Saturday, February 13, 2010

Turmeric, Curcumin...Alzheimer's & Migraine Pain Relief

Turmeric is one of my favorite supplements as an anti-inflammatory, pain reliever. It is a natural spice, has broad health benefits and is inexpensive as compared to drugs. It fights oxidative damage, relieves pain and chronic inflammation; it increases life expectancy. It is an excellent supplement for migraine headache pain.

The Journal of Health reports in vol.3 issue 7 some well researched comprehensive benefits to your health. Modern research validates its effectiveness, especially in the past 15 years. Numerous studies and the experience of populations like India that have high dietary intake confirm its benefits. East Indians have decreased Alzheimer’s, arthritis, and cardiovascular diseases. Here are most of the validated health benefits:

• Anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidative • An excellent pain killer, helping relieve migraines
• Resists DNA mutation
• Fight bacteria
• Fights viruses and fungi
• Helps balance cholesterol
• Fights Alzheimer’s disease • Chelates copper and iron
• Aids digestion
• Helps blood pressure and cardiovascular health

The overarching benefit is arguably that of reducing inflammation and free radical damage. The significance of this is that virtually all diseases have the issue of is central to disease.’

The unseen damage of chronic inflammation occurs at the cellular level in the form of free radical damage. Classic inflammation is experienced as swelling and pain in the body.

What is free radical damage? It is the oxidative effect that damages the cellular DNA and hence the genetic code of the cell. Damaged cells produce disease when they multiply. They make the cells sick so that they cannot function efficiently.

Free radical damage is no small thing in our western civilization. None of us escape from it, so it behooves us to combat it and eliminate it as much as possible. Turmeric is a great warrior on our behalf.

We are constantly exposed to unhealthy food, preservatives, trans fats and excesses of various foods like sugar and salt. These all become inflammatory agents; therefore anti-oxidants like the curcuminoids are a good weapon against them. The liver has to filter out the invaders and wastes, so anything that helps reduce these destructive elements helps liver health.

Another well known enemy of health is the micro organisms. These include bacteria, viruses and fungi. Curcuminoids excel here also. They bolster the health of cells. The individual defense cell is better strengthened to combat bacteria. In the case of viruses they replicate themselves using the resources of cellular DNA. Antibiotics are not effective against either viruses or most fungi, curcumins are.

Anything that disrupts your biochemistry makes you more susceptible to migraine headaches.

Because curcumins help keep the DNA or genetic code of the cell in a healthy state, they inhibit viral proliferation. In the case of fungi, the curcuminoids are shown in lab studies to inhibit aflatoxins. What are aflatoxins? They are toxic products of fungi that can harm the liver and always produce inflammation.

How about cholesterol balance? First of all it is a well researched and proven fact that cholesterol is necessary and important for health. It is needed for proper lipid balance and for the many cortical steroid hormones as well as vitamin D. It is the core molecule for them all. For free information and a comprehensive report on cholesterol go to:

Studies show that the HDL (high density lipids) cholesterol is very good and should be in high ratio to the LDL (low density lipids). Curcuminoids do this.

The International Journal of Vitamin Nutritional Research reports this in a small study of 10 people. A daily dose of 500 mg of curcumin was given and it produced a 29% increase of the good HDL and significantly reduced the level of LDL. LDL’s are associated with inflammation and increased risk of cardiovascular disease. While it is not the LDL itself that causes cardiovascular disease, it is the inflammation in the blood vessels that collects the LDL and oxidized LDL that causes the disease.

It is the inflamed blood vessels that attract the LDL which co-relates to increased heart attack and stroke. The LDL acts like a bandage that can chip off and cause a blockage or blood clot in a coronary or cerebral blood vessel.

Aside from helping cardiovascular health by keeping cholesterol healthy, curcumins lower blood pressure. They function by inhibiting PAF (platelet activating factor). The PAF reduces clotting tendencies. This decreases the incidence of heart attack and stroke.

The anti-inflammatory power of curcumins is believed to work in two ways. It is a free radical scavenger that is an anti-oxidant...directly reducing inflammation. Secondly it triggers the release of natural cortisone...probably the most powerful anti-inflammatory agent known.

Inflammation is a major cause of pain. Pain is the by product of Cox 2 enzymes that produce post glandins. Curcuminoids were studied at the famous Sloan-Kettering Cancer Research Center. Their research revealed that indeed that Cox 2 was effectively reduced by curcumins. Inflammation as well as pain was reduced.

What about Alzheimer’s? There is evidence that a poor ratio of HDL to LDL cholesterol increases the incidence of Alzheimer’s. (Twice as much...according to a long term study in Finland.) It is interesting that 10% of Americans over age 65 develop Alzheimer’s: whereas only 1% of India residents develop it.

Researcher Sally Frautschy from UCLA sums it up best. Her study concluded that the high lifetime intake of curry spices like turmeric was responsible for the reduction. I quote Sally: “We believe curcumin will do three important things: trigger clearance of amyloid (a plaque like substance strangling brain cells) already present; reverse oxidative damage contributing to memory loss (and) reduce toxic substances associated with chronic inflammation.” Reported in the Journal of Health and Longevity...vol. 3, issue 7.

Here is what Wikipedia, arguably an objective source of information, publishes: (I paraphrase). Curcumin works as an antioxidant and free radical scavenger. It reduces inflammation and some studies show effectiveness against amyloid plaque, which is the pathologic plaque of Alzheimer’s.

Researchers on Alzheimer’s found India has the lowest incidence of Alzheimer’s of anyone in the world, after age 65. They have an occurrence of 1% versus the population of the United States where the rate it 10%. Curcumin is believed to be the agent responsible for this low rate in India because of their high consumption of turmeric.

Curcuminoids have been shown to inhibit viruses such as a HIV and herpes simplex.
Curcuminoids work at the DNA level to inhibit the replication of viral components. In studies this is shown to reduce the incidence of cancer and other inflammatory (like arthritis) diseases.

In regards to how it works in Alzheimer’s, another plausible explanation offered by the famous Linus Pauling Institute is that of chelation. Curcuminoids are shown to reduce copper and iron, two heavy metals found in excess in the brains of Alzheimer victims. Heavy metal accumulation is strongly linked to increased Alzheimer’s.

I can personally attest to the effectiveness of turmeric (curcumin) in pain relief. For me it is as effective as aspirin and at least one scientific study substantiates this. Bulk spice sources such as health food stores usually have turmeric at the best price. For more free information on migraines go to:

Perhaps you are wondering if this spice is a problem for people with stomach distress. Dr. David Juan, M.D. (the vitamin doctor) answers this question for us. In a study he followed, here are the results.

A group of 106 patients with stomach distress were given 500 mg of curcumin. Examination of the subjects found a 87% improvement with full or partial relief. The placebo comparison group also had significant resolution with the curcumin...they had a 53% improvement. This still meant that there was a 34% improvement over those who did not get the curcumin...Denis Van Loan D.D.S.


  1. If you're diagnosed with severe migraine, one thing that might have caused it is due to lack of sleep. Our body releases a chemical called Seratonin which rely on the amount of sleep. Insufficient Seratonin is the main cause why migraine attacks.

  2. Pain is an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage, or described in terms of such damage. Everybody suffers from pain to varying degrees.
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  3. Hi,

    I loved your article.

    I have migraine headaches and I want to give turmeric a try. I find many recipes online, one is that tells you to put a pinch of turmeric and a TBSP! pepper powder into a cup of milk and boil. Now I think a tbsp might be a mistake, because that's undrinkable. What do you think? Any recommendation for turmeric recipes? I don't really eat food with this spice, so I'd prefer a quick drink recipe to enjoy all its benefits.

    To Dr Nicholas E (June 1, 2010 10:24 PM)

    Lack of sleep is just one of 1000 other possible triggers. My migraine is mostly hormonal and it's also triggered by OVERsleeping. Another trigger was caffeine, but I eliminated this from my diet. Most people I know with migraine, plenty of sleep is never the solution.
    And, according to many different sources I read, sleeping is not what makes serotonin as you claim, although I know it has much to do with migraine. This neurotransmitter is released by tryptophan found in some foods. And then, serotonin helps with our sleep pattern and a number of other functions.

    Mr Van Loan, you have some other very interesting topics on migraine. I see that your last entry was a while ago. Have you stopped writing this blog?

    1. I would like to try turmeric for my severe migraines. How did you actually take the turmeric? As a tea, capsules, etc. I bought organic turmeric powder but can find out how to use it to treat a migraine.

  4. Migraine is mostly triggered by a sedentary lifestyle and mostly by an imbalanced nutrient. Carrot, cucumber and beetroot juice along with honey could give you some relief.

    Migraine Home Remedies

    1. Sedentary lifestyle? Sorry, nope. I still expereinced violent attacks when I was a high performing athlete, and dancer with a good, clean diet. How about hormonal? I also get them around a full moon closer to sea level, but not when at higher altitudes. Stress, depression, PMS, dehydration, too much of one kind of food, lack of sleep, too much sleep. TOO many triggers to list and all of them different for everyone who suffers. Kinda hard to drink carrot, beet and honey when you're throwing up or dry heaving 12 hours straight. :/

  5. Turmeric does work wonders for menstrual cramps. I have never tried it for headaches though.

  6. I completely agree with the many benefits of curcumin/turmeric. Especially for headaches (hangover/migraine), pms, and any type of pain associated with exercise or post surgery pain or trauma. Equally important as looking for Turmeric/curcumin is to find a good and bioavailable source. The product I recently researched and found to be the most effective is to look for supplements with Meriva Phytosome, a proprietary capsule coating that increases curcuminoid absorption by 29 times. A great and reliable supplier is here:
    FULL DISCLOSURE I work with the company healthiest that sells this curcumin product. That is also how a I know that MD's, holistic practitioners and scientific research has fully vetted this brand and the active ingredients in this product (that I personally use regularly).
    Best wishes to all for vibrant health.
    Drew C.

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  9. Can anyone tell me how to actually take the turmeric for migraines? Tea, capsules, etc.

    1. I would try a commercial product such as Theracumin or Curamin since using turmeric powder itself contains curcumin, but you would need to take quite a bit (and with black pepper to enhance its absorption) to use medicinally. From what others have posted, try the recommended dosage on the label but increase if not effective. Also, it depends on the cause of your migraines - this may or may not help but is worth a try. Please post again if you find something that works and let us know what you did. Thanks.

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