Tips From a Cancer Survivor: Invest in Your Future, Invest in Your Health

Sandy Cardy (CPA, CA, CFP)

On Valentine’s Day in 2012 I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

As a leading authority on financial, tax, and estate planning, I’ve spent many years helping people grow their net worth and preserve the value of their estates. My mantra to clients has always been, “Wealth is built with returns over time.” Sound, life-long investment strategies have the greatest impact on your financial future, especially when you’re planning for the later years. It was that Valentine’s Day, after I received the phone call, that I realized that the definition of ”wealth” I’d been operating under was flawed. Because what good is all that financial planning if you aren’t around to enjoy the rewards?

I ate well, exercised, and had a fulfilling career and a great family life. But I hadn’t paid enough attention to investing in my health. This life-changing event forced me to re-examine my health: both in lifestyle & diet. The more I researched, the more it became obvious to me that there was so much more I could have been doing in terms of preventive healthcare.

I had surgery in 2012 and spent three weeks in Reno, Nevada having immune boosting IVs as well as a few sessions of low-dose chemo with IPT. Cancer is a multi-factorial disease, and I now focus on my whole body — mental, emotional, and physical. Embarking on a quest to find ways to get my body back in balance, I spent two years researching and investigating all things health-related, using my body as a test lab. Over a series of blogs I’ve written for Life Extension, I will share with you what worked to get my body back in balance on my journey to optimal health and wellness. My first step was finding the right healthcare provider.

Finding The Right Healthcare Provider

Today, many people are becoming more health conscious, giving way to a new era of personalized medicine and a growing awareness of our body’s ability to repair itself. I predict that in the next decade or so, there will be greater acceptance of the notion that the body is incredibly resilient and a shift in support for preventive medicine and the importance of a healthy mindset.

When it comes to our health, we can't simply rely on medical professionals to take care of us. The smartest approach to healthcare is self-care — that is, self-initiated and deliberate care for one's self.

Whether you begin looking for a healthcare provider because of a health crisis or because you’re looking into preventive health, you need the team you build to provide precisely the right kind of support. The practitioners you choose may be from western or eastern medicine, conventional or alternative — it is your choice. But whoever they are, it is key to find healers who truly empower your outlook. It's about working alongside your team of doctors (involved in decisions, and also taking charge) in a way that makes you feel empowered, because when you are feeling empowered you will heal, provided you give your body the right tools.

Invest In Yourself

Here are three simple steps (or tools as I like to call them) for investing in your health to get started…

1. Add Daily Fiber

Fiber equates to “regularity”, right. “Well, ye-ah, so what?” I used to scoff. Well, fiber is a lot more beneficial than for just keeping you regular. Fiber helps the body eliminate toxins.

Normally, used-up estrogens are excreted (in stool and bile). But if you have a stressed-out liver (and many do) you may not be excreting estrogens as well as you might.

The standard North American diet is prone to raising estrogen levels, because the wrong kind of diet can alter gut bacteria causing used-up estrogens to be re-absorbed into the bloodstream.

Over time, accumulating estrogens can be a contributing factor to breast and gynecological cancers in women, and prostate cancer in men.

One way to shuttle out estrogens is through fiber. To boost fiber intake, grab seeds (like flax) and up your fruit and vegetable intake.

Experts recommend at least 30 grams of fiber per day. If you don’t feel you can get that from food, medicinal fiber from supplements can help.

2. Change Your Breakfast Routine — Just A Little

What you eat at breakfast sets the tone for the day, and improvements can begin with two simple moves.

First, drink a glass of warm water, with the juice of half a lemon, 15-30 minutes before eating. If half a lemon is too harsh, start with just a few drops and slowly build up to half a lemon. This will get your gut’s HCl (hydrochloric acid) stimulated. And you want that because HCL is bad for bugs and good for you! HCl is our first line of defense against bacteria and pathogens – HCl kills bugs that can make you sick. Also, healthy levels of HCl stimulate the enzymes that break down food and optimize extraction of food’s nutritional value.

Second, eat a balance of protein, fat, and fiber at breakfast, to give you balanced energy reserves throughout the day.

3. Support Your Liver

The liver is the largest internal organ in your body and performs about 500 functions, including blood detoxification.

Our livers are more overtaxed than ever. Also, many people have sluggish livers. Signs the liver is overburdened manifest as things like digestive issues, skin problems, lethargy, blood sugar fluctuations, hormonal imbalances, and intolerance to coffee and alcohol.

The standard liver enzyme tests may well result in your doctor telling you your liver is fine. The reality is that liver abnormalities will only register in standard blood work after years of abuse.

While our livers are designed to excrete toxins (such as harmful estrogen metabolites) naturally there are a couple of contemporary problems that obstruct optimal functioning. First, in today’s world, toxic load exceeds the capacity of the channels of elimination. Secondly, some people are genetically better able to detoxify their livers than others. By eating the following several times a week you can support your liver’s detoxification:

Brassicas (like cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli): Good not just for eliminating toxins, but also for their high nutrient count and for facilitating the excretion of harmful estrogens.

Alliums (onions and garlic): These contain nutrients from the sulfur family and support the liver’s detox pathways.

Turmeric: This spice contains curcumin, which both eases inflammation and supports liver detox.

I’ve learned, from personal experience, true wealth is about more than balance sheets and income statements — health is vital to the equation too.

How are you investing in yourself?

Sandy Cardy (CPA, CA, CFP) is a leading authority on tax and estate planning, and for many years Sandy helped individuals grow their net worth. Diagnosed with cancer in 2012 and now cancer-free and thriving, she speaks and teaches widely on how to make sound personal and financial decisions, embrace radiant health, and how to build a lasting legacy in all senses of the word. You can sign up for Sandy’s newsletter and download her eBook (7 Steps for Finding the Right Financial Advisor and 7 Steps forFinding the Right Healthcare Provider) on her website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Sources:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20138982
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3731019/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17691916
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17028159
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20229497
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9630736

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3 Reasons Why Pomegranate is a Superfruit


The name "pomegranate" (Punica granatum L.) derives from the Latin pomum and granatum, meaning apple-seeded. The fruit's numerous seeds have made it a symbol of female fertility. The ancient Greeks believed it to be a symbol of life, marriage, and rebirth.

The Composition of Pomegranates


Pomegranate contains the phenol ellagic acid, which in recent research has been associated with protective effects against cancer. The fruit is a good source of vitamin C, tannins, and flavonoids. Major anthocyanidins include delphinidin, cyanidin, and pelargonidin, which contribute to the pomegranate's antioxidant activity.1 An examination of the pomegranate fermented juice and seed oil's antioxidant properties found activity similar to that of green tea, red wine, and and may even act as a preservative.2 Flavonoids extracted from the juice and seed oil demonstrated an ability to inhibit lipoxygenase — an enzyme that converts favorable unsaturated fatty acids to damaging peroxides.

Punicalagin, an ellagitannin contained in pomegranate, has been identified as a major source of the fruit's antioxidant activity.3 A trial in which 14 healthy participants consumed pomegranate juice daily for 15 days found a decrease in plasma malondialdehyde (MDA, a marker of oxidative stress), and an increase in red blood cell levels of the antioxidant glutathione.4 Some of the benefits of pomegranate juice persisted a week after discontinuing the beverage.

While pomegranate seeds and their fleshy covering known as aryls are the parts of the fruit normally consumed, significant free radical scavenging ability has been found in the peel as well.5 For example, a trial of humans with ulcerative colitis found that the peel improved symptoms in comparison with a placebo after four weeks.6

Pomegranates Have Cardiovascular Benefits

In a trial of patients with high cholesterol levels, the addition of pomegranate to the drug simvastatin lowered low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels more than simvastatin alone and improved oxidative stress levels in addition to other benefits.7 In another human study, pomegranate juice decreased susceptibility of LDL to aggregation and retention, and increased serum paraoxonase activity, which helps protect against lipid oxidation.8 In other research, pomegranate juice given daily for two weeks lowered systolic blood pressure by 5% and serum angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE, which controls blood pressure by regulating fluid volume) by 36% in a trial of hypertensive individuals.9

When consumed for up to three years by carotid artery stenosis patients, pomegranate juice was associated with a significant decrease in carotid intima media thickness (a measure of atherosclerosis) and systolic blood pressure.10

Pomegranates Have Antimicrobial Effects

A study involving extracts of pomegranate aril and peel found antimicrobial activity against Staphyloccus aureus and Escherichia coli, two common pathogens that are frequently implicated in foodborne illnesses.11 In laboratory studies, pomegranate peel extract as well as some of the fruit's individual polyphenols have demonstrated activity against Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Klebsiella pneumoniae.12Another study found antimicrobial activity for pomegranate extractagainst Clostridium difficile.13

Pomegranates Have Anticancer Effects

A review of pomegranate polyphenols in cancer prevention and treatment noted that "Pomegranate evokes antiproliferative, anti-invasive, and antimetastatic effects, induces apoptosis […]. Furthermore, pomegranate blocks the activation of inflammatory pathways including, but not limited to, the NF-κB (nuclear factor kappa-light-chain-enhancer of activated B cells) pathway."14

In estrogen-dependent and independent human breast cancer cells, fermented pomegranate juice polyphenols exhibited an antiproliferative effect that was approximately double that of fresh juice polyphenols.15 Additionally, pomegranate seed oil was effective at inhibiting proliferation and invasion in estrogen-receptor positive cells and inducing apoptosis in estrogen receptor negative metastatic cells.

A review of the pomegranate's effects against breast cancer notes that "Punica (pomegranate) extracts and its components, individually or in combination, can modulate and target key proteins and genes involved in breast cancer" and that other mechanisms attributed to pomegranate act "at various steps of carcinogenesis including proliferation, invasion, migration, metastasis, angiogenesis, and inflammation." 16

In a trial involving men with prostate cancer and rising prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels, participants who received pomegranate extract experienced a six month or greater increase in PSA doubling time, which indicates slowing of disease.17

Superfruit, Not Superstar

So why aren't pomegranates more popular? While appearing with greater frequency in the produce section of supermarkets since achieving "superfruit" status, they aren't a top seller.

Combined with their unfamiliarity to some individuals and the absence of year-round availability is the lack of ease of consumption. Pomegranates must be cut open and the juicy, messy aryls removed and consumed raw. Not exactly like biting into an apple.

Fortunately, concentrated pomegranate juice and pomegranate extract capsules are available for those individuals who find whole pomegranate fruit too messy or time-consuming to eat on a regular basis. For those watching their sugar intake, consider the capsules as an alternative to the juice, which contains sugar.

References

  1. Noda Y et al. J Agric Food Chem. 2002 Jan 2;50(1):166-71.
  2. Schubert SY et al. J Ethnopharmacol. 1999 Jul;66(1):11-7.
  3. Cerdá B et al. Eur J Nutr. 2003 Jan;42(1):18-28.
  4. Matthaiou CM et al. Food Chem Toxicol. 2014 Nov;73:1-6.
  5. Singh RP et al. J Agric Food Chem. 2002 Jan 2;50(1):81-6.
  6. Kamali M et al. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2015 Aug;21(3):141-6.
  7. Hamoud S et al. Atherosclerosis. 2014 Jan;232(1):204-10.
  8. Aviram M et al. Am J Clin Nutr. 2000 May;71(5):1062-76.
  9. Aviram M et al. Atherosclerosis. 2001 Sep;158(1):195-8.
  10. Aviram M et al. Clin Nutr. 2004 Jun;23(3):423-33.
  11. Pagliarulo C et al. Food Chem. 2016 Jan 1;190:824-31.
  12. Dey D et al. Pharm Biol. 2015;53(10):1474-80.
  13. Finegold SM et al. Nutrition. 2014 Oct;30(10):1210-2.
  14. Turrini E et al. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2015;2015:938475.
  15. Kim ND et al. Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2002 Feb;71(3):203-17.
  16. Vini R et al. Biofactors. 2015 Mar-Apr;41(2):78-89.
  17. Paller CJ et al. Prostate Cancer Prostatic Dis. 2013 Mar;16(1):50-5.

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Nutrient Deficiencies in the Modern Diet

Michael Joseph

Nutrient deficiencies in the modern diet are a rising problem.

If you think you’re eating the perfect diet, you may want to reconsider that for a moment. On a purely statistical basis, the chances are that you have some critical nutrient deficiencies.

The data makes for scary reading:

· At least 98% of American adults are deficient in potassium1

· Approximately 68% of adults have a magnesium deficiency

· In the 2009-2012 NHANES study, only 10.8% of participants were consuming an adequate intake of choline2

· The prevalence of vitamin D insufficiency in the United States is 69.5%3

In short, the nutrient deficiencies in our modern diet are nothing short of a public health crisis. While these four nutrient deficiencies are only the tip of the iceberg, they are some of the most critical vitamins and minerals for our overall health. This article will investigate the cause of these deficiencies, the potential consequences, and what we can do about it.

Potassium: Important to Every Cell in our Body

Potassium plays a key role in every single cell in the human body; it’s a vital electrolyte that affects everything from our heart health to digestive function and even skeletal contraction. As an electrolyte, potassium works in combination — and in a delicate balance — with sodium to regulate blood pressure and the amount of fluid in our cells.

The problem is we’re just not consuming enough of it, and thanks to the abundance of processed food in our diet, our sodium intake is far too high. Public health has taken the route of focusing on salt restriction to rectify this problem, but this also has potential pitfalls of its own. For example, not only is excessive sodium a risk factor for heart disease but so is too little.4

This imbalanced ratio between potassium and sodium negatively impacts our whole biological system, with a rise in blood pressure standing out among the most critical.5 However, the good news is that we can quickly increase our potassium intake through eating a variety of healthy whole foods. Some of the most significant dietary sources of potassium include avocados, fish, meat, spinach and other leafy greens.

Magnesium: The Most Essential Mineral of All?

Many people in the nutrition world consider magnesium to be the most essential mineral, and it’s not difficult to see why. Magnesium exerts a powerful influence in the body, playing a part in over 300 enzyme systems and regulating blood pressure, protein synthesis, and blood glucose control just to name a few.

There is not one single culprit for our deficiency in magnesium; in my view, there are three primary reasons why our magnesium insufficiency is so high.

1) Magnesium depletion in soil due to over farming and the overuse of pesticides. For instance, glyphosate can inhibit magnesium absorption in plants .6

2) An excessive consumption of grains in the modern diet. All grains contain phytic acid, often referred to as an anti-nutrient because it can impair the absorption of many minerals. No matter how much magnesium we consume, it will never be enough if we are not adequately absorbing it.7

3) The lack of magnesium-rich foods in the modern diet. Ultra-processed foods now contribute a concerning 57.9% of all calories in the US diet.8 Processing strips these foods of most of their beneficial nutrients, and the lack of whole foods in our diet is a major problem.

Magnesium deficiency vastly increases the risk of several chronic diseases, including Alzheimer’s and cardiovascular disease.9 Again, we can increase our consumption of magnesium by focusing on nutrient-dense foods such as green vegetables and nuts.

Choline: The Impact of Shunning Our Traditional Foods?

Over the past several decades, our diets have changed beyond recognition. With the controversial war on fat and dietary cholesterol, many foods became considered dangerous if not strictly limited.

A few examples of these include egg yolks, organ meats, and shellfish. Despite being foods our ancestors (and grandparents) prized for their nutrient density, many people began to fear — and avoid —them due to their dietary cholesterol content.

One of the problems with this is that these foods are also the most significant dietary sources of choline — an essential nutrient that a large proportion of people are now deficient in.

Choline is a water-soluble vitamin that’s necessary for various processes in the body, including but not limited to methylation, fat metabolism, and liver detoxification. Perhaps the three best dietary sources of choline are beef liver, eggs, and salmon.

Vitamin D: The Sunshine Vitamin

Vitamin D is different from most other vitamins, and it actually converts into a hormone in the body, known as calcitriol. As a result, it controls a broad range of biological processes and is essential for our overall health. Vitamin D plays a crucial role in controlling calcium levels in the blood, strengthening our skeletal system, and fighting disease.

There are two primary sources from which we can obtain vitamin D: the sun and diet. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, and we can find it in fatty animal foods such as eggs, liver, mackerel, salmon, and tuna. It’s not hard to see why we have developed a deficiency in vitamin D; as well as the move to a predominantly indoor lifestyle, we have seen a rapid decline in our intake of fatty animal foods.

Unfortunately, vitamin D deficiency has many perils, and research shows that as vitamin D levels drop, the risks for many chronic diseases increase. Markedly, several studies show that low blood levels of vitamin D are associated with increased risk for cardiovascular disease and several cancers.10,11

For these reasons, if you cannot spend enough time outside in the sun, then it may be worth supplementing with vitamin D3.

References

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22854410
  2. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/07315724.2015.1080127
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3972416/
  4. http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(16)30467-6/abstract
  5. http://advances.nutrition.org/content/5/6/712.full
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3479986/
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2266880/
  8. http://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/6/3/e009892
  9. http://advances.nutrition.org/content/4/3/378S.full
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22234628
  11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4427096/

Michael Joseph is a Nutrition Educator with a passion for traditional foods. He regularly writes at http://nutritionadvance.com

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What is Traditional Chinese Medicine?


TCM, or traditional Chinese medicine, has been in the headlines since the awarding of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Medicine to researcher Youyou Tu for her discovery of the malaria drug Artemisinin from Artemisia annua described in ancient Chinese literature.1

The Nobel prize award signals long-deserved global acceptance of TCM, which is beginning to take a place alongside orthodox medicine as a viable and life-saving medical modality.

While the word “traditional” (as opposed to “alternative”) is sometimes used to designate modern orthodox medicine, with respect to Chinese medicine it refers to millennia-old practices that include diagnosis, the prescription of herbs, minerals or animal-derived substances, acupuncture, exercises such a Tai chi and qigong, food therapy and more.

TCM is based on the belief that the body is a microcosm of the universe, which life energy (chi) flows through the body’s meridians, and that disease results from disharmony between yin and yang. In contrast with Ayurvedic medicine’s three doshas or types, and the Western concept of the four humors, Chinese Medicine posits five elements: earth, wood, metal, water and fire. These elements are symbols of human life stages and bodily functions.

Traditional Approach in a Modern World

Today, TCM doctors utilize ancient as well as modern practices. Diagnosis may be provided by taking several pulses, inspection of the tongue and other methods that differ from those of western medicine.

Traditional Chinese medicines listed in the Chinese Materia Medica include plant seeds, flowers, stems, leaves and roots, dispensed as capsules, liquid extracts, teas, granules or powder.2 Some of these have made their way into nutritional supplements made in the United States, due to peer-reviewed findings that have validated their contribution toward the prevention or treatment of various conditions. A few of the more popular of these include white peony root, royal jelly, reishi mushroom, Gastrodia elata, Huperzine A, icariin (from Epimedium sagittatum), and mulberry leaf.3-7

Acupuncture

Acupuncture, which involves the insertion of needles over specific points, improves the flow of chi along the body’s meridians, according to TCM. Electroacupuncture or acupressure, involving the application of pressure to an acupuncture point, are used by some practitioners in place of needles. Acupuncture is used to treat any ailment and to relieve pain. In China, acupuncture is sometimes utilized during surgery in lieu of anesthesia. A recent evidence review of complementary and integrative therapies published in American Family Physician gave an “A” rating to the evidence in favor of acupuncture as first line treatment for chronic lower back pain, a condition that affects a significant percentage of the American population.8

A number of meta-analyses have added evidence to the benefit of acupuncture in various conditions. Among women with polycystic ovarian syndrome and undergoing in vitro fertilization or intracytoplasmic sperm injection, acupuncture was found to increase clinical pregnancy rate and ongoing pregnancy rate while lowering the incidence of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome and adverse events.9

Other meta-analyses have concluded effectiveness for the use of acupuncture to improve clinical pregnancy rate among women undergoing in vitro fertilization, to reduce alcohol cravings and withdrawal symptoms, for chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome, to improve physical function in those with chronic arthritis of the knee, in vascular cognitive impairment, to help prevent episodic migraine, to treat tension headache, in the management of postoperative pain, for insomnia, to reduce obstructive sleep apnea, for gastrointestinal upset, for symptom management in palliative cancer care, to stimulate the growth of new neurons following ischemic stroke, and more.10-22

Cupping

Cupping, which creates a vacuum on the skin, and moxibustion, which involves burning a small amount of the herb mugwort over a specific acupuncture point or on a needle inserted into an acupuncture point, are also used to stimulate the flow of chi. Although these practices have been the subject of research, there is less evidence available in support of their use in comparison with needle acupuncture.

Tai Chi

Tai chi is both a martial art and a form of exercise engaged in to enhance health, relieve pain and improve relaxation. As a gentle form of exercise, it has gained popularity in the United States, particularly among older individuals. A recent study concluded that it may help reduce the fall rate of older individuals who have a history of falling.23

Qigong

Qigong also involves slow, coordinated movements, combined with rhythmic breathing and meditation. Like acupuncture, it seeks to balance chi. There are an estimated 56 forms of qigong currently in practice.

Nutrition

Traditional Chinese Medicine food therapy involves nutritional and functional aspects of food to treat illnesses.24 Its principles include light eating, balancing food’s hot and cold nature, harmony of the five flavors, and consistency between intake and different health conditions.

The Bottom Line

“Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is a holistic approach to health that attempts to bring the body, mind and spirit into harmony,” write E. Chan and colleagues in Current Opinion in Drug Discovery and Development. “An integration of the traditional Chinese and Western systems of medicine has begun in multiple medical centers internationally, and there is increasing evidence that several herbs and combinations of herbs used in TCM impart important pharmacological effects . . . Improvements in the knowledge of the molecular targets and metabolic pathways, as well as of the synergistic and inhibitory effects associated with important phytochemicals from herbs and herbal formulations, will lead to the development of rational approaches for the safe combination of healthcare systems from different cultures.”25

Traditional Chinese medicine can be used alone or combined with other modalities, including Western medicine. Ask your health care provider about potential interactions between any Chinese medications and pharmaceuticals you have been prescribed.

If you choose to try acupuncture for any ailment or for general health, make certain that your acupuncturist is licensed, and that sterile, disposable needles are used. Most states require national board certification for the practice of Oriental medicine, which is offered by the Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM).

References

  1. Tu Y et al. Angew Chem Int Ed Engl. 2016 Aug 22;55(35):10210-26.
  2. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. https://nccih.nih.gov/health/whatiscam/chinesemed.htm Accessed 2017 Jan 18.
  3. He DY et al. Front Pharmacol. 2011;2:10.
  4. Chen WY et al. Bioorg Med Chem. 2010 Dec 15;18(24):8583-91.
  5. Ramachandran U et al. Neurochem Int.2012 Jun;60(8):827-36.
  6. Zhang HY et al. Trends PharmacolSci. 2006 Dec;27(12):619-25.
  7. Ning H et al. Urology. 2006 Dec;68(6):1350-4.
  8. Kligler B et al. Am Fam Physician. 2016 Sep 1;94(5):369-74.
  9. Jo J et al. Acupunct Med. 2017 Jan 11.
  10. Qian Y et al. Arch Gynecol Obstet. 2016 Dec 19.
  11. Southern C et al. Chin Med. 2016 Dec 15;11:49.
  12. Qin Z et al. Sci Rep. 2016 Oct 19;6:35737.
  13. Lin X et al. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2016 Sep 21;98(18):1578-85.
  14. Min D et al. Curr Neurovasc Res. 2016;13(3):230-8.
  15. Linde K et al. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2016 Jun 28;(6):CD001218.
  16. Linde K et al. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2016 Apr 19;4:CD007587.
  17. Fuentealba CF et al. Rev Med Chil. 2016 Mar;144(3):325-32.
  18. Shergis JL et al. Complement Ther Med. 2016 Jun;26:11-20.
  19. Lv ZT et al. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2016;2016:8792167.
  20. Zhou W et al. J Altern Complement Med. 2016 May;22(5):380-9.
  21. Lau CH et al. Medicine (Baltimore). 2016 Mar;95(9):e2901.
  22. Lu L et al. Sci Rep. 2016 Jan 20;6:19521.
  23. Glickman-Simon R et al. Explore (NY). 2017 Jan - Feb;13(1):79-80.
  24. Zou P. Am J Chin Med. 2016;44(8):1579-1594.
  25. Chan E et al. Curr Opin Drug Discov Devel. 2010 Jan;13(1):50-65.

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Does Curcumin Require Black Pepper for Absorption?

Holli Lapes RD, LD/N

Curcumin is an active constituent found in the turmeric root and is one of the most beneficial compounds, responsible in part for the health benefits of turmeric. 1

When choosing a turmeric supplement, one would want to ensure that it is standardized to guarantee a certain amount of curcumin per capsule in order to obtain the health benefits of the root.

The dilemma is that historically, curcumin has been poorly absorbed when taken as a supplement. This is where piperine comes into play. Piperine is the major biologically active substance found in black pepper.

Although research has indeed shown that piperine can assist with the absorption of curcumin, is it really the most efficient and safest option?

The Downfalls of Black Pepper (Piperine)

At high doses, piperine may affect the concentrations of P-glycoprotein and CYP3A4 substrates in humans.2 CYP3A4, also known as Cytochrome P450, is an important enzyme in the body, mainly found in the liver and in the intestine. CYP3A4 helps the body to metabolize and remove toxins or drugs and in some cases activate or deactivate a drug.

You may be familiar with the fact that people taking certain medications need to use caution when consuming grapefruit.3 This is because some substances, such as grapefruit, interfere with the action of CYP3A4. These substances will therefore either amplify or weaken the action of those drugs that are modified by CYP3A4. In the case of piperine, it is a CYP3A4 inhibitor.

However, based on safety data, 15 mg of piperine is a safe dose and is unlikely to be a concern for most* people.2 In fact, it can be beneficial, as we will explain below.

*Piperine may not be appropriate for people who take Midazolam, a sedative medication.4

The Benefits of Black Pepper (Piperine)

Piperine helps block the conversion of testosterone into estrogen, supporting BOTH healthy estrogen and testosterone levels in men. Also, piperine has been shown to increase the bioavailability of co-administered substances such as curcumin and chrysin. 5,6

Chrysin is a flavonoid found in plants such as passion flowers and has been shown to reduce the conversion of testosterone to estrogen by acting on the aromatase enzyme. Piperine also helps increase the bioavailability and the absorption of compounds, including therapeutic drugs and phytochemicals, by impacting intestinal brush-border ultrastructure. 7

The Superiority of Turmerones & Phospholipids with Curcumin

The essential oils of the turmeric root (turmerones) have been shown to greatly enhance the absorption and bioavailability of curcumin.8 Once absorbed, the curcumin then needs to be available for use by our cells. Turmerones are lipophilic and enhance curcumin’s transport into the intestinal cells. Phospholipids are added to further assist with the absorption and bioavailability of curcumin to our cells. Formulations are available with or without the phospholipids. What is of great importance is choosing the curcumin and turmerone complex known as BCM-95®.

BCM-95® not only delivers more curcumin to the bloodstream, but it sticks around nearly twice as long, too.9

The Bottom Line

So, does curcumin require black pepper for absorption? The answer is no.

Scientists have discovered that it’s possible to increase the bioavailability of curcumin by reconstituting curcumin with the essential oils and other components of the turmeric root. When the curcumin-plus-turmeric is administered, the absorption of curcumin into the bloodstream is nearly 7-fold that of curcumin alone, and 6.3-fold greater than that of a curcumin-lecithin-piperine formula designed to enhance absorption.9

In order to get the most out of this valuable supplement, it is important to select one that has proven high-absorption characteristics. While piperine from black pepper has shown itself to be valuable, the research shows that turmerones are superior not only for the absorption of curcumin but also to provide synergistic health benefits.

BCM-95® is a registered trademark of Dolcas-Biotech, LLC. U.S. Patent Nos. 7,883,728, 7,736,679 and 7,879,373.

References

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3288651/
  2. http://www.fda.gov/ucm/groups/fdagov-public/@fdagov-foods-gen/documents/document/ucm362936.pdf
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18666368
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3904487/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9619120/
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16289744
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17987447
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3282471/
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20046768

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