Curcumin is an organically active polyphenolic chemical present in turmeric (Curcuma longa). For centuries this spice has been widely used in many Asian nations for culinary purpose. In addition, turmeric also possesses therapeutic properties.

Turmeric encloses many diverse curcuminoids. However, curcumin is a major curcuminoid present in turmeric and it is responsible for the spice's color as well as roughly 2% of its weight. Curcumin is hauled out of turmeric via a process involving a solvent, for instance ethanol (also called ethyl alcohol) - the type of alcohol that is present in beverages. It is worth mentioning here that alcohol is only used in the process to extract curcumin from turmeric and the curcumin powder derived from turmeric does not have any alcohol content.

Health benefits

Curcumin offers numerous health benefits. Among its various health benefits, curcumin possesses the ability to control the body's intake of fat and also lower the body's fat content. In addition, curcumin helps to reduce insulin, thereby helping us to reduce obesity. At the same time, it is also useful to us as it helps to reduce inflammation associated with obesity.

In test tube experiments, it was found the curcumin has the ability to get in the way of specific molecular pathways that are involved in the growth, development as well as spread of cancer. Similarly, studies undertaken on animals have hinted that this biologically active polyphenolic compound has the ability to hold back carcinogenic enzyme formation in rodents. On the other hand, human studies undertaken to assess the potential benefits of curcumin in preventing and treating cancer are still in the very preliminary stages.

Intake of curcumin every day offers a number of health benefits. For instance, this substance aids in reducing weight. In addition, it is also helpful in dealing with your other weight-related problems. By increasing the intake of curcumin you can successfully deal with your weight-related issues and, at the same time, reduce obesity and extra flab. Among the other benefits of taking curcumin daily is that it helps in reducing the levels of low density lipo-protein (LDL) or "bad" cholesterol in your system by taking the edge off adipose tissue. In fact, curcumin helps you to burn your body fat and maintain a healthy weight.

In animal as well as human studies it was found that curcumin promotes production of normal skin cell and wound repair. These effects were found to be equally helpful irrespective of whether curcumin was taken orally or directly applied on the wound.

Intake of curcumin or applying it topically has a soothing effect. In fact, curcumin is among the most effective means to naturally treat symptoms of swollen and red tissues. Many studies have proven that intake of turmeric daily helps to reduce swelling, stiffness and tenderness of the joints.

It is well known that elevated levels of histamines in the body trigger asthma attacks and allergies. Studies have shown that intake of curcumin effectively restricts the release of histamine from the mast cells. Therefore, herbalists usually recommend people vulnerable to allergies and asthma to regularly take foods containing curcumin, for instance turmeric.

Since the ancient times, brides in India traditionally applied a paste of turmeric and other herbs on their face prior to their marriage. In fact, since ancient times, people were aware that turmeric helps to enhance the tone of the skin, diminish the signs related to aging and, at the same time, improves the overall health of the skin. Hence, it you desire to look youthful for a long period, it is advised that you also try applying or ingesting some turmeric daily.

As curcumin offers several therapeutic benefits, using this biologically active polyphenolic compound helps to cure a range of skin conditions from vitiligo to psoriasis and even skin cancer. As far as psoriasis is concerned, this is an inflammatory skin condition wherein the skin becomes red, dry and scaly. Using curcumin not only helps to improve the texture of the skin, clinical trial has shown that it may also aid in complete remission of psoriasis. The findings of that clinical trial demonstrated that most people suffering from psoriasis respond well to treatment with curcumin. In some cases, it was found that using curcumin helped in complete remission of nearly 90% of the symptoms related to this skin condition.

On the other hand, vitiligo is a skin condition which causes skin pigmentation. As curcumin as well as its derivatives possess potent antioxidant properties, they are extremely useful in treating vitiligo. Results of a study undertaken by Thai researchers on 10 vitiligo patients demonstrated that treating this skin condition with ultra-violent therapy that includes a cream enclosing curcumin led to notable re-pigmentation once the therapy was completed.

It is worth mentioning here that inflammation is extremely important as it aids the body to combat alien invaders and, at the same time, plays a vital role in mending the damages. In the absence of inflammation, various pathogens such as bacteria are able to take over our body easily and even kill us. While short-term or acute inflammation is beneficial for our body, it can turn out to be a major issue when the inflammation becomes long-term or chronic. Chronic inflammation is often deployed unsuitably against the tissues of our body causing more harm than good.

Presently, people are of the view that low-level, chronic inflammation has a vital role in nearly all chronic, western ailments. Such ailments include metabolic syndrome, heart disease, Alzheimer's, cancer and a variety of degenerative health conditions, especially those that affect our musculoskeletal system like rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia and degenerative joint disease. In addition, there are muscular strains, lower back pain or pain in the lumbar region and overuse syndromes such as bursitis and tendonitis. Any substance that has the ability to help us combat such chronic inflammation is of great importance in preventing as well as treating the above mentioned ailments. Fortunately for us, it has been proven that curcumin possesses potent anti-inflammatory properties.

Among the various killer diseases in the world, heart disease claims the most number of lives every year. Over the years, numerous studies have been undertaken on this subject and today researchers are aware about the reasons that result in development of heart disease. It has been determined that heart disease is extremely complicated and various reasons contribute to developing this condition. Interestingly, curcumin possesses the ability to reverse several steps that eventually lead to heart disease. Most possibly, the primary benefit of using curcumin in the case of heart disease is its ability to enhance the functioning of the endothelium, which is actually the lining of the blood vessels. Now, it is well known that the dysfunction of endothelium is one of the major reasons that cause heart disease. Dysfunction of the endothelium makes the lining of the blood vessels incapable of regulating blood clot formation; keep the blood pressure in check and a number of other factors. Findings of numerous studies have hinted that use of curcumin results in enhancing the functioning of the endothelium. In addition, curcumin also works to decrease inflammation as well as oxidation that are also vital factors in the process leading to heart disease.

It is interesting to note that curcumin also possesses the ability to enhance the brain levels of a type of growth hormone called Brain-Derived Neurotropic Factor (BDNF), which functions in our brain. In fact, any decrease of this hormone has been related to several common disorders of the brain. A healthy level of BDNF in the brain may result in inhibiting or even reversing several brain diseases as well as age-related diseases. This vital hormone also improves the functioning of the brain and may also help to enhance your memory.

It has been established that Alzheimer's disease is among the most commonly occurring neurodegenerative disease across the world and it is also a major cause of dementia. However, there is some promising news waiting, as it has been found that curcumin has the ability to go beyond the blood-brain barrier. It is now well known that oxidative stress and inflammation play a major part in developing Alzheimer's disease. In fact, curcumin has a positive impact on inflammation and oxidative stress. It is worth mentioning here that one of the main traits of Alzheimer's disease is accumulation of protein tangles known as amyloid plaques. It is now believed that using curcumin may aid in clearing up such protein build-up.

In many Western countries, arthritis is a widespread problem. While there are several diverse types of arthritis, some or other kind of joint inflammation is common to all of them. Considering the fact that curcumin possesses potent anti-inflammatory properties, it is wise to use this biologically active polyphenolic compound to treat arthritis.

Curcumin possesses potent anti-inflammatory properties that aid in easing all types of inflammatory diseases, which affect the bowels such as dyspepsis (nausea, heartburn, burping), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), diverticular disease, inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease) and peptic ulcer disease as it aids to augment production of mucus and, at the same time, safeguards the lining of the stomach. While irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is not accompanied by inflammation, turmeric possesses carminative properties it helps to provide relief from flatulence. Moreover, using turmeric also appeases intestinal spasm as well as pain, as it relaxes the sphincters and the intestinal muscles.

Aside from the above mentioned health benefits of curcumin, this biologically active polyphenolic compound has shown immense potential in the form of a natural antidepressant. It is worth mentioning here that curcumin has been found to be equally effective for treating depression as Prozac.

For millions of people who have been using various antidepressants without much success this comes as great news. It is also welcome news for people who have been using antidepressants and enduring their harsh side effects. It is believed that curcumin works by enhancing two important neurotransmitters that are related to depression - such as dopamine and serotonin.

In one study undertaken on three different groups of patients suffering from depression, people were given Prozac, curcumin or a combination of the two. It was found that people who were given curcumin supplements experienced the same relief as people who took Prozac. However, patients who were given Prozac and curcumin said that they experienced the maximum relief from depression.

Curcumin also helps to overcome depression by decreasing inflammation in the brain.

Now there is convincing evidence that depression is possibly among the several diseases that is caused by chronic inflammation.

In case you are suffering from depression, even a key depressive disorder, there is no harm in taking curcumin supplements. This is because curcumin does not have any side effects and is safe for everyone to use for indefinite period.

Moreover, different from several other therapeutic substances, you can safely combine curcumin with any antidepressant medication. In fact using a combination of curcumin and other antidepressant medications yields more effective results.

In addition, you can also use curcumin by combining this biologically active polyphenolic compound with any other natural remedy to treat depression. For instance, you can combine curcumin with SAM-e and St. John�s wort.

Since curcumin possesses potent antioxidant properties that cross the blood-brain barrier easily, it helps to shield the cells in our brain from the damages caused by detrimental free radicals. This natural substance also has the ability to enhance concentration and memory as it works to increase blood circulation to the brain. According to the findings of one study, intake of curcumin supplements helped in increasing blood circulation as in the case of undertaking any physical exercise.

It is remarkable that findings of another study showed that taking a single dose of curcumin helped to appreciably improve attention as well as working memory in healthy senior persons just in an hour.

Latest studies have shown that curcumin possesses the ability to enhance the bioavailability of DHA (docosahexenoic acid), which is an essential omega-3 fatty acid that forms the basic building block of our brain.

Any deficiency of DHA affects our mental health and is also responsible for neurological disorders such as anxiety and depression. Curcumin is effective in promoting DHA synthesis and, at the same time it improves its concentration in the brain.

Findings of a study carried in the Journal of Clinical Immunology offers us a definition of how curcumin works as a strong immunomodulatory agent that has the ability to enhance the body's response to antibody. The researchers concluded that curcumin has the potential to be a treatment alternative for immune disorders. In fact, curcumin is said to be an excellent source of various vitamins and essential minerals. Curcumin encloses vitamin B6, which aids in encouraging co-enzyme activities. In this way, it helps to shield our immune system and also produces additional positive effects on various things such as hormones, skin conditions, metabolism and PMS.

It has been established that curcumin also possesses antimicrobial properties. Findings of many studies have shown that use of curcumin has successfully slowed down the growth of bacteria that produces histamines, for instance Bacillus cereus and Proteus mirabilis. In addition, the studies found that curcumin was effective in containing the growth of a pathogen borne by foods and known as V. parahaemolyticus.