Jul 02, 2011 - 10:26 pm
Have been following the interchange between Claudia and JoAnn on efficacy of curcumin and want to thank them both, for we need both kinds of perspective whenever a promising new supplement is touted as a near godsend.
Long an admirer of Claudia's passion for nutriitional research and her instinct that "nature knows best," I suspect that turmeric--despite its low residue of curcumin--may indeed be a potent source of delivery precisely because it's packaged in its natural form. In a brilliant NY Times article a year ago, researcher Michael Pollan analyzed how micronutrients found in vegetables are rarely, when extracted in the form of supplements, as therapeutic as in their original form. For in distilling them, we have self-deludedly removed the phytochemicals that work synergistically with that element to make it potent. So those cooking with turmeric (especially adding olive oil and pepper) may well be receiving a potent source of its therapeutic power.
On the subject of curcumin as a capsule, yes, absorbability has been a challenge but not, I think, the eficacy of curcumin itself. Two early studies (2000-2003) did conclude that curcumin impeded the efficacy of certain chemo regimens. However, most recent ones have concluded the opposite, some even finding that curcumin can reduce resistance to such chemo regimens as taxol and carboplatin.
Despite these findings, I do sympathize with Jo Ann's exasperation with the promotion of so many "supplements du jour"--many of them, let's be honest, not well supported by clinical studies: the work of charlatans seeking to exploit the hunger for remedies less toxic than chemo and radiation. Her finding that Aggarwal, a chief researcher at MD Anderson just might be gaining profit from his own research, is one that I, despite my reluctwill consider carefully. (I'd like the date of that Scientific American article, however.) However, I'd also like to think, with Claudia, that he may have founded a new company precisely because absorbability continues to be a problem.
Thanks to both of them for creating a balanced picture, reminding us of the need to be hopeful yet also retain healthy skepticism.