Curcumin: Why it is the spiciest topic these days

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Curcumin is a phytochemical (also known as phytonutrient) which is present in turmeric, a plant that is a member of the ginger family, originated in Southeast Asia and commonly used in curry. The word “phytochemical” is an umbrella term (meaning chemicals from plants) that encompasses several classes or subcategories such as polyphenols and allyl sulfides (garlic, onion). The well-known classes of polyphenols are flavonoids and carotenoids; both of which can be broken down even further. Curcumin belongs to the polyphenol class known as curcuminoids, which improve cell communication to reduce inflammation.

Etymology (Word Origin)

It’s logical to assume that curcumin is present in cumin, which is also used in curry powder. Unfortunately, curcumin is not present in cumin. Cumin itself has several health benefits. I found the easiest method to distinguish between the two is by the definitions and etymologies of the words.

Curcumin. Noun; a yellow pigment, derived from the rhizome of Curcuma longa, and the main active ingredient of turmeric. It is an antioxidant and has anti-inflammatory properties.

Word Origin: coloring matter, 1850, from Curcuma, genus name for plants of the ginger family, from which the chemical was drawn, Medieval Latin, from Arabic kurkum “saffron, turmeric.” Cf. crocus.

Cumin. Noun; an umbelliferous Mediterranean plant, Cuminum cyminum, with finely divided leaves and small white or pink flowers. The aromatic seeds (collectively) of this plant, used as a condiment and a flavoring

Word Origin: Middle English comyn, cumin (< Old French comin) < Latin cumīnum < Greek kýmīnon < Semitic (compare Arabic kammūn, Hebrew kammōn cumin); replacing Old English cymen

Health Benefits of Curcumin

• Potent antioxidant
• Boosts immune system
• Bioactive nutrients essential for athletic dogs
• Strong anti-inflammatory properties
• Antimicrobial benefits
• Powerful ant-cancer properties – Curcumin is able to affect multiple pathways, including down-regulating pro-inflammatory cytokines, enzymes, growth factors and transcription factors that lead to carcinogenesis and tumor growth. (Transcription factors: proteins that control which genes are turned on or off in the genome. They do so by binding to DNA and other proteins. Once bound to DNA, these proteins can promote or block the enzyme that controls the reading, or “transcription,” of genes, making genes more or less active.)
• Antineoplastic (prevents or halts tumor development)
• Alters DNA methylation – Essential in the fight against, or regulation of, Type 1 Diabetes and cancer (DNA methylation: The process by which chemical tags, called methyl groups, are added to one of the four chemical bases that make up a DNA molecule, which directly affects the DNA in the genome. DNA methylation that is functioning improperly can work in such a way as to throw gene expression off balance, which can lead to a variety of serious health consequences, including numerous diseases.)
• Antiangiogenic properties (angiogenesis: the growth of new blood vessels)
• Decreases cell growth
• Decreases metastasis
• Induces cancer cell apoptosis (apoptosis: cells that are no longer needed or are a threat to the organism are destroyed by a tightly regulated cell suicide process known as programmed cell death, or apoptosis.)
• Inhibits cancer cell division and growth
• Inhibits enzymes that aid in the spread of cancer

Everything has a Warning Label

• May cause an upset stomach, flatulence and yellowing of the stool, so use caution if your dog suffers from a gastrointestinal disorder or nausea due to chemotherapy.
• Curcumin may also increase the risk of bleeding when given in combination with some medications such as NSAIDs, blood thinners and antiplatelet drugs or when given with certain foods such as botanicals, Gingko biloba, garlic and saw palmetto.
• If your dog is on chemotherapy, curcumin can decrease the effectiveness of certain chemotherapy drugs
• It is poorly absorbed across the GI tract and it is rapidly cleared from the blood. To overcome these hurdles, we advise giving your dog a high quality curcumin supplement in conjunction with a fatty food such as olive oil or fish oil, which can increase its absorption.

 

W. Jean Dodds, DVM
Hemopet / NutriScan
11561 Salinaz Avenue
Garden Grove, CA 92843

References
“Cumin.” Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com, n.d. Web. 14 June 2015. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/cumin

“Curcumin.” Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com, n.d. Web. 14 June 2015. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/curcumin

Dodds, Jean, DVM, and Diana Laverdure, MS. Canine Nutrigenomics: The New Science of Feeding Your Dog for Optimum Health. Wenatchee: Dogwise, 2015. Print.

“More Information on Complementary and Alternative Medicine.” More Information on Complementary and Alternative Medicine. American Cancer Society, n.d. Web. 14 June 2015. http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/complementaryandalternativemedicine/herbsvitaminsandminerals/phytochemicals

“Transcription Factor.” Broad Institute, n.d. Web. 14 June 2015.
https://www.broadinstitute.org/education/glossary/transcription-factor

“Understanding the Phytochemical Power of Turmeric.” NaturalNews. N.p., 4 Oct. 2013. Web. 14 June 2015. http://www.naturalnews.com/042335_turmeric_phytochemicals_vitamins.html#ixzz3YdDhhJAO

 

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