“Turmeric or Curcumin:
Plants vs. Pills” Supplement manufacturers often
fall into the same reductionist trap as the drug companies. Herbs are assumed to only have
one main active ingredient, and so if you can isolate
it and purify it into a pill, the thinking goes, you
can boost the effects. Curcumin is described as the
active ingredient in turmeric, but is it the active ingredient
or just an active ingredient? It’s just one of many
different components of the whole food spice. There’s also cyclocurcumin
and curcumenes, and turmerine, turmerone,
tumeronol. Only limited studies have compared
the potential of turmeric with curcumin, but some suggest
turmeric, the whole food, may work even better, and not
just against colon cancer cells. This group of researchers at
Anderson Cancer Center in Texas pitted curcumin against
seven different types of human cancer cells in vitro.
And also turmeric. For example, curcumin kicks
butt against breast cancer cells, but turmeric, the whole
food, kicks even more butt. Curcumin against
pancreatic cancer; turmeric against
pancreatic cancer, colon cancer,
multiple myeloma, myelogenous leukemia,
and more colorectal cancer. They found that turmeric was more
potent compared to curcumin, suggesting that components
other than curcumin can also contribute to
anti-cancer activities. Most clinical studies treating
diseases in people have used curcumin supplements
as opposed to whole turmeric, but none have tried using turmeric
components other than curcumin. But see, even curcumin-free
turmeric exhibits anti-inflammatory and
anticancer activities. Although curcumin is
believed to account for most activities of turmeric,
research over the past decades has indicated that curcumin-free
turmeric — so turmeric with the so-called active ingredient
removed — is as effective or even more effective than
curcumin-containing turmeric. There are turmerones,
for example, in turmeric but processed out to make
curcumin supplements, which may exhibit
both anticancer as well as anti-inflammatory
activities. So I assumed this review
would conclude, let’s stop giving people
curcumin supplements, and just give people the whole
food spice turmeric, but instead they were like, hey, let’s make all sorts of different
turmeric-derived supplements!