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Curry (curcumin) as neuroprotective for dopamine neurons!


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#1 carruthers209

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Posted 29 January 2011 - 03:04 PM

Thank you so much for your previous explanations about alpha-synuclein toxicity to dopamine neurons and your explanation about current research using curcumin as a dietary supplement. It was so helpful as I went through the many internet postings and websites about possible benefits of this amazing spice. I had no idea it has such an array of potential disease preventing aspects. I was especially interested in cancer prevention issues since so many cancers are painless and symptomless until it is late stage and lethal at that point. So I am planning to add myself to my husband's new curcumin dietary supplement!

Curcumin is probably as close to the Holy Grail for Parkinson's disease that I can find in the research. So of course it has many conflicting research reports and answers are out there but I'm still confused. I want to buy a dietary supplement and add it to our diet daily as a softgel. There's research out there that discusses "micro" particles as being more absorbent. What do you think?

Does putting curcumin in oil help the insoluble factor of the spice? I don't really care for the taste and need to bury the flavor somehow. I've noticed that putting it in chili or tomato sauce makes it less noticeable. Do you have some yummy recipes that could help? Do one of your cookbooks have these great recipes? Thank you!

#2 Kathrynne Holden, MS

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Posted 31 January 2011 - 06:11 PM

Dear Friend,
First, I want to be certain we’re both talking about the same substance. “Curry powder” is a mixture of ground spices, one of which is turmeric.

Turmeric has been used in Asian medicine for centuries for its many healing powers.

Modern science has learned that turmeric contains an active component called curcumin which appears to be the reason why turmeric is so effective.

I am not an expert in Ayurvedic medicine by any means, but I understand that it is advised to use turmeric only if it is first heated or cooked. That may affect the absorption of the curcumin, but I can’t say that from my own knowledge.

Curcumin has definitely taken off in terms of present research; it is being intensively studied for a wide array of diseases, including PD. However, I would like to point out that all the studies I am aware of with regard to PD have been of isolated cells or of animals – none with humans. Thus, it isn’t possible to say just what form of curcumin is best utilized in humans.

In fact, we have often learned in the past that it can sometimes be a mistake to isolate the active portion of a food or nutrient. In some cases, the compound is made up of many ingredients that support the active ingredient, and without them, it loses its value.

I say this because I am not certain in my own mind that isolated curcumin is the best form to use. It may well be, and if so, there are a number of products that are thought to be well absorbed. But it would not surprise me if, 5 or 10 years down the road, we learn that although it is absorbed, it is not properly utilized outside of its base in turmeric.

Having said that, several colleagues recommend:

- Thorne Research's "Meriva " ( Curcumin Phytosome ). Thorne has teamed with Indena S.p.a.A. Phytosomes are created by a patented process that binds an herbal extract to phosphatidylcholine, a principal element of cell membranes. This unique phytosome complex easily crosses gut barrier, unlike common herbal extracts, & results in significantly higher blood levels than standardized 95% curcumin extract.

- Curcugel is in the liposomal form which is considered a highly bioavailable and preferred form.

I do not have personal knowledge of either of these products and can’t make recommendations.

With regard to turmeric, yes, “Cook Well” uses turmeric in a number of recipes, and you might check with your local public library or PD support group to see if they have a lending copy. I do cook with it, almost every day. I start by sauteeing it in a little oil, then adding whatever other ingredients go into the dish. For rice, I start with a tablespoon of oil, add ½ to 1 teaspoon of turmeric, saute 1 minute, then stir in the rice and cook till coated and lightly toasted, add water, and cook as usual. For soups, the same – saute some onions with the turmeric, add remaining ingredients and proceed as usual.

Here are a couple of recipes that might give you some ideas on using turmeric in cooking:


Shrimp-and-Vegetable Chowder
Servings: 6

Try frozen raw prepared shrimp; chop them 1/4" if chewing is a problem. If you use levodopa, and the protein in cow’s milk blocks absorption, try soy milk instead (it will not be as rich, however).

3 tablespoons olive oil
8 ounces medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 onion, chopped
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
1 pound winter squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 pound green cabbage (about 1/2 a small head), chopped
1 pound red potatoes, cut in 1-inch cubes
2 cups frozen corn kernels or 1 (15 ounce) can corn
2 quarts water
1 cup evaporated skim milk
1 cup frozen peas (optional)

1. In a large pot, heat the oil over moderate heat. Add the shrimp and cook, stirring, until the shrimp are pink and firm, about 3-5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
2. Add the onion, cayenne, paprika, turmeric, and salt to pot. Cook, stirring, until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add squash, cabbage, potatoes, corn, and water; cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, partly covered, until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.
3. Add milk and simmer 10 minutes. Stir in shrimp and peas. Cook until the shrimp and peas are just heated through, about 2-3 minutes.

Nutrition information per serving: 309 calories, 54 g carbohydrates, 19 g protein, 4 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 75 mg cholesterol, 332 mg sodium, 8 g fiber. Good source of vit. B2, calcium, magnesium, zinc.

-----------------------------------

Quinoa Pilaf
Servings: 6

Quinoa is an old “new” grain. It was a staple food of the Incas, thousands of years ago. It contains a unique balance of complex carbohydrates, nutrients, and a high-quality protein. It also cooks quickly, a bonus!

1 cup quinoa
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup minced onion
1/2 cup diced bell pepper
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 (14 ounce) can low sodium chicken broth, heated
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup pine nuts
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

1. Rinse quinoa under running cold water and drain well.
2. In a 2-quart saucepan over moderate heat, cook the onion and bell pepper in the oil until softened, about 4-6 minutes. Add the garlic and turmeric and cook, stirring, 1 minute more. Add the broth and salt, bring the liquid to a boil and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Remove pan from heat and let stand, covered, 5 minutes.
3. Meantime, in small skillet, over medium-low heat, cook and stir pine nuts until lightly browned. Remove from heat.
4. Fluff quinoa with a fork and spoon into serving dish. Garnish with pine nuts and parsley.

Nutrition information per serving: 196 calories, 24 g carbohydrates, 7 g protein, 9 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 116 mg sodium, 3 g fiber. Good source of vits. B1, B2, C, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, chromium.


Let me know if you have other questions, I will do my best to help.
Best regards,

Kathrynne Holden, MS

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#3 carruthers209

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Posted 01 February 2011 - 08:26 PM

Thanks for the clarification on curry, tumeric, and curcumin. I didn't realize curry was such a conglomeration of different spices, a lot of which aren't tumeric. Good thing you pointed that out to me. Who knows how much curry we might have eaten otherwise-ha-ha. I do have a small jar of tumeric in my cupboard which I will certainly focus on instead of the curry powder. We have several Indian markets in the city where I live and I think I'll pay them a visit and see what sort of tumeric products they carry. I did try cooking turmeric in onions and oil this morning for my scrambled egg taco and the taste was hardly noticeable. I enjoyed it. Cooking it in oil and onions seems to really improve the flavor, well actually dampening down the flavor so it's more palatable. I'm anxious to try your rice recipe since I love rice. I'll let you know how it comes all comes out! Thank you again and I'm not done reading and sifting through all your really valuable information about my questions. I appreciate your taking the time to clarify these issues for me (and your other readers).

#4 Kathrynne Holden, MS

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Posted 02 February 2011 - 01:24 PM

Dear Friend,
Indian markets often sell turmeric in bags of 4-8 ounces, and it’s not expensive. I’m contemplating trying to grow my own, though, just to have handy. I am certain that if you keep experimenting, you’ll find many ways to use it in cooking. I cook it into minestrone, black bean chili, various sauces for vegetables, grains, and fish. Let us know your progress!
Best regards,

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#5 carruthers209

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Posted 14 February 2011 - 03:38 PM

I've been trying out various combinations of tumeric in some of my more favorite recipes. I've noticed it does have a distinct after taste that is a bit bitter. I tried the rice recipe and there was no bitterness so I conjecture that lessening the amount of tumeric lessens the after taste (but lowers the tumeric quantity). The rice was very tasty and it had a great golden color (I used brown rice to up the health factor). My best combination was to combine the turmeric with sage and it imparted a wonderful deliciousness to the various dishes. It was a tasty surprise. I haven't tried your other two recipes yet-have to get all the ingredients. I see there are many spices in combination with the tumeric. Which, in your opinion, are the best to dampen down the after taste??

#6 Kathrynne Holden, MS

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Posted 15 February 2011 - 06:37 PM

Tomatoes are marvelous. When I make minestrone, I saute the onion, garlic, etc. in some olive oil, stirring in some turmeric. Then, I add in the carrot, zucchini, etc., then the tomatoes, beans, pasta and so forth. I can't tell the turmeric is even there at all, so I've increased the amount I use to about 1 1/2 teaspoons.

However, I also put a dab in frittatas -- cook some onion, stir turmeric into the eggs, pour eggs into skillet, add whatever toppings and likely some cheese, broil, and I'm not aware of any turmeric.

I would say, experiment, using just 1/4 teaspoon, in your favorite soups, casseroles, and other dishes. You should soon find out which dishes suit your tastes best. Oh, and let us all know what works, we may like to try it too!
Best regards,

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#7 carruthers209

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Posted 17 February 2011 - 01:53 PM

The research on curcumin studies is breaking almost daily. The latest one was that a curcumin formulation is seen as repairing stroke damage within the first few hours of occurrence! It looks like the researchers at Cedars-Sinai found a chemical formulation using curcumin that crosses the blood brain barrier after it is ingested. Additionally the articles talks about the compound being used by other researcher who find it is effective in Alzheimer's and traumatic brain injury. I will assume this is all on animal research, not human. Further googling pulled up some websites from Down's Syndrome sites that discuss curcumin. It seems that Down's Syndrome is considered to be early Alzheimer's by the parents of these children afflicted by this sad and terrible disease. There seems to be great excitement in that community over curcumin also. There is a very well known researcher from UCLA who has produced a curcumin compound which is ingested and has crossed the human blood brain barrier according to their research. They partnered with a company called Verdure Sciences which produces this compound Longvida curcumin. Their literature has charts which show Longvida curcumin crossing the blood brain barrier in humans. At least that's what I think I read. So-did I read these articles correctly? I would appreciate your critiquing what I wrote because I'm not sure I understood them. Thank you!

#8 Kathrynne Holden, MS

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Posted 18 February 2011 - 06:52 PM

Dear Friend,
You are doing good work, carefully researching your topic, and asking intelligent questions. I have viewed the Longvida site, and it does contain interesting and hopeful information.

However, I’m not ready to espouse purchase and use of Longvida curcumin. Here are some comments:

1) From the site: “Longvida® took years to develop and perfect, and is now being used in several ongoing clinical trials.”

This is a good sign, but does not say that Longvida actually is effective for anything at all. Many, many clinical trials come up with no positive results.

2) “What is Longvida® good for? Curcumin has been studied for various health applications, including the promotion of longevity and cognitive health. As of January 2010, more than 3100 publications on curcumin were available through the NIH medical database and in ongoing human trials. Many have reported that Longvida® may help promote joint health and flexibility, and help to modulate inflammatory responses already within the normal range. Curcumin is also a potent antioxidant and is used in skin products as an anti-microbial and healing agent. Universities and medical centers are looking at Longvida® for a variety of areas that curcumin has shown beneficial effects.”

Again, this tells us nothing definitive. Indeed curcumin has been studied, and many of the studies are positive and hopeful. But that is not the same as proof that Longvida is effective. Yes, curcumin is a potent antioxidant, but that does not prove that Longvida is a good product.

- “How is it different from other ‘bioavailable’ turmeric extracts? Longvida® is unique because it is university-developed, researched in humans, and has shown great promise in several studies. Longvida is made using expensive, top-quality ingredients including natural high-curcumin turmeric extract. Precise attention to detail, and the accuracy of facts and results, is the hallmark of Longvida®, and the mission of Verdure Sciences.”

This is also good information – human studies are infinitely preferable to animal or test-tube studies. But as stated it “has shown great promise in several studies.” Great promise is not evidence or proof. No matter how expensive it is, it still might not be effective in treating disease.

Taken as recommended, a 30-day supply costs $60.00, and that is pretty pricey for a product that, at this time, is not proven to be effective. Currently, there is no direct evidence that it is even superior to the use of plain turmeric powder. We may learn a few years down the road that Ayurvedic medicine had it right all along – use turmeric in cooking for improved health, because it supports and boosts the curcumin component. So many times we’ve learned that the active ingredient in a substance is ineffective (sometimes even harmful) in extract form; it relies on the companion substances for its usefulness.

I have seen so many dozens, no, hundreds of products with similar claims for research and benefits that have not panned out, that I cannot bring myself accept their claims without much more evidence.

Consider also, that curcumin products may be developed, patented and sold, whereas turmeric – which is cheap and readily available, cannot be patented. There is no incentive for a company to sell turmeric, but great incentive to patent a formulation of one of its components.

Keep up your great work and research, and don’t be discouraged. You may well be onto something, and I will look a perfect fool for not seeing it. And please do keep us all up to date – we all benefit from your quest!
Best regards,

Kathrynne Holden, MS

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#9 carruthers209

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Posted 20 February 2011 - 05:49 PM

Thank for your your time and expertise in looking into this issue for me of Longvida curcumin as a commercial dietary supplement pill. I was getting dizzy trying to sort through all that information because I didn't have a context of pulling out the relevant data. I have many more questions but I'll try to focus on them one at a time. I really appreciate your willingness to give me the benefit of your expertise to go through my questions. I had no idea 3000+ previous studies on curcumin had been posted. I've been printing out several from well-known university research labs like UCLA Brain Research Institute, John Hopkins Medicine, Washington University in St. Louis, BioMedCentral in conjunction with the Michael J. Fox Foundation (couldn't even read the technical data in that article but it was amazing), etc. Where have we been? This should have been brought to the forefront of Parkinson's research and possible therapies years ago when the articles started surfacing.

I would like to go back to another posting where you were explaining to me and your other readers about the damaged prions (Unfolding pathogenesis in Parkinson's Breakthrough-January 20th, 2011) referencing a previous post of yours titled "Turmeric treatment for Parkinson's."

The author, Bharath, stated "Curcumin can prevent the degeneration or the death of the cells. Besides anti-oxidant and anti-cancer properties, curcumin also had therapeutic potential for neurogological disorders, he said. It also had the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier, he said."

The reference further stated that the "scientists attached amino acids which are easily absorbed by the body." So are amino acids the precursors to proteins? If turmeric is added to proteins when cooking do you think this might enhance the absorption rate of the curcumin? I assume this needs to be done in oil because of the insolubility of the curcumin in water. What else do you suggest to enhance the absorption rate of the turmeric? I did find another spice to put the turmeric in that will make it more popular with my husband. I put it in Montreal Seasoning (along with garlic) on his steak. Using only half a teaspoon instead of a full teaspoon was a much better idea-thanks. So does that make steak with turmeric a health food? (ha-ha)

#10 Kathrynne Holden, MS

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Posted 21 February 2011 - 05:19 PM

Dear Friend,
Good question once again – yes, proteins are long chains of amino acids; in digestion, these protein chains are broken down into individual amino acids, and these aminos are then
reassembled by the body into the protein form most needed for rebuilding cells.

I do think Bharath’s statements are a bit too strong. Thus far, studies have been done in the lab, and in animals, which may or may not apply to humans. True, attaching aminos may well make the curcumin more absorbable, and scientists are in a better position than I to know whether pure curcumin is the best possible substance to fight PD. I am still not prepared to say that we know that for sure, though. Turmeric, not curcumin, has been used medicinally for centuries; no doubt the curcumin is the vital point, but it may be that other supporting substances in the turmeric give it its disease-fighting potential.

Now, as to adding turmeric to proteins in cooking, this unfortunately is not the same as adding aminos to curcumin. Would that it were so. But that does not mean that adding turmeric to Montreal Seasoning for a steak isn’t a great idea. I think that’s an inspired idea! I think the more you experiment, the more ways you will find to cook with turmeric that you both enjoy; and as far as I can tell so far, cooking appears to be the best way to use turmeric for good absorption of curcumin. For example, today I made chicken noodle soup. When cooking the onions, I added ½ teaspoon of turmeric; it gave the finished soup a beautiful rich golden color, with no added taste that I could tell.

Keep up that good work! And keep us updated on your progress. I like that idea of putting it with Montreal Seasoning.
Best regards,

Kathrynne Holden, MS

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#11 carruthers209

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Posted 23 February 2011 - 06:04 PM

Kathrynne-we are on a roll! How do chocolate covered turmeric cupcakes sound??!! You think I’m kidding. That’s what we need a recipe for. My husband probably has the typical American male taste palette-meat and potatoes and none of that healthy or green stuff- with a sweet tooth that doesn’t quit. This man will go to the grocery store, come back with an entire chocolate cake and will have eaten it by the end of the week (OK- I helped a “little”). So you see what I am up against.

I ran out of my small bottle of turmeric (McCormick Ground Turmeric) and had to go buy some more. I bought a bigger bottle and was surprised at the difference in taste and bitterness. This (Morton and Bassett SF) was so much smoother and didn’t have that strong bitter after taste. I was intrigued by its much better flavor so I found some really yummy chocolate frosting I had saved in the freezer and put some in it to experiment. It tasted quite good. I noticed there are cooking shows right now in which the chef is using chocolate in all kinds of unusual and creative ways. So back to my request, do you have any good chocolate or other dessert recipes for turmeric?

I read that turmeric is part of the ginger family. I’ve been buying crystallized ginger root from the grocery store to eat like candy-it’s so good!! Is there some sort of turmeric candy that has the same sweet taste? Ginger cookies are yummy. Can they be modified to turmeric ginger cookies? Whoa, that sounds like a terrible disease. How about “spicy” ginger cookies?

Intrigued by the difference in bitterness and taste in the different turmeric brands I went out and bought four bottles. I taste tested four different turmeric brands of spice by dipping my finger in the powder and tasting it. The Morton and Bassett San Francisco was the very best and most mellow flavor. The Gourmet McCormick and Spice Islands was in the middle and the McCormick Ground Turmeric was the most bitter and harshest. One of the internet articles said that Johnson and Johnson was even using turmeric on their bandaids (in India). Well, they can have that bottle! Just kidding, maybe I’ll try it out on my bandaids. Any thoughts or comments? And please don’t tell me that the worse it tastes, probably the better it is for you.

#12 Kathrynne Holden, MS

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Posted 24 February 2011 - 06:47 PM

Dear Friend,

You know, you just might be onto something BIG with turmeric cupcakes. Turmeric is becoming recognized as a valuable herb, and cupcakes are all the rage right now. What a combination! And I’m intrigued with your taste-testing of different brands of turmeric, what a good idea.

I regret to say, I do not have dessert recipes with turmeric as an ingredient; but that does not mean you couldn’t experiment. Here is a favorite blogger (I love Indian food) that uses garam masala in chocolate cupcakes, and looking at the ingredients, I believe it’s because the chocolate might blend happily with the masala.
http://ateaspoonoftu...egan/#more-3180

What you might do is take your favorite chocolate cake recipe, add just 1/4 to ½ teaspoon of turmeric, and see how it turns out. Ditto with ginger cookies – I would think a nice spicy ginger cookie would be even more receptive to turmeric. I do hope you’ll try it out and let us know the results.
Best regards,

Kathrynne Holden, MS

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#13 noah

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Posted 26 February 2011 - 11:22 AM

I hate to cook always have can you geet turmeric as a pill? So let me understand curcumin is found in turmeric?

#14 Kathrynne Holden, MS

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Posted 26 February 2011 - 05:52 PM

Noah, you certainly can get turmeric (and curcumin) in pill form. Check at your local health food store, or on iHerb.com, Swansons vitamins, or other sites that sell supplements. The concern we've been discussing is the bioavailability of both -- it appears to be best absorbed either lightly cooked, or mixed with olive oil and ground black pepper.

And yes, curcumin is a component of turmeric.

Edited by Kathrynne Holden, MS, 26 February 2011 - 05:53 PM.

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#15 carruthers209

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Posted 07 March 2011 - 01:18 AM

I guess the question of the day is how to make the turmeric as soluble as possible (but encased in something protective) and get past the blood-brain-barrier and into those neurons to do its magic with neuroprotection and maybe even neurogenesis. Since I don’t have a laboratory to create those nano-particled lipids I am reading some of the recipes for turmeric from India and I see where it is recommended that it be put in a glass of milk or in some honey or cooked in hot oil. You also recommended that it be cooked first in some oil with onions. Could you please explain how milk, honey or hot oil can maybe combine with the compounds in turmeric to hopefully get it past the gastric stomach acids, liver absorption, and finally hopefully past the blood-brain-barrier? What else might you recommend? I know I’ve seen that black pepper might be combined to help the turmeric get passed the blood-brain-barrier. Does the type of oil matter? Thanks!! Looking forward to your answers.

#16 Kathrynne Holden, MS

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Posted 08 March 2011 - 06:20 PM

Ah, Carruthers, here I’m afraid I don’t have a good answer. The best I’ve seen for taking it uncooked is from a colleague:

“Dr. David Servan-Schreiber in his excellent book ‘Anti-Cancer: A New Way of Life’ quotes a study using 1/2 tsp olive oil, 1/4 tsp turmeric and a dash of black pepper as an excellent source of [absorbable] curcumin.”

I have, though, noted the same Ayurvedic recommendations, regarding use with milk, honey, or light cooking.

My best guess would be that combining raw turmeric with milk or honey, or light cooking, develops it into a form that allows stomach acids or intestinal enzymes to best break down the turmeric and release the curcumin, before it enters the bloodstream. Once in the bloodstream, curcumin apparently is among the substances that can cross the blood-brain barrier.

My personal question is whether the turmeric contains substances that support the metabolism of the curcumin; or whether, in fact, isolating the curcumin into a soluble form is actually preferable. We don’t yet know the answer, so I can’t say with confidence that use of turmeric is best. But I will say that a number of times in the past, it has been shown that a food is a better-utilized source of a nutrient than the isolated nutrient itself. The food contains substances that improve absorption, metabolism, and/or utilization of the desired nutrient. So, for now, I’m putting my money on turmeric.
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#17 jb49

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Posted 09 March 2011 - 06:54 AM

I bought my tumeric spice shaker the other day. I am going to try shaking it into my raspberry muffins. jb
Don't be hard on yourself, try your best and be strong!

#18 Kathrynne Holden, MS

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Posted 09 March 2011 - 08:32 PM

JB, JB, JB -- I think I detect a faint trace of "Beachdog-itis."
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#19 jb49

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Posted 09 March 2011 - 08:56 PM

Beachdog-itis? Wow! Thank you Kathrynne, uh; it is a good thing, right? .......Beachdog?? Actually, I wanted to say that I sprinkled tumeric on my scrambled egg with melted cheese on toast sandwich this morning. I could taste the tumeric, and it was good. However I now think mustard when I think tumeric and it won't be sprinkled into raspberry muffins. Tumeric is my right jab and raspberries will be my left handed hay maker! Look out Mr. Parkster..

I do believe in the power of good food, Jb
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#20 gazelle66

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Posted 11 March 2011 - 02:47 PM

Dear Kathrynne and Kirsty.....

Really sorry to drag this out, but despite your many attempts at making this clear, I thought I was clear and then realise that i'm not.

My issue is this.....I don't like taking supplements. Can I just cook with Tumeric regularly, or do I need to take the cucurmin supplements as well for the Tumeric to work?

Yours sincerely....
'extremely thick' from England :oops:




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