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Turmeric (Curcumin) Dos and Don’ts With Dr. Kim

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Turmeric is a fabulous spice, most well-known for its anti-inflammatory powers; its antioxidant effects benefit all of the body, including the brain. While it fights seemingly everything from arthritis to atherosclerosis to Alzheimer’s and more, it also boosts brain-derived neurotrophic factor, looks after your cardiovascular health, holds back diabetes, reduces the risk of cancer, fights depression, slows aging, and basically does everything short of making you sing well too.

Dr. Leonid Kim goes over the scientific evidence for these, and also talks about some of the practicalities of taking turmeric, and safety considerations.

For the most part, turmeric is very safe even at high doses (up to 8g at least); indeed, at smaller doses (e.g. 500mg) it largely does the same job as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen, with fewer problems.

It also does the job of several antidiabetic medications, by increasing uptake of glucose (thus reducing blood sugar levels) while simultaneously decreasing the glucose secretion from the liver. It does this by regulating the AMPK signalling pathway, just like metformin—while again, being safer.

Dr. Kim also looks at the (good!) evidence for turmeric in managing PCOS and undoing NAFLD; so far, so good.

Dosage: he bids us pay attention whether we’re taking it as turmeric itself or as curcumin standardized extract. The latter is the active compound, and in principle more powerful, but in practice it can get metabolized too quickly and easily—before it can have its desired effect. So, turmeric itself is a very good choice.

Absorption: since we do want it to be absorbed well, though, he does recommend taking it with piperine (as in black pepper).

You may be thinking: isn’t this going to cause the same problem you were just talking about, and cause it to be metabolized too quickly? And the answer is: no! How piperine works is almost the opposite; it protects the curcumin in the turmeric from our digestive enzymes, and thus allows them to get absorbed without being broken down too quickly—thus increasing the bioavailability by slowing the process down.

Lipophilia: no, that’s not a disease (or a fetish), rather it means that curcumin is soluble in fats, so we should take it near in time to a meal that contains at least a tablespoon of oil in total (so if you’re cooking a curry with your turmeric, this need is covered already, for example).

Supplement provenance: he recommends picking a supplement that’s been tested by a reputable 3rd party, as otherwise turmeric can be quite prone to impurities (which can include lead and arsenic, so, not great).

Contraindications: for some people, curcumin can cause gastrointestinal issues (less likely if taking with meals), and also, it can interact with blood-thinners. While taking aspirin or curcumin alone might help avoid circulatory problems, taking both could increase the bleeding risk for some people, for example. Similarly, if taking curcumin and metformin while diabetic, one must watch out for the combination being too effective at lowering blood sugar levels, and thus causing hypoglycemia instead. Similar deal with blood pressure medications.

There’s more in the video though (yes really; we know we wrote a lot but it’s information-dense), so do check it out:

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Want to know more?

You can also check out our related articles:

Why Curcumin (Turmeric) Is Worth Its Weight In Gold
Black Pepper’s Impressive Anti-Cancer Arsenal (And More)

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