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Curcuma longa L. ( Curcuma longa L.)

Curcuma longa (Curcuma longa)
Curcuma longa ( Curcuma longa )

The turmeric belongs to the Zingiberacae family and the ginger recalls both appearance and healing. Like a ginger, it is a sturdy herb of up to 1m in height, which has a dragon-like ginger under the ground, but a different color and taste. The color of the curcuma rhizome is much more intense than the ginger to the orange. The flavor is less burning and more bitter. Like other ginger, turkey is a beautiful decorative tropical plant, which can be grown with a little patience as a houseplant ( cultivation instructions ).

Turmeric is one of the traditional means of Ayurveda and TČM used mainly as a means of inflammation and diabetes. Nowadays, more attention is also paid to the anticancer properties of turmeric.

Turmeric ingredients

The turmeric contains about 6% of the essential oil and about 5% of the curcuminoids. The most important kurkuminoid is kurkumin . We do not have to be so interested in chemistry that kurkumin ranks between polyphenols and terpenoids. It is enough to look at the molecule: due to its double bonds it is conductive from the viewpoint and the electric charge in it easily oscillates from one phenolic circle to the other. The phenolic rings behave like the condenser plates and the whole molecule of curcumin as a resonator at the frequency of visible light. This is the intense yellow color of turmeric.

Thanks to its conductivity, curcumin is a very powerful antioxidant . The oxygen atoms protruding from the conductive skeleton simply reduce the oxidized compounds and inactivate the free radicals. When measuring the anti-oxidant force of curcumin, it was found that curcumin at a concentration of 15μg / ml of 97% inhibited the lipid peroxidation of the linoleic acid emulsion ( Ak2008ars ), a very strong antioxidant effect. Besides curcuminoids, turmeric contains volatile terpenoids, of which the most important is α- turmeron, β-turmeron and zingiberen.

α- turmeron

Efficacy of turmeric

root of curcuma

It is absolutely safe to say that turmeric belongs to our diet and its use is healthy . When we cook soup, we put the vegetable soup into it not only to get the ingredients in the vegetables but also to protect the antioxidants (especially vitamin C) in the vegetables contained by the other ingredients from the oxidation degradation. While vitamin C works mainly in the water phase, curcumin from turmeric protects mainly fats. This is not the taste and not even the color of the turmeric but its antioxidant effect. Much greater uncertainty was, however, surrounded by the curcumin systemic effect.

Kurkumin - a simple substance with complex pharmacodynamics

Curcuma is an excellent example of a plant where one can save a lot of effort and doubts when he believes in traditional medicine systems (TČM and Ayurveda) and will not seek scientific proof of its effectiveness. According to TČM and Ajurvéda, kurkuma is clearly healing, while understanding and confirming its healing is scientifically extremely difficult for experts. Frankly speaking, I am not pleased with this fact. I do not like the advantage of blind believers, I feel some inner dissatisfaction with the fact that we scientists are in turmeric only to finally say "Yes, TCM and Ayurveda were right." But when we have to acknowledge this, the turmeric case can be used as an example of how hard it is to explain scientifically several obvious phenomena in the realm of herbs. Curcuma is actually very simple. She has only one active substance - curcumin. More specifically, turmeron, zingiberen and other turmeric compounds also have certain effects (see, for example, Chen2017ata ), but curcumin is by far the most important. So let's look at how a single fabric can be a scientist for years, while Chinese-Indian charlatans have a quiet sleep and, moreover, the truth.

Traditional medical systems - TČM and Ajurvéda - attribute to turmeric an effect against inflammation and pain , especially joint pain and rheumatoid arthritis , as well as menstrual problems, digestive problems and external skin diseases . One of the good scientific articles describing these properties not only in curcuma but also in ginger is Lakhan2015zep . These attributes attributed science to curcumin. It has been shown that curcumin has extensive anti-inflammatory and anticancer activity in the human body ( Sharma2007ppc ). Today's publications include Tejada2016whe , according to which curcumin improves wound healing , the Panahi2017aec clinical trial, in which curcumin improves the metabolic health of diabetics, and a review of Basnet2011cam on the preventive action of kurcumin against cancer. But even older versions of the mid-20th century knew this about kurkumina.

root of curcuma

At first glance, the scientists were all seated. But only until it has come to the conclusion that, contrary to expectations, turkey from the digestive tract does not absorb into the bloodstream, it absorbs very little. Scientists have already learned in the 1980s that kurkumin is not absorbed too much from the intestine to explain the traditional turmeric indications. The stacks of available publications about the positive effect of curcumin suddenly seemed overly optimistic. The question arises as to how turmeric works at all? In the 1980s and 1990s, scientists offered several explanations:

  1. Kurkumin penetrates into the body in much greater quantity than was thought.
  2. Curcumin works in the body at much lower concentrations than was thought.
  3. Turmeric activity is sufficient for the curative action of the turmeric in the digestive tract.
  4. The turmeron, zingiberen and others are more easily absorbed by curcuma.
  5. Curcuma is far less effective than the TUM and Ayurveda.

Each of these possible explanations had its supporters and publications that supported it. Thus, for example, the possibility of 3 encouraged publications documenting the positive effect of curcumin in patients with various digestive disorders , as confirmed by the Thamlikitkul1989rdb study. The World Health Organization (WHO), in its opinion on curcumin, has fallen into a position that it is systemically ineffective because it does not absorb and heals only in the digestive tract.

But the fact that turkey does not absorb is inherently chemically odd. The protruding curcumin molecule is a bit polar but still quite small, so as a serpent can sneak through the lipid membrane into the intestinal cells and from there into the bloodstream. Why is it not absorbed? After a long study, it has come to the conclusion that curcumin actually absorbs but faces the dual kind of active defense of our body from poisons. The first defense is a specific carrier called BCRP (Breast Cancer Resistance Protein), which pumps the curcumin back into the intestine. This protein protects us from various poisons and people who do not get it right often - as the name suggests - catching breast cancer . The discovery of BCRP was one of the triumphs of contemporary bioinformatics. The second defense against curcumin is the activity of hepatic cells that evaluate the curcumin as a suspect, branding it with the glucuronic acid residue (which is a modified glucose) and pumping it into the intestine as glucuronate. The fixed polar residue prevents recursion of curcumin into the blood and furthermore informs the intestinal cells that the labeled molecule is to remain unabsorbed. Our liver cells do not hesitate to sacrifice one whole molecule of glucose per molecule of curcumin, just to make sure kurkumin stays outside. They are not just enough to differentiate curcumin from chemically similar poisons.


Does that mean that curcumin always remains out of the bloodstream and is therefore ineffective? After an even longer study, it turned out that not. In our digestive tract, there are two situations in which curcumin is still absorbed into circulation. The first one occurs when a slimy layer is broken on the surface of our digestive mucosa. Our digestive surface is enormous and, as soon as the protective slime is disturbed for some reason (eg, intestinal disease or a specific type of food that interferes with the slime layer), the serum turkey molecule begins to penetrate into the bloodstream in such an amount that BCRP or the liver it is not enough to pump out. The second case when kurkumin is able to reach the healing concentration is when we add pepper to the meal except turmeric. Pepper contains piperine, which not only gives it a peppery taste, but primarily inhibits the transport of turmeric in the intestine as glucuronate.

When we eat turmeric every day , as the Indians normally do, it will happen to us that, thanks to pepper or other circumstances, cucumine medicine will only get into the bloodstream. So, in the end, TU and Ajurvéd have the truth about the benefits of curcuma. Now, let me just tell you that I have simplified this story a little bit, and when you want to know how it is, you can read the "Physiological barriers to the oral delivery of curcumin" 2012 ( Berginc2012pbo ). So if you're interested in practicing the curative effects of curcumin (listed in the recent Kunnumakkara2017cgn review), add a little pepper to the meal.

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