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I was raised in a family of cooks. I think the main things I learned were to be fearless in the kitchen, have fun and to eat my mistakes (this encouraged me to be able to fix my mistakes, at least a lot of them).  I also love Indian food, so I was super excited by the research coming out about curcumin (the yellow pigment in the spice turmeric), especially the anti-inflammatory research.

Curcumin, the yellow pigment in the spice turmeric, is a powerful anti-inflammatory herb/spice/supplement

So is Curcumin a tasty Indian spice or a powerful anti-inflammatory supplement?

Well actually, it is BOTH.

There is a lot of data out there on curcumin and here is a synthesis. Curcumin, the yellow pigment in the spice turmeric, is a powerful anti-inflammatory herb/spice/supplement and has been used for centuries as a treatment for inflammatory diseases.

How does Curcumin Decrease Inflammation?

Warning: This gets technical…if you want to keep it simple, just know that curcumin works as an anti-inflammatory herb in a variety of ways that are very powerful. 

For those that want to know how, here is a summary of the extensive research over the past two decades that has shown that curcumin works to decrease inflammation in many ways.

  • It down-regulation of inflammatory transcription factors (such as nuclear factor kappa B which is linked to cancer, autoimmune disease and other inflammatory conditions) so they make less templates to create the bad stuff.
  • It changes in specific pro-inflammatory enzymes (such as cyclooxygenase 2 and 5 lipoxygenase.  In this way curcumin act like celebrex or motrin to decrease inflammation by decreasing the enzyme that helps make the bad stuff.
  • It decreases cytokines (such as tumor necrosis factor, interleukin 1 and interleukin 6) less cytokines, less inflammation means less bad stuff.

It also works in other ways mentioned below.

Because of the crucial role inflammation plays in most chronic diseases, the potential anti-inflammatory effect of curcumin has been examined for cancer, heart, lung, brain, diabetes and other and metabolic diseases.

Since most of the people who read these articles are dealing with heart disease, here is the data from some exciting studies.

  • As an Antioxidant, it reduce diabetic cardiovascular complications.
  • As a blood thinner, it helps prevent heart attacks and strokes (similar to aspirin).
  • The anti-thrombotic, anti-proliferative, and anti-inflammatory effects of curcumin and the effect of curcumin in decreasing the serum cholesterol level may protect against atherosclerosis.
  • Curcumin can be therapeutic for arrthythmias. The anti-inflammatory effects of curcumin may help prevent atrial arrhythmias and the possible effect of curcumin for correcting the Ca(2+) homeostasis may play a role in the prevention of some ventricular arrhythmias.
  • Decreased risk of LVH: The p300-HAT inhibitory effects of curcumin have been demonstrated to decreas the development of cardiac hypertrophy and heart failure in animal models.
  • Decrease risk of post-bypass heart attack. A study in Thailand followed 121 patients who had bypass surgery between 2009 and 2011. Starting at three days before surgery through five days after, half of the patients took curcumin capsules (4g a day), while the other half took placebo pills. During their post-bypass hospital stays, fewer people in the curcumin group (13 percent) had a heart attack versus people in the placebo group (30 percent). This is exciting as curcumin decreased the risk of post-bypass heart attack by 65%. 


The following are doses recommended for adults:

  • Cut root: 1.5 – 3g per day
  • Dried, powdered root: 1 – 3g per day
  • Standardized powder (curcumin): 400 – 600mg, 3 times per day
  • Fluid extract (1:1) 30 – 90 drops a day
  • Tincture (1:2): 15 – 30 drops, 4 times per day

Source: Turmeric | University of Maryland Medical Center

Remember that curcumin is more powerful when mixed with black pepper due to increased absorption (increases absorption by 2000%).

Cautions: those taking blood-thinning medicines (turmeric also thins blood), people with ulcers, (turmeric increases stomach acid), in diabetics, (curcumin may lower blood sugar which may be good but also bad if it goes too low), children, pregnant and breast-feeding women (high doses have not been well studied). 

So, go ahead, spice it up with tumeric, add some black pepper and enjoy the flavor of healing.

What are your experiences with using Tumeric (curcumin)?



Contributed by

Ben Brown, MD
Medical Director, Ornish Lifestyle Medicine

To your best health!

in collaboration with...

Dean Ornish, MD.
Program Founder

Awareness is the first step in healing. Just Ask!

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