated nearly half of all individuals will have some form of cognitive change or dementia.108 As you’ll see, curcumin and ginger offer great promise to stave off this tragedy.
Curcumin administered in animal models of Alzheimer’s has been shown to enhance clearance of amyloid-beta from the brain. This is a malformed protein, the accumulation of which is strongly associated with Alzheimer’s. Curcumin crosses the blood-brain barrier and appears to directly bind to the plaque!109
Scientists fed ginger extract to rats for two weeks before they blocked (occluded) an artery in the brain, and for three weeks afterward. Cognitive testing was done at the end of each of the three weeks following arterial blockage. Researchers found that the ginger extract significantly increased cognitive function and neuron density (in the brain area known as the hippocampus) while significantly decreasing the area of damaged brain tissue—or brain infarct.110
A study team incubated curcumin with macrophages (immune cells) taken from human Alzheimer’s patients. These macrophages are immune cells that normally identify, engulf, and destroy amyloid-beta, but in Alzheimer’s patients these macrophages failed to handle this function.111 In the laboratory, after being treated with curcumin, macrophages from half of the patients significantly increased the amount of amyloid-beta they were able to absorb (uptake).112 These data demonstrate that curcumin may be able to defend against—and even reverse—the Alzheimer’s disease process.
Ginger was tested in a study of 60 healthy middle-aged women who were given 400 or 800 milligrams of the extract, or placebo, daily for two months. Their working memory and cognition were tested before supplementation and after one and two months. The ginger participants showed significantly enhanced working memory, and brain activity consistent with boosted cognitive capability. This suggests that ginger may defend against, and reverse middle-aged cognitive function.113
Turmeric oil was found to exhibit powerful and broad antioxidant activity,5 and data suggest it may suppress neuroinflammation in neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s.46,114
Even when pain is not initially apparent, chronic inflammation can eventually lead to serious diseases such as cancer.1,2
Drugs that target acute inflammation are often not suitable for long-term use, and may involve substantial side effects.3,4
In a significant breakthrough, three natural ingredients have been identified that powerfully block the signaling molecules that trigger chronic inflammation.5,32-40
Ginger , curcumin, and turmeric oil block inflammation at multiple points of the process, safely minimizing long-term disease risk.5,32-40
Multiple studies demonstrate that these three extracts combat an array of disorders, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, and arthritis.5-22
These three extracts have been combined in a groundbreaking formulation that greatly boosts absorption!25,27,60,61
If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call a Life Extension® Health Advisor at 1-866-864-3027.