Curcumin Shows Antiaging Potential in New Studies
If you like curried food, then you may be fighting aging while you eat. Two new studies suggest that curcumin, the ingredient in turmeric that gives this spice popular in curried dishes its kick, has antiaging properties.
How can curcumin help fight aging?
Interest in turmeric (Curcuma longa) and curcumin has been hot and growing over the past few years, since this spice has been associated with benefiting Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, arthritis, cancer, and heart disease. But can curcumin help fight the ultimate battle: aging?
A new study from the University of Colorado revealed that curcumin improved the vascular health of aging lab animals by reducing arterial stiffness, oxidative stress, endothelial dysfunction, and increases in the protein collagen.
Endothelial function is critical for aging because cells of the endothelium, which lines the blood vessels and heart, release substances that control vascular health, blood clotting, and immune function. Oxidative stress is a major player in aging, as is arterial stiffness.
The study’s authors concluded that their findings “provide new first evidence that dietary curcumin supplementation ameliorates two chemically important markers of arterial dysfunction with aging: major elastic arterial stiffness and endothelial dysfunction.” They felt their results justify exploring how curcumin might help antiaging efforts in humans.
An improvement in blood vessel health is not the only advantage of taking curcumin. A second study found that female lab rats given curcumin daily for seven days performed better on a maze (demonstrating good cognitive function) when compared with rats given placebo.
The investigators also gathered physical proof that curcumin had a positive impact on aging as seen in MDA (malondialdehyde) and glutathione levels. MDA is a substance used to identify oxidative stress, while glutathione is considered a master antioxidant, necessary for fighting every assault on the body.
This scientific team concluded that “curcumin may be a novel therapy for treating arterial aging in humans.” Therefore, these two new studies shine a positive light on the potential for curcumin to assist in antiaging efforts.
Other benefits of curcumin
Here’s a brief look at some of the other health benefits attributed to and being explored regarding curcumin.
- Rheumatoid arthritis. Several studies have shown that curcumin is effective in relieving symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Curcumin has even demonstrated an ability to provide equal or more relief than diclofenac, a drug often used to treat the disease.
- Diabetes: In a recent study of individuals with prediabetes, those who took curcumin were less likely to go on to develop diabetes than those who took a placebo. The researchers noted that curcumin may improve the function of beta cells, which are the cells in the pancreas that release insulin, and that curcumin’s anti-inflammatory abilities may protect beta cells.
- Inflammatory conditions: Research shows curcumin has been effective in relieving inflammation and pain associated with conditions such as tendinitis and similar inflammatory problems.
- Fatty liver disease: Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease affects up to 20 percent of adults, and the condition can lead to more serious liver problems and even death. Research suggests curcumin may help prevent and treat fatty liver disease by affecting a hormone called leptin, which is involved in fat metabolism.
- Osteoarthritis in dogs: People are not the only ones who can benefit from curcumin. Veterinary studies show that dogs treated with curcumin have experienced an improvement in symptoms of osteoarthritis.
The quest to find effective, safe ways to fight aging is leading researchers on many paths of discovery. Curcumin has shown antiaging potential, as well as other health benefits, and will continue to be a topic of investigation.
Belviranli M et al. Curcumin improves spatial memory and decreases oxidative damage in aged female rats. Biogerontology 2013 Apr; 14(2): 187-96
Chuengsamarn S et al. Curcumin extract for prevention of type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care 2012; published online before print: doi:10.2337/dc12-0116
Colitti M et al. Transciptome modification of white blood cells after dietary administration of curcumin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug in osteoarthritis affected dogs. Veterinary Immunology and Immunopathology 2012 Jun 30; 147(3-4): 136-46
Fleenor BS et al. Curcumin ameliorates arterial dysfunction and oxidative stress with aging. Experimental Gerontology 2013 Feb; 48(2): 269-76
Updated July 25, 2014