Thursday, 7 April 2016

Curcumin: Problems and promises

I take curcumin regularly. This is a nice visual representation of how it potentially acts as an anti-cancer agent providing all conditions requiring therapeutic efficacy are met.

Bioavailability is key here to make the most of the therapeutic benefits of curcumin. If you take it as a supplement make sure it is paired with piperine and is taken in therapeutic doses. We need more in vivo studies in brain tumour patients to elucidate what would act as an optimal dose, crossing the blood brain barrier so I will continue to research this medicinal compound. 

'Major reasons contributing to the low plasma and tissue levels of curcumin appear to be due to poor absorption, rapid metabolism, and rapid systemic elimination. To improve the bioavailability of curcumin, numerous approaches have been undertaken. These approaches involve, first, the use of adjuvant like piperine that interferes with glucuronidation; second, the use of liposomal curcumin; third, curcumin nanoparticles; fourth, the use of curcumin phospholipid complex; and fifth, the use of structural analogues of curcumin (e.g., EF-24). The latter has been reported to have a rapid absorption with a peak plasma half-life. Despite the lower bioavailability, therapeutic efficacy of curcumin against various human diseases, including cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, arthritis, neurological diseases and Crohnʼs disease, has been documented. Enhanced bioavailability of curcumin in the near future is likely to bring this promising natural product to the forefront of therapeutic agents for treatment of human disease.' 

As the acclaimed philosopher Karl Popper explained, a good scientist should constantly be trying to prove themselves wrong in order to have a truly unbiased opinion. This forms the basis of pure, valid, reliable scientific research.

If I am trying to prove myself right all the time without a healthy degree of skepticism I may ignore the challenges and barriers that appear to be appropriate considerations when undertaking my own research. Preconceived notions must be forgotten to avoid so called 'pseudo-science', this is always my approach.

It is only by seeking to disprove my theories and scrutinising the methods and conclusions of these studies that I can come to a valid conclusion once I have all the evidence and all questions have been answered. Knowledge is about probability and contingency, we are justified in believing whatever seems most probable given our current data and we should always be willing to revise our beliefs in light of new data. My metabolic approach to my specific situation will progressively evolve as I continue to question myself and learn more.


  1. Thanks to the synergy created by combining different foods, the anti-cancer action of one molecule may be considerably increased by the presence of another molecule, an extremely important property for the anti-cancer compounds of dietary origin that are generally present in the blood in very small quantities. One of the best examples of this kind of synergy is the ability of a molecule in pepper, piperine, to increase the absorption of curcumin in the spice turmeric by more than 2,000 times, resulting in plasma concentrations of curcumin that are likely to interfere with the aggressive behaviour of cancer cells.


  2. One thing to research, curcumin is not found as an isolate in nature and its various cofactors most likely add synergy, boost bioavailability and buffer side effects. Based upon some Indian research I saw several years ago, I take turmeric with 5% black pepper and 5% ginger, moistened with honey, by the heaping teaspoon.

    1. Good advice Karen, I will look into this! :)

      Looks like I should add ginger but may have problems with the honey!