The science of turmeric


If you should ever research turmeric at the National Institute of Health – the world’s premier repository of health publications – you will find more than 6,000 scientific papers devoted to it. These papers, in multiple reputable journals, consistently cite the outstanding longevity and anti-inflammatory properties of this modest yellow plant root.

Turmeric has numerous health preserving constituents, but the best of them is a phytochemical (see Why Nutraceuticals Matter) called curcumin, and two others of related shape, which are collectively the curcuminoids. Curcuminoids mop up free radicals, one of the most important causes of age related inflammation (see Age Better). They have a machine gun effect on inflammatory pathways, knocking out numerous inflammatory transcription factors, enzymes, and cytokines, the messenger molecules that coordinate the inflammatory response.

There are significant consequences. Experimental animals fed curcumin have enhanced lifespans, and lower rates of cancer and heart disease. Many experts think the turmeric in curry explains the low incidence of dementia in Asian countries. Turmeric tea is popular on Okinawa, the Japanese territory with exceptionally long lived people.

Curcumin doesn’t dissolve readily, so it is poorly absorbed through the gut wall. It is also rapidly destroyed by the liver. For these reasons, very little gets from your plate to your blood stream. The consequences of that are debated; perhaps very small amounts are needed for its health benefits; perhaps the benefits come from the breakdown molecules. Regardless, the best policy is to take it with something to help it through your body’s barriers.

LifeGuard Essentials uses Mireva branded curcumin, which combines curcumin with lecithin (the same molecule that emulsifies oil to make mayonnaise), to make it soluble. LifeGuard Essentials also contains black pepper extract, which inhibits the liver’s curcumin breakdown enzymes.

Each capsule contains 250 milligrams of Meriva Curcumin Phospholipid Complex, the equivalent of 50 milligrams of curcuminoids, and 5 milligrams of black pepper extract, equivalent of 250 milligrams of piper nigrum.