Treasuring Turmeric: The Benefits of Curcumin and the Ingredient Meriva®
If you asked integrative practitioners what is their favorite botanical, the majority of them would say turmeric. Why? Because nearly every patient can benefit from inflammation modulation. The benefits of curcumin are vast and the research continues to pour out on new and diverse clinical applications. It is a powerful antioxidant and regulator of the inflammatory response. Whether you are looking to downregulate excess cytokines, kinases and growth factors or to upregulate specific transcription factors, curcumin has been shown to exhibit many diverse beneficial biochemical influences.
I love going to integrative medical conferences, spending a few days with my peeps and hearing the latest research and clinical pearls. True to form, many of us have pill boxes or baggies with our ‘never-travel-without-them’ supplements. Odds are high that many of these boxes and baggies will have beautiful bright orange pills of curcumin. Whether in a gelatin capsule, softgel or veggie capsule, the orange pigment is a tell-tale sign. Mood support, cardiovascular health, bone and joint health, blood sugar regulation, gastrointestinal wellness, antimicrobial support and complementary oncology benefits are just some of many ways curcumin helps our patients. ,,,,
Since we know that it is basically easier to think of curcumin in terms of helping maintain balanced inflammatory action in virtually any and all body systems, how do we choose among the many options available? Absorption rates are the keys to making that decision. Meriva® is a patented formulation of combining curcumin with soy lecithin (non-GMO soy) creating a phytosome, to shuttle the beneficial constituents found in curcumin across your cell membranes and into your blood stream. It is shown to have a 5-20 fold increase in systemic levels., Meriva® is not exclusive to one supplement company but rather it is available to all manufacturers and it is used by many professional brands as a single herb extract and in combination formulas.
I want to point out the one caveat in which I would NOT use Meriva® and instead go with an unformulated curcumin: when the gastrointestinal tract is primary focus of treatment. Take a moment to think about this and it will make sense. If we are working with a patient who has temporary inflammation in their gut, we want the curcumin to hang around in the GI tract rather than being super-absorbed and moved throughout the body. The same research that found higher plasma levels in the Meriva® group versus the plain curcumin group also found lower concentrations in the gastrointestinal mucosa. In these cases, it is more beneficial to use a plain curcumin product rather than one with enhanced absorption.
Fortunately, we offer a variety of professional-grade curcumin and Meriva® products by many of your favorite brands, to meet all of your patient’s needs.
Dr. Tina Beaudoin, N.D.
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*Meriva® is a registered trademark of Indena S.p.A., Milan.