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How much medicinal value in turmeric?

 
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Tumeric may have medicinal uses, but we're talking fractions of what has been claimed and the research prospects are somewhat confounded.

Curcumin inteferes with research methodology via chemical mechanisms, so the results do not reflect the target activity being tested for ...
It is also extremely non-bioavailable, rendering it useless

Curcumin has recently been classified as both a PAINS (pan-assay interference compounds) and an IMPS (invalid metabolic panaceas) candidate. The likely false activity of curcumin in vitro and in vivo has resulted in >120 clinical trials of curcuminoids against several diseases. No double-blinded, placebo controlled clinical trial of curcumin has been successful. This manuscript reviews the essential medicinal chemistry of curcumin and provides evidence that curcumin is an unstable, reactive, nonbioavailable compound and, therefore, a highly improbable lead.



Chemistry of Tumeric


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Bummer. It grows so well and I've spent years eating it, forcing it into unflavorsome combinations to try and get some benefit.

My two takeaways are 'If it sounds too good to be true...' and that its not worth going to great lengths to grow a lot of it and preserve it.
Just store it in the ground and see it for the plain, peppery curry-colorant that it is.
 
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Do not yet despair! In the fourth paragraph of their conclusion they say:

Of course, we do not rule out the possibility that an extract of crude turmeric might have beneficial effects on human health. The large RC of NP extracts, and even of refined NP preparations, makes the identification of the active constituent(s) and evaluation of their efficacy in humans very difficult.51,162 Considering the overwhelming evidence showing the weakness of isolated curcumin (almost always a mixture of curcuminoids) as a viable therapeutic, consideration of holistic approaches that take into account the chemical and PD/PK complexity of turmeric and its broad TxM/nutritional foundation appears to be superior directions for future research in the turmeric domain. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5346970/



They have been studying curcumin exclusively. Many scientists appear to disregard the usefulness of the combined interactions   between chemical contents of nature's herbs.
 
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If you study substances that are non-reactive in the state in which you study them, they will probably test as non-reactive. If a catalyst is required for those two substances to react and one isn't present, you might not see any inkling of that reaction.

As to bioavailability, piperine is supposed to interact in the body with tumeric in a way that makes it bioavailable. I have lost the link to the article where I read this, but I will attempt to link to it in a future post. I don't know, though, that I have seen a traditional tumeric dish that is served without the addition of black pepper. I mean, they probably exist, but most of the ones I have eaten contain black pepper. I wonder if it's a case of learning of food interactions through observation over time, that digestion was perhaps improved in those whose tumeric had pepper in it, and so that practice was adopted.

I would like to see more studies done. Certainly what has been brought up suggests that ongoing study needs to continue.

And I will still eat it. I like how it goes in my curries. The colour is just spectacular. It turns the suds all golden orange when I wash the pots.

-CK
 
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My father's physician recommends the turmeric preparation Theracurmin as the only treatment which has shown evidence of halting and even reversing symptoms of Alzheimer's.  This is a concentrated form of curcumin.  I don't have citations of the papers he read to come to this conclusion, but I trust him as a well-read, intelligent guy.  My dad is 89 and has moderate stage Alzheimer's.  He seems to have stabilized at this stage and I have hopes that with the continuation of his current routine of diet, exercise, and medications, he can live out most of the rest of his life with few symptoms.  His major symptom is almost complete loss of short-term memory and he has lost some deductive ability, but otherwise he just seems like an old guy, his apparent age about 79.

Here is a link to one abstract:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2781139/
 
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I've become somewhat skeptical of scientific research and I'll try to explain why. Generally, science likes to isolate a single compound, and study that, in laboratory controlled conditions such as in a petri dish in a controlled environment. Science is very good at breaking apart something (like turmeric for example), and choose one compound to study. Science loves chemistry, as chemistry can be precisely measured and understood with little or no mysterious grey area with things that can't be explained. Science sometimes can tend to forget about, not consider or intentionally exclude a myriad of other factors that can influence the results in a test that a scientist is performing, such as catalysts like Chris mentioned. It's very difficult, or maybe even impossible, to study a subject as a whole that include multiple external factors like biology and environment, and achieve the same repeating results, which can be done with chemistry. I'm no scientist, but what if, as an example to offer external influences, curcumins in the digestive tract of humans for example, get altered by some of the trillions of gut bacteria, which then make it available for the human body to absorb and use. Sometimes new scientific studies contradict the results of old scientific studies, and I'm willing to bet dollars to donuts that in 10-20 years, a new scientific study will contradict the findings in the report listed above.
 
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are you saying all this is wrong
this web site  healthline says there is evidence that turmeric is good for the human body and mind

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/top-10-evidence-based-health-benefits-of-turmeric
 
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James, add to that the problems inherent to scientific publishing (old boy network, predatory publishing, focus on isolated compounds with money-making potential, and general discounting of research done outside of certain regions-- including lots of research out of India) and I also find myself getting out the salt shaker.
 
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I have a moderately high suspicion that turmeric has helped me out.  I can't prove it and a few other dietary changes could be at work but I think it's the turmeric.

I added ground turmeric to my morning eggs (along with black pepper) about a year ago.  At about that same time I started sleeping through the night without getting up to pee.  I went from averaging a pee trip maybe 5 out of 7 nights to zero.  
 
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I have an issue with my hands, not yet identified. Pain in between the fingers, especially on sideways pressure or a prodding gesture.

In a couple months it went from intermittant and annoying from heavy use only, only in the index and middle fingers of my right hand, to being triggered by any use plus random stabs, incapacitating intensity and in all fingers of both hands.

I could not squeeze the trigger of a drill, pick light items up, drive the excavator, etc, without severe pain. Heavy manual labour was right out. Intensity comparable to contact with a fractured bone; enough to see stars, lose my breath, yelp when unexpected.

I tried tumeric capsules as a stopgap, and within 2 days the issue was >95% resolved. I am taking one 9000mg equiv per day; if I miss one, symtoms will start ramping up within 12 hours.

I still need to be careful, and some things done for relatively modest periods will start bringing it back, but the difference is absolutely immense..
 
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Turmeric needs, in my experience, a bit of black pepper added, to increase its bioavailability. I say in my experience, because even though it's anecdotal, and (like James), I'm no scientist, Ihappily and often, experiment on myself. I've tried turmeric in many therapeutic doses/ways - my favorite being in golden milk. I'd read, somewhere, that the simple addition of piperine (aka black pepper) increased the bioavailability, dramatically. So, I made my usual golden milk with that easy, and very tasty addition. I'd been drinking it nightly, for about a month, and while I liked it, and it was soothing, warming - but, didn't seem to be having any noticeable effect, on my inflammation. After adding the black pepper, I liked it even better, it was more warming, tastier, and, within a week, I was actually noticing that I felt better, too. So, why did I stop drinking it? Because 6months later, it felt too seasonally hot to drink anything warming - and, when the seasons got cooler again, I'd packed my kitchen, to move - and just never got around to doing it, again. Thank you, for the reminder - I'll now happily go back to doing what I know works beautifully, *for me*!
 
Chris Kott
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James Freyr wrote:I've become somewhat skeptical of scientific research and I'll try to explain why. Generally, science likes to isolate a single compound, and study that, in laboratory controlled conditions such as in a petri dish in a controlled environment. Science is very good at breaking apart something (like turmeric for example), and choose one compound to study. Science loves chemistry, as chemistry can be precisely measured and understood with little or no mysterious grey area with things that can't be explained. Science sometimes can tend to forget about, not consider or intentionally exclude a myriad of other factors that can influence the results in a test that a scientist is performing, such as catalysts like Chris mentioned. It's very difficult, or maybe even impossible, to study a subject as a whole that include multiple external factors like biology and environment, and achieve the same repeating results, which can be done with chemistry. I'm no scientist, but what if, as an example to offer external influences, curcumins in the digestive tract of humans for example, get altered by some of the trillions of gut bacteria, which then make it available for the human body to absorb and use. Sometimes new scientific studies contradict the results of old scientific studies, and I'm willing to bet dollars to donuts that in 10-20 years, a new scientific study will contradict the findings in the report listed above.



I am far more skeptical of how people attempt to communicate their scientific understanding. It's like playing broken telephone across a continent. Plus, some levels of complexity require a scientific background just to understand.

It's like trying to describe what dimensions are. Sure, I can take the 2D to 3D example, and I can suggest that time is another dimension, and maybe that they are different "directions," in the sense of length, width, depth, and duration, but beyond that, I am at a loss to explain them, other than to say that I know enough that I am fairly certain that they aren't the same as "alternate realities" as suggested by some interpretations of the multiverse idea (I hesitate to call it a theory, though it well may be already, I'm just not knowledgeable enough to know).

There is so much specialisation in the world that specialised fields of knowledge get deep. And broad, so that you can encompass all the surface-level of one half of one field, say, and yet feel unconnected to other parts of that field. Just ask Dr. Redhawk about what humus is, and what his colleagues' take on it is.

This is complicated without adding bits about academia and tenure or the profit motive in industry.

I think we need to ditch this comfort some have carefully cultivated with the concept of mediocrity, of it being okay, or even laudable, to be a bumbling buffoon, or to not care enough to retain a basic knowledge of science and maths. I think we need to be encouraged, and to encourage others, to excel in whatever we choose to excel in, but to not stop trying outside of that. Exceptionalism means that you constantly strive to be the best, not that your level of mediocrity becomes the global standard.

So I wouldn't dismiss scientific research so quickly. I would be very careful about getting to the source, and reading what is actually said, and looking at the data or having it explained to me, at need.

-CK
 
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Chris Kott wrote:

James Freyr wrote:I've become somewhat skeptical of scientific research and I'll try to explain why. Generally, science likes to isolate a single compound, and study that, in laboratory controlled conditions such as in a petri dish in a controlled environment. Science is very good at breaking apart something (like turmeric for example), and choose one compound to study. Science loves chemistry, as chemistry can be precisely measured and understood with little or no mysterious grey area with things that can't be explained. Science sometimes can tend to forget about, not consider or intentionally exclude a myriad of other factors that can influence the results in a test that a scientist is performing, such as catalysts like Chris mentioned. It's very difficult, or maybe even impossible, to study a subject as a whole that include multiple external factors like biology and environment, and achieve the same repeating results, which can be done with chemistry. I'm no scientist, but what if, as an example to offer external influences, curcumins in the digestive tract of humans for example, get altered by some of the trillions of gut bacteria, which then make it available for the human body to absorb and use. Sometimes new scientific studies contradict the results of old scientific studies, and I'm willing to bet dollars to donuts that in 10-20 years, a new scientific study will contradict the findings in the report listed above.



I am far more skeptical of how people attempt to communicate their scientific understanding. It's like playing broken telephone across a continent. Plus, some levels of complexity require a scientific background just to understand.

It's like trying to describe what dimensions are. Sure, I can take the 2D to 3D example, and I can suggest that time is another dimension, and maybe that they are different "directions," in the sense of length, width, depth, and duration, but beyond that, I am at a loss to explain them, other than to say that I know enough that I am fairly certain that they aren't the same as "alternate realities" as suggested by some interpretations of the multiverse idea (I hesitate to call it a theory, though it well may be already, I'm just not knowledgeable enough to know).

There is so much specialisation in the world that specialised fields of knowledge get deep. And broad, so that you can encompass all the surface-level of one half of one field, say, and yet feel unconnected to other parts of that field. Just ask Dr. Redhawk about what humus is, and what his colleagues' take on it is.

This is complicated without adding bits about academia and tenure or the profit motive in industry.

I think we need to ditch this comfort some have carefully cultivated with the concept of mediocrity, of it being okay, or even laudable, to be a bumbling buffoon, or to not care enough to retain a basic knowledge of science and maths. I think we need to be encouraged, and to encourage others, to excel in whatever we choose to excel in, but to not stop trying outside of that. Exceptionalism means that you constantly strive to be the best, not that your level of mediocrity becomes the global standard.

So I wouldn't dismiss scientific research so quickly. I would be very careful about getting to the source, and reading what is actually said, and looking at the data or having it explained to me, at need.

-CK



A laudable goal! I rarely have the time to dig as deep as I would like, but it is interesting how often a very small amount of digging will show an enormous disconnect between the conclusions being presented by some intermediary, and what the study itself says.
 
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I have made a point of using turmeric, just because of all the good things I've heard about it.

I sure hope all of those things are true and that plenty of black pepper is needed. Turmeric is one of the few things that grows well under teak trees, and I want to grow lots of them. The production of black pepper is also in my plans. So, I want doctors to continue recommending heavy use of both, in order to keep prices up, if nothing else.

Almost all of the tumeric I've eaten has been in conjunction with Indian food that is generally a much healthier choice than if I went out to a burger joint. So it's hard to know when people claim health benefits, weather it's the tumeric alone, or the general improvement in their diet.

I have made a point of eating turmeric when I have joint pain. But I also make a point of taking it easy if I have joint pain. For now I will continue to eat it regularly.
 
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