Curcumin general info


A search on Pubmed for Curcumin/Curcuma/Turmeric/Curcuminoids turns up 7.153 results…. just Googling 'Curcumin' will give you so many websites that have just copied each other's information with no known source and I don't like to use that, since many stories going around the internet are incorrect, so where to start? I found a book online called "The Molecular Targets and Therapeutic Uses of Curcumin in Health and Disease", by Bharat Aggarwal, 2007 and I've copied most relevant information from it. Unfortunately it is not about Curcumin and CF in particular, but it is the best general information I could find that could help us understand Curcumin's benefits for CF.

It's a technical review and to be honest, I do not understand all of it (yet), but I'm close…. just skip what you don't understand but keep reading because I'm sure in the end you'll understand why it is a very good idea to take this supplement if you have CF.


Turmeric, derived from the rhizome of the plant Curcuma Longa, is a gold-colored spice commonly used in the Indian subcontinent, not only for health care but also for the preservation of food and as a yellow dye for textiles.
The history of Curcumin goes back over 5000 years, to the heyday of Ayurveda (which means the science of long life) and Turmeric has been used for centuries with no known side effects, not only as a component of food but also to treat a wide variety of ailments. Turmeric was mentioned in the writings of Marco Polo concerning his 1280 journey to China and India and it was first introduced to Europe in the 13th century by Arab traders. Although Vasco de Gama (a Portuguese sailor) during the 15th century, after his visit to India, truly introduced spices to the West, it was during the rule of the British in India that turmeric was combined with various other spices and renamed "curry powder", as it is called in the West.

Since the time of Ayurveda (1900BC) numerous therapeutic activities have been assigned to turmeric for a wide variety of diseases and conditions, including those of the skin, pulmonary, and gastrointestinal systems, aches, pains, wounds, sprains, and liver disorders. Extensive research within the last half century has proven that most of these activities, once associated with turmeric, are due to curcumin. Curcumin, which gives the yellow color to turmeric, was first isolated almost two centuries ago, and it's molecular structure was determined in 1910. Curcumin has been shown to exhibit antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial, anti fungal, and anticancer activities and thus has a potential against various malignant diseases, diabetes, allergies, arthritis, Alzheimer's disease, and other chronic illnesses. These effects are mediated through regulation of various processes in the human body.

So the name of the plant is Curcuma Longa, the spice derived from the plant is Turmeric and Curcumin is extracted from Turmeric (about 3%).

What is there in turmeric that has therapeutic potential, how does this substance mediate its effects, with what types of receptors does it interact, and for what type of diseases is it effective?
Turmeric contains a wide variety of phytochemicals, including curcumin, demethoxycurcumin, bisdemethoxycurcumin. Curcumin is the phytochemical that gives a yellow color to turmeric and is now recognized as being responsible for most of the therapeutic effects. It is estimated that 2-5% of turmeric is curcumin. Curcumin is hydrophobic in nature and frequently soluble in acetone, ethanol and oils. When exposed to acidic conditions, the color of turmeric/curcumin turns from yellow to deep red, the form in which it is used routinely for various religious ceremonies.

As indicated earlier, turmeric contains three different analogues of curcumin (curcumin, demethoxycurcumin and bisdemethoxycurcumin). Whether all three analogues exhibit equal activity is not clear. Although in most systems curcumin was found to be most potent, in some systems bisdemethoxycurcumin was found to exhibit higher activity. There are also suggestions that the mixture of all three is more potent than either one alone. When administered orally, curcumin is metabolized into curcumin glucuronide and curcumin sulfonate.
It is now well recognized that most chronic diseases are the result of dis-regulated inflammation. Turmeric has been traditionally described as an anti-inflammatory agent. Recent scientific evidence has indeed demonstrated that turmeric, and curcumin in particular, exhibits potent anti-inflammatory activities as determined by a wide variety of systems. Therefore, it is not too surprising that turmeric displays activities against a variety of diseases. Because curcumin also exhibits potent antioxidant activity, whether the anti-inflammatory activity is mediated through its antioxidant mechanism is not clear. Since most well-characterized antioxidants do not exhibit anti-inflammatory activity, it is unlikely that the anti-inflammatory activity of curcumin is due to its antioxidant activity.



Potential uses of Curcumin based on modern technology


Persistent airway inflammation begins at a very early stage in patients with CF and continues throughout life. Uncontrolled, chronic inflammation directly damages the airway wall, ultimately leading to bronchiectasis and progressive decline in pulmonary function. Controlling the inflammatory process early in the course of disease may limit the damaging effects of excessive inflammation, thus delaying progression of pulmonary deterioration.

Numerous lines of evidence suggest that curcumin is a potent anti-inflammatory agent. First, curcumin suppresses the activation of the transcription factor NF-kB, which regulates the expression of pro-inflammatory gene products. Second, curcumin down regulates the expression of COX-2, an enzyme linked with most types of inflammations. Third, curcumin inhibits the expression of another pro-inflammatory enzyme, 5-LOX. Additionally, curcumin has been shown to bind to the active site of 5-LOX and inhibit its activity. Fourth, curcumin down regulates the expression of various cell surface adhesion molecules that have been linked with inflammation. Fifth, curcumin down regulates the expression of various inflammatory cytokines, including TNF, IL-1, IL-6, IL-8 and chemokines. Sixth, curcumin has been shown to inhibit the action of TNF, one of the most pro-inflammatory cytokines. Seventh, curcumin is a potent antioxidant, which might contribute to its anti-inflammatory action. All of this recent evidence confirms the anti-inflammatory action of curcumin, known for thousands of years. Its pharmacological safety combined with its anti-inflammatory action makes it an ideal agent to explore for preventive and therapeutic situations.


Whereas pro-oxidants are considered mediators of numerous diseases antioxidants are generally believed to delay or halt the disease. However, this paradigm is not always valid, as most cytokines mediate their effects through pro-oxidant mechanisms. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) also play an important role in cell-meditated cytotoxicity (CMC) of the immune system. Numerous reports indicate that curcumin could mediate both pro-oxidant and antioxidant roles. First, curcumin could induce the expression of ROS, which plays an important role in the antiproliferative effects of this molecule. Also curcumin suppresses lipid peroxidation. Curcumin increases the expression of intracellular glutathione (=mucus thinning). Curcumin could also play and antioxidant role through its ability to bind iron (bacteria feed on iron). All of these reports combined suggest the ability of curcumin to modulate the redox status of the cells. 

It has been nearly 50 years since it was suggested that free radicals produced during aerobic respiration cause cumulative oxygen damage, resulting in aging and death.


Oxygen is an essential molecule for all aerobic forms; however, oxygen plays univalent roles. Although oxygen is indispensable for all cells for chemical energy production (ATP), it is also often transformed into highly reactive forms: reactive oxygen species (ROS) (think rust!), which are often toxic to cells. Approximately 2% of the oxygen forms superoxide (O2-) or peroxide (H2O2). Superoxide and peroxide react with metal ions to promote additional radical generation, particularly with the generation of hydroxyl radicals. The hydroxyl radicals react with all components of the cell, including lipid membrance, DNA and proteins.
Nitric oxide (NO) is also a free-radical species. NO is involved physiologically in vasorelaxation, neurotransmission, immune defense and intracellular signaling. However, NO reacts with O2- to form peroxynitrite (ONOO-), which is a powerful oxidant. NO bioactivity is related to the production of many reactive intermediates, but many of these reactive nitrogen species (RNS) are capable of damaging DNA or hindering DNA repair. It is now beyond doubt that oxidants are generated in vivo and can cause significant damage to cells.

(so as Curcumin is a strong ANTI-oxidant, it is a really good thing!)

(the story than continues mainly about the anti cancer action of curcumin, but later about Curcumin and the lungs, where I pick it up again)


The aim of this review has been to describe the current state of the therapeutic potential of curcumin in acute and chronic lung injuries. 

Despite major advances in treating lung diseases, until now disease-modifying efficacy has not been demonstrated for any of the existing drugs. Current medical therapy offers only marginal benefit; therefore, there is an essential need to develop new drugs that might be of effective benefit in clinical settings. Over the years, there has been increasing evidence that curcumin, a phytochemical present in turmeric (Curcuma Longa), has a wide spectrum of therapeutic properties and a remarkable range of protective effects in various diseases. 

Several experimental animal models have tested curcumin on lung fibrosis and these studies demonstrate that curcumin attenuates lung injury and fibrosis caused by radiation chemotherapeutic drug and toxicants. The growing amount of data from pharmacological and animal studies also supports the notions that curcumin plays a protective role in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, acute lung injury, acute respiratory distress syndrome and allergic asthma, its therapeutic action being on the prevention or modulation of inflammation and oxidative stress. These findings give substance to the possibility of testing curcumin in patients with lung diseases.

The lungs are responsible for the vital process termed 'gas exchange,' wherein the tiny air sac-like structures, alveoli, take oxygen into the lungs and drive out carbon dioxide. Thus, any substance that is breathed in affects the lungs, and many of these substances can be dangerous and intimidate the lungs' ability to function properly.

Occupational and environmental exposures to mineral dusts, airborne pollutants, cigarette smoke, pharmacologic therapy with anticancer drugs, and radiotherapy injure the lungs in various fashions, resulting in acute and chronic inflammatory lung diseases, including lung fibrosis, allergic asthma, acute lung injury, acute respiratory distress syndrome, and obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)/emphysema. 

These types of lung disease pose a significant health risk to humans and are associated with high morbidity and mortality. Although major advances exist in the field of treatment of lung diseases, the incidence of acute and chronic inflammatory lung diseases continue to rise, causing significant worries to the patients and clinicians alike. A variety of new medications have appeared for the treatment of acute and chronic lung injuries and new research on traditional therapies has been performed. However, until now disease-modifying efficacy has not been demonstrated for nay of the existing drug. Preclinical and clinical research shows that modern anti-inflammatory therapy is effective in that it gradually reduces inflammatory response, but with significant toxic side effects, which is no longer a sufficient end point for therapy. Therefore, there is an imperative need to develop new drugs that have broad-based anti-inflammatory properties plus a safety profile.

Over the past several years, there is a renewed interest in alternative inexpensive therapies without any apparent toxic effects. In this regard, curcumin, a natural phytochemical present in turmeric (Curcuma longa), is noted for its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, chemo preventive, and chemotherapeutic properties. Curcumin has a wide spectrum of therapeutic properties and a remarkable range of protective effects in various diseases; therefore, it is pertinent to state what actions it does not have than to say what it does to various disease processes. The therapeutic utility of curcumin has undergone a swift development during the last decade and several biochemical, pharmacological, and clinical aspects have been previously reviewed. 

The growing amount of data from pharmacological and animal studies supports the notion that curcumin plays a protective role not only in lung fibrosis, but also in COPD, acute lung injury, and allergic asthma, its therapeutic action being on the prevention or repression of the inflammatory response and oxidative stress. 

Lab studies:

rats oral treatment: 
Lung glutathione levels -> up
Lipid peroxidation -> down
Influx inflammatory cells -> down
Lung anti oxidant defense -> up
Anti oxidant status -> up

Guinea pig oral treatment:
Allergic airway constriction and airway hyperreactivity -> down

In summary, substantial amounts of evidence provide adequate reasons to suggest that, in all probability, curcumin can be considered an alternative nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug for inflammatory lung diseases. Studies on experimental animal models clearly demonstrate that curcumin largely prevented the pulmonary dysfunction and attenuated organ damage. Moreover, the
se findings suggest that it is feasible to develop a curcumin-based therapeutic strategy for human lung diseases, particularly pulmonary fibrosis, through the application of the knowledge acquired from the animal studies using curcumin. Further, the potential use of curcumin in experimental models of other lung diseases such as COPD, ALI (acute lung injury), and asthma is obvious. Interestingly, there are certain attributes common to these lung injuries, namely inflammation, oxidative stress, and tissue remodeling, which are important therapeutic targets for curcumin-mediated pulmonary protection. An added advantage of curcumin is that it is nontoxic and a natural product with an excellent safety profile. Unfortunately curcumin has not yet been tested in human lung diseases. However, in order to make concrete recommendations for the evaluation of curcumin in patients with lung diseases, not only will more studies be warranted to test curcumin at various stages of disease progression, but also its mechanism(s) leading to significant protection still remains to be elucidated. Finally, as your knowledge of curcumin's mechanisms expands, a combination of other treatment approaches could be applied to increase curcumin's efficacy in human lung injuries.

(So this is from a book by Bharat Aggarwal, general information on Curcumin. I will now continue studying/researching Curcumin and CFTR and will write a page like the one on Genistein and CFTR. To be continued……)

Please see the top right hand side for links to other pages or click here:
Our story
Why I started Curcumin and Genistein in the first place
How to start?
What to expect?
Early results
What else do we do/use?
CFTR and Genistein
Curcumin general info

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