Lee Swanson, President of Swanson Health Products®
Dr. Michael T. Murray
Dr. Michael T. Murray is one of the world's leading authorities on natural medicine. He has published over 30 books featuring natural approaches to health. His research into the health benefits of proper nutrition is the foundation for a best-selling line of dietary supplements from Natural Factors, where he is Director of Product Development. He is a graduate, former faculty member, and serves on the Board of Regents of Bastyr University in Seattle, Washington.
SWANSON: Curcumin is gaining popularity more rapidly than just about any other herbal product on the market today. What's behind this surge of interest?
DR. MURRAY: Scientific investigation. In very detailed studies, curcumin has been found to possess a broad range of beneficial effects in improving human health, including acting as a powerful antioxidant and cell protector. As of January 2014, more than 5,000 articles representing scientific studies on curcumin were listed in the National Institutes of Health PubMed database.
SWANSON: Many people think curcumin and turmeric are the same thing, but that's not really the case, is it? Can you explain what curcumin is and why it's important to choose a supplement that contains curcumin rather than turmeric?
DR. MURRAY: Curcumin is the yellow pigment of turmeric (Curcuma longa)—the chief ingredient in curry. Turmeric is a member of the ginger family that is extensively cultivated in India, China, Indonesia, and other tropical countries. The rhizome (root), with its tough brown skin and a deep orange flesh, is the part used. Turmeric is usually cured (boiled, cleaned, and sun-dried), polished and ground into a powder. In addition to being used in curry powder it is also used in other foods both for its color and flavor. For example, take a look at the label of prepared mustard and you will see turmeric, as it is used to boost the color of mustard to a more vibrant yellow. Crude turmeric provides only a small amount of curcumin, much like crude gold ore only provides a small amount of 24-carat gold. Curcumin is the 24-carat gold in turmeric.
SWANSON: Curcumin can also vary greatly in the way it is produced and in the way it reacts in the body. What makes Theracurmin® different and, in your opinion, superior to other forms?
DR. MURRAY: Theracurmin is an all-natural preparation that utilizes advanced techniques to reduce the particle size of curcumin, thereby dramatically increasing its solubility. At equal dosage levels, Theracurmin produces blood levels of curcumin metabolites in human and animal studies that are up to 300 times greater than regular curcumin and significantly greater than any other commercial form.
SWANSON: Theracurmin is referred to as "particle surface controlled;" what does this mean and how is it achieved?
DR. MURRAY: The average particle size of curcumin in Theracurmin is 0.19 to 0.3 μm compared to an average particle size of 22.75 μm in curcumin powder. That represents a reduction of over 100 times. This reduced particle-sized curcumin is then mixed with a vegetable gum (gum ghatti) to produce what is known as a colloidal suspension that dramatically increases the solubility of curcumin in water. Greater solubility in water means easier absorption in the body. The result is an unparalleled increase in the absorption of curcumin compared to all other commercial forms tested, including other enhanced forms of curcumin.
SWANSON: You've said that curcumin holds potential benefits for a wide variety of health concerns, from brain/mental health to cardio health, metabolic health, muscular health and more. But there's one underlying mechanism that unites all of these things, which curcumin helps address. What is the common thread that connects these various concerns?
DR. MURRAY: One of the body's primary responses to any challenge is inflammation. If this inflammation is out of control, it can disrupt the structure and function of individual cells and the body as a whole. Curcumin has been shown to help maintain the normal inflammatory response. Since inflammation is at the core of many health concerns, this holds great promise in many, many health applications. Curcumin produces this effect by helping the biological mediators that control this response.
Curcumin is referred to as a pleiotropic molecule in the scientific literature. What that term means is that it exerts a multitude of beneficial effects. The figure below shows the various biological mediators curcumin has been shown to influence. The abbreviated terms surrounding curcumin represent various mediators. While most compounds only impact one or maybe two of these mediators, curcumin exerts actions against all of them.
One of the most important actions of curcumin is on the formation of NF-κB (nuclear factor kappa-light-chain-enhancer of activated B cells). This protein complex controls transcription of DNA in the production of potentially harmful biological factors. NF-κB is activated by a number of factors and overproduction of NF-κB has been linked to a wide variety of health concerns. Curcumin, via inhibition of NF-κB, holds tremendous promise for supporting optimal health among those facing such challenges.
SWANSON: Theracurmin is the subject of published clinical studies and ongoing trials. What can you tell us about the research?
DR. MURRAY: The lifeblood of any sustainable natural product is clinical research. The reason that Theracurmin is being hailed as a major breakthrough is based upon the results from clinical trials and the great thing is that over a dozen additional studies are soon to be published. As of the writing of this article in January 2014, nine human trials have been completed and published. These studies demonstrate benefits for liver health, alcohol metabolism, skin health, periodontal health, muscle and joint health, vascular health, heart health and global quality of life (QOL) scores. The results of every study have been truly remarkable.
SWANSON: Who should consider taking Theracurmin? Are there any known interactions that one should avoid?
DR. MURRAY: I believe nearly everyone can benefit from Theracurmin supplementation. Detailed studies have shown both curcumin and Theracurmin to be extremely safe.
Curcumin has several possible theoretical drug interactions, but only a few of these have been confirmed. I recommend anyone taking the following drugs to be sure and check with their physician before taking any curcumin product: Camptothecin, Mechlorethamine, Doxorubicin, Cyclophosphamide and Norfloxacin.