Curcumin has been touted as a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant for centuries. In the past 25 years alone there have been over 3,000 medical studies(1) conducted on the efficacy of curcumin in the treatment of a vast array of diseases and illnesses.
Not only is curcumin anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, but it is also considered to be an anti-cancer, antibacterial, and anti-viral supplement.
This spicy yellow nutrient that is found in turmeric has been used as a dietary supplement for the treatment of cancer(2), inflammation, arthritis, stomach issues, skin problems, gallbladder infections, and many other ailments. Because curcumin has been found to be helpful in the prevention of acute and chronic lung disorders(3), the superfood has potential uses in the treatment of COVID-19 related lung illnesses.
Other Modern Medical Uses For Curcumin
Not many other superfoods have such near-universal praise from researchers(4) as curcumin. Touted as “the golden spice,” for its ability to act as a panacea for a host of ailments, this superfood is a beneficial addition to any vitamin or supplement regime.
Of the many medicinal uses for curcumin, the ability to prevent and treat chronic lung conditions has piqued the interest of researchers recently. Improving the outcome for patients who suffer from these conditions is more vital than ever in light of the increase in mortality rates for COVID-19 patients with these diseases.
The lung-related illnesses that curcumin has been found to be part of an effective treatment plan for include chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), allergic asthma, and acute lung injury.
In clinical studies, curcumin has shown promise in reducing airway inflammation for sufferers of COPD. By minimizing obstructions to airflow in the lungs through the suppression of inflammatory pathways, COPD patients saw reductions in some symptoms. This powerful anti-inflammatory has also been linked to the suppression of cancerous changes(5) that can be influenced by chronic inflammation in the lungs.
Studies are showing that curcumin is beneficial in the prevention and treatment of many inflammation-related chronic diseases(6) including cardiovascular, neurodegenerative, pulmonary, metabolic, malignant and autoimmune diseases.
The wide range of illnesses that can be treated with curcumin is expansive, here are some of the other medicinal uses for curcumin(7):
- Urinary tract infections
- Liver ailments
- Wound healing
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Digestive disorders
- Menstrual pain
- Colon cancer
History of Curcumin Use In Medicine
For over 4,000 years this bright yellow plant has been used by many cultures to treat everything from a sprained ankle to cancer. It is sometimes called “Indian saffron” because of it’s used in India in traditional Ayurvedic medicine. The Ayurvedic form of medicine originated 3,000 years ago and focuses on the interconnectedness of plants, the environment, and our health.
Curcumin is a member of the ginger family and is mostly grown and consumed in India. Being consumed in cooking and medicine for thousands of years in India has led to over half of the world’s supply of curcumin being produced in India and nearly 80 percent of all curcumin being consumed by the South Asian country.
By reducing inflammation in the body, curcumin has proven to be useful for treating so many ailments that it’s widely considered to be a cure-all. From treating minor aches and pains to inhibiting tumor growth, these broad applications have made this powerful antioxidant a staple in folk medicine, traditional Chinese medicine, Ayurvedic medicine, and many other healing practices for centuries.
In traditional medicine, the more common uses for curcumin are:
- Antiseptic and antibacterial purposes - cleaning burns and cuts
- Anti-inflammatory - treatment for swelling and sprains
- Improving blood circulation - opens up blood vessels
- Strengthening the overall energy of the body - lowers oxidative stress on cells
The deep yellow color of the spice also lends itself to uses in food coloring, sunscreens, makeup, and dyes.
How To Take Curcumin
There are a variety of ways to take curcumin but because the supplement has poor solubility, it is not easily absorbed in the gut and is quickly metabolized. It is beneficial to optimize the method of delivery that is used when taking curcumin supplements to negate these factors.
Liposomal encapsulation has proven to be an effective method of delivery for drugs and has shown in studies to increase the absorption levels and rates for a variety of supplements.
Liposomes are being utilized in treatment plans for minor ailments to major illnesses.
Cancer treatment plans are using liposomes for targeted treatment of specific organs. This site-specific targeting for use with highly volatile and powerful drugs can reduce the chances of other organs being damaged by the toxicity of the strong medicines needed to treat cancerous growths in the body.
Liposomes are readily absorbed into the bloodstream at a higher rate than many other drug delivery methods can provide for most supplements. Through what is essentially a mimicking of the body’s own cells, liposomes aren’t recognized as a foreign substance in the body. This equates to a larger quantity of the drug or supplement being absorbed into the bloodstream.
Liposomes also increase the biocompatibility of the medicines that they are carrying(8), making them more readily available for absorption. There is also evidence that liposomes can help with the timed-release of some drugs. Promoting the controlled and sustained release of the drugs into the body has been shown to lower systemic toxicity when compared to other methods.
The increased absorption rates, site-specific targeting, and the promotion of the controlled and continual release of drugs into the body are the top reasons that cancer researchers are looking to liposomes to improve patient outcomes.