Turmeric for Heart Health

In life, sometimes we don’t realize how bad our health is until we’re on the way to the emergency room after suffering from a life-threatening health issue. In some instances we know our health is suffering, but our medical bills can be stacked so high that we don’t seek the help we need, because of how costly it might be to get treated. Well, the main ingredient in turmeric has health properties that just may be able to prevent or ward off some of the most common medical issues that ail so many of us.

One in five adults will develop heart failure within their lifetime. Heart Failure is the number one cause of hospitalization in people ages 65 and up. It’s also the cause of roughly 610,000 deaths per year in the United States alone, which is 25% of all annual deaths.[1]

Needless to say, heart health is a serious issue.

While it would be nice to say that turmeric could miraculously cure and prevent all heart ailments, that would just be an overly-simplistic way of assessing its health benefits. With that being said, there is ample evidence that turmeric can have positive impacts on human heart health.

History of Turmeric Curcumin:

Known simply as a spice to many, turmeric has had a surprisingly long medicinal history, dating back 4000 years.[2] Western medicine has had a history of shying away from researching and/or prescribing natural medicines. Even so, turmeric does have a history of medical use in South Asia.

Turmeric is widely cultivated mostly in India but also across the tropics and goes by a multitude of names in different countries and cultures. Turmeric is derived from cucumina longa, which is a rhizomatous herbaceous perennial plant, belonging to the ginger family.

Turmeric was only recognized within modern medicine about 25 years ago, although certain countries have been using turmeric as a medical treatment for many different diseases and illnesses for thousands of years.

Turmeric Curcumin’s Role in Treating Cardiovascular Diseases:

One in three Americans have some sort of cardiovascular disease. Additionally, it’s estimated that 17.7 million people died world-wide due to cardiovascular disease in 2015 alone.

The most common form of cardiovascular disease is coronary artery disease. This is when the endothelium, the blood vessels that are connected with the heart are damaged. One study conducted shows that a group of 121 individuals about to have coronary artery bypass surgery were given either 4 grams of curcumin per day or a placebo before and after the procedure and they found that the group of individuals given curcumin had a 65% decreased risk of experiencing a heart attack in the hospital.[3] Therefore, This study strongly suggests a curcumin supplement can directly help to prevent heart attacks by protecting the endothelium in the blood vessels.

Another cardiovascular disease is congenital heart disease, which is characterized by heart defects at birth. A study supported by research grants from the Natural Science Foundation of China, conducted a study on fifty healthy adult rats, exposing some of them to ethanol. After their scientific studies on the embryonic hearts, they found that curcumin had a protective effect against alcohol exposure.

After their study they concluded, “the results of our research provide progression towards the understanding of alcohol abuse and epigenetic mechanisms in the pathogenesis of congenital heart disease. This surely will promote the development of new medicine for preventing congenital heart disease.“[4] The findings of the study indicated that curcumin can help prevent or play a protective role against alcohol-associated congenital heart disease.

Can Turmeric Curcumin Help Prevent Strokes?

Something not well known but that studies have shown is that turmeric curcumin can assist in the prevention of strokes by adding it into your diet. Strokes are the second most common cause of death around the globe and the leading cause of long-term disability in the United States. Strokes kill about 140,000 Americans per year on average. Statistically that is nearly one in every twenty deaths. In case you’re unaware of what a stroke is, it’s when blood flow to the brain is hindered for a few seconds or more, and the tissue of the brain is left without oxygen and nutrients.

So how does a medical event affecting the brain relate to your heart? To put it simply, our heart directly affects our brains, and stroke occurs when the heart can’t pump enough blood to the brain.

So where does this have to do with turmeric curcumin? It’s been shown in some studies that curcumin can reduce the amount of cholesterol and plaque buildup in the arteries and reduces inflammation within the heart and arteries, freeing up blood flow to the brain and less strained.[5][6]

Studies show that the anti-inflammatory properties in curcumin are highly efficient in reducing the occurrence of blood clotting and inflammation near the arteries.[7]

Turmeric Curcumin’s Anti-inflammatory Properties and Benefits

It’s been established that controlling inflammation in the body is very important. Curcumin, the main ingredient in turmeric, is a powerful anti-inflammatory and some studies have shown it to be as effective as(and sometimes even more than) some anti-inflammatory drugs that are more commonly used to prevent inflammation.[8]

Turmeric has been shown to reduce inflammation through inhibition of COX enzymes.[9] This is beneficial for the heart because inflammation can cause plaque buildup, blood clots, and clogged arteries.[10]

Using Curcumin As An Antioxidant

Oxidative stress, a process that can cause cell damage, is believed to be one of the factors behind multiple diseases, including “cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and eye diseases such as cataracts and age-related macular degeneration”, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.[11] Curcumin has antioxidant properties, which have been shown to counteract oxidative stress. It’s most likely safe to assume that curcumin is effective in attenuating the harmful damage to cells caused by free radicals, but there is still a debate among the scientific community as to whether consuming large amounts of antioxidants in excessive doses could have negative effects.

So if taking curcumin in supplement form, it’s important to not exceed the recommended dose.

Turmeric Curcumin as a Supplement or as an Ingredient in Meals

If you’re questioning whether you should incorporate turmeric curcumin into your diet, or take it as a daily supplement, there are a few noteworthy differences between the two. Incorporating small amounts of turmeric curcumin into your daily diet can be beneficial for your overall health in the long run.

You can purchase turmeric curcumin as a dry powder or you can purchase the fresh root, which is widely available in grocery stores. Incorporating turmeric curcumin into your meals is simple and a good way to improve your overall health. For example, you can incorporate it into your morning serving of scrambled eggs along with some black pepper, which actually increases curcumin’s bioavailability(its ability to enter the blood stream and have the intended effect) by “seven to eight fold”, according to NutritionFacts.org.

Taking turmeric curcumin as a supplement is also a valid option, especially for those who aren’t fond of turmeric’s taste. Just be advised to not consume more than the recommended daily dose, as it’s not well known yet as to whether excessive doses of turmeric can be toxic or not.[11]

Conclusion

Overall, a good deal of studies have shown that incorporating turmeric/curcumin into your diet as a supplement can have many advantageous effects on your heart health. By knowing this, people living with a heart condition can essentially supplement their more existing anti-inflammatories and anti-oxidant medications with a curcumin extract for a more robust treatment regime.  Incorporating turmeric into your regular diet or by taking a supplement is likely to improve heart health and reduce trips to the doctor’s office or hospital.

Sources
  1. https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92752/
  3. “10 Proven Health Benefits of Turmeric and Curcumin.” Healthline, Healthline Media, www.healthline.com/nutrition/top-10-evidence-based-health-benefits-of-turmeric#section3.
  4. Yan, Xiaochen, et al. “Inhibition of Histone Acetylation by Curcumin Reduces Alcohol-Induced Fetal Cardiac Apoptosis.” Journal of Biomedical Science, BioMed Central, 5 Jan. 2017, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5217636/
  5. https://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/news/20090720/curcumin-may-prevent-clogged-arteries
  6. https://mefirstliving.com/pages/5-amazing-heart-health-benefits-of-turmeric-curcumin
  7. http://www.koreascience.or.kr/article/ArticleFullRecord.jsp?cn=E1MBB7_2012_v45n4_221
  8. http://www.progressivehealth.com/turmeric-more-effective-than-drugs.htm
  9. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2225411016302528
  10. http://med.stanford.edu/news/all-news/2012/12/international-study-points-to-inflammation-as-cause-of-plaque-buildup-in-heart-vessels-researchers-say.html
  11. https://nccih.nih.gov/health/antioxidants/introduction.htm
  12. https://nutritionfacts.org/2015/02/05/why-pepper-boosts-turmeric-blood-levels/
  13. Wongcharoen, W, et al. “Effects of Curcuminoids on Frequency of Acute Myocardial Infarction after Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting.” The American Journal of Cardiology., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 1 July 2012, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22481014.
  14. “Understand Your Risk for Heart FAilure.” Understand Your Risk for Heart Failure, 9 May 2017, www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HeartFailure/CausesAndRisksForHeartFailure/Understand-Your-Risk-for-Heart-Failure_UCM_477645_Article.jsp#.WlfiKa6nGM8.
  15. Prasad, Sahdeo. “Turmeric, the Golden Spice.” Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd Edition., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 1 Jan. 1970, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92752/.
  16. “What Is Cardiovascular Disease?” What Is Cardiovascular Disease?, 7 June 2017, http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/What-is-Cardiovascular-Disease_UCM_301852_Article.jsp#.WudFLIgvyUl.
  17. TurmericForHealthTeam. “6 Proven Benefits Of Turmeric For Stroke [UPDATED].” Turmeric for Health!, 15 Aug. 2017, www.turmericforhealth.com/turmeric-benefits/turmeric-your-defense-against-stroke.
  18. “Stroke.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 6 Sept. 2017, www.cdc.gov/stroke/facts.htm.
  19. “Turmeric Health Benefits Have a Happy New Year With Turmeric.” Huffington Post, Dr. Andrew Weil Founder and Director, The Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, 25 May 2011, https://www.huffingtonpost.com/andrew-weil-md/turmeric-health-have-a-happy-new-year_b_798328.html.
  20. Prasad, Sahdeo. “Turmeric, the Golden Spice.” Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd Edition., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 1 Jan. 1970, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92752/.
  21. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/top-10-evidence-based-health-benefits-of-turmeric#section5