Should Curcumin be a Foundational Supplement?
The polyphenol curcumin from the spice turmeric has received an incredible amount of attention from scientists and practitioners—rightfully so! A 2017 review in the journal Foods concluded that there is a “plethora of research regarding the health benefits of curcumin.” Most of these benefits come from curcumin’s highly potent antioxidant activity, as well as its ability to support a healthy inflammatory response.*
The broad range of health-supporting effects of curcumin based on the scientific literature is profound. Researchers who published a 2013 review in the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists Journal concluded, “How a single agent can possess these diverse effects has been an enigma over the years, both for basic scientists and clinicians. However, numerous lines of evidence have indicated curcumin’s ability in human participants to modulate multiple cell signaling molecules…”*
Human anatomy identifies 11 systems within the human body. So far, the scientific literature indicates that curcumin has a positive impact on almost all of them:
Most recently, a study from UCLA researchers demonstrates that curcumin effectively supports mood and memory. This 2018 double-blind, placebo-controlled 18-month trial was published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. In this study, there was a decrease in amyloid and tau accumulation in the brain and an improvement in mood and memory.* This is not the first study to show these results.
While the majority of studies involving curcumin have focused on specific health concerns, there is research showing positive outcomes in healthy individuals as well. Most of those studies looked at exercise-induced stress, mental health, and safety.* The authors of the 2017 review in Foods conclude, “Curcumin has a long established safety record.”
There are many forms of curcumin—causing much debate among practitioners. But the research shows positive results using many different forms of curcumin extract and the bottom line is that curcumin supports general health in a wide variety of ways.* If the criteria to determine whether a supplement should be used on a daily basis is the number of body systems it positively impacts and its safety record, then curcumin should rise toward the top of the list of foundational supplements.
Cavaleri F. International Journal of Inflammation. 2018;2018.
Gupta SC, Patchva S, Aggarwal BB. The American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists Journal. 2013;15(1):195-218.
Hewlings SJ, Kalman DS. Foods. 2017;6(10):92.
Small GW, Siddarth P, Li Z, et al. The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. 2018;26(3):266-277.