January 25th, 2017 marks the day of Bell’s Let’s Talk annual campaign to raise awareness and end the stigma associated with mental illness. This massively successful campaign has helped to open the conversation surrounding mental health and as a result millions of people feel less alone after finding resources to deal with their illness. We recognize the importance of this day as well as the need to keep the conversation going year-round; to shed light on the stigma surrounding mental illness and strategies to help you, or a loved one, get the help needed to live a healthy life. There
The natural product industry is booming! With our aging population, and increased rates of obesity, diabetes, and autoimmune conditions, we are now facing new and complex medical problems. New treatments are required to keep up with these diverse health problems. Natural products offer a new alternative or can complement standard medical treatments. However, with this boom in the natural products, the multitude of products on the market can be overwhelming. Such is the case with many curcumin products.
Consumers familiar with curcumin will know that there are a plethora of health products containing this ingredient on the market, and it can be difficult to choose the right one.
Curcumin is a substance in the turmeric plant (Curcuma longa), a spice commonly used in East Asian curry dishes. Curcumin is responsible for the distinct yellow colouring of these dishes. A substantial amount of research (pre-clinical and human clinical trials) have highlighted the health-promoting effects of curcumin, namely its role as an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and pain-relieving agent. Furthermore, curcumin has been shown to promote liver, kidney and heart health. It is no wonder that the demand for curcumin products is so high.
Biochemical analysis has shown that curcumin is insoluble in
water and gastrointestinal fluid, is rapidly metabolized, is poorly absorbed by cells, has poor blood brain barrier (BBB) permeability and is rapidly eliminated from the body. All of these factors limit its use as an efficient natural therapeutic agent. As such, the focus has shifted to developing more effective mechanisms of curcumin delivery, so we can reap its multitude of therapeutic benefits.
Curcumin exists in two forms: conjugated and unconjugated (free-form). Various reports have highlighted that the conjugated curcumin metabolites possess low bioavailability (plasma concentration) and bioactivity (therapeutic effects), in contrast to the free-form. This means that the free-form is more likely to get into the blood at concentrations high enough to have an effect on tissues. Despite this knowledge, food-grade formulations capable of providing therapeutically significant levels of free curcuminoids are limited. As such, the unconjugated and less effective form of curcumin continues to flood the market. Many curcumin products that are on the market are going to have minimal health benefits because they are not even getting into the blood and are not in the free-form! Reading the ingredients list carefully and looking at the research is so important.
The unique combination of free-form curcuminoids (CurQfen®) with water-soluble turmeric polysaccharides (Turmacin®) is gaining some traction in the scientific community. This new formulation not only combats the issues most curcumin products on the market face, such a poor bioavailability and cell permeability and rapid metabolism and elimination from the body, but it also provides the highest levels of bioactive free-form curcuminoids on the market!
CurQfen® is a new enhanced bioavailable curcumin formulation using fenugreek-derived soluble dietary fibre containing galactomannans. In human clinical trial of 50 patients, the bioavailability of CurQfen® was compared to standard curcumin and plasma concentration (bioavailability) was measured. The authors found that at two different concentrations (1000 mg and 250 mg), the plasma concentration of free-form curcumin was higher in patients treated with CurQfen® at both doses. The plasma levels are also the highest concentration of free-curcuminoids published (2.274 μg/mL.h). Finally, this study was the first to report the ratio of conjugated to free-form, which was approximately 1:3, indicating a significant distribution of free-form curcumin! So we know that CurQfen® is bioavailable as its getting to the blood stream. Other curcumin products have also shown this. But how can we be sure that the free-form curcumin is having an effect?
Pre-clinical studies in rats, showed that oral administration of CurQfen® resulted in increased plasma concentration, improved BBB permeability, and increased tissue distribution and uptake in the heart, liver, kidney and spleen. Despite many other curcumin products claiming increased bioavailability (higher plasma concentrations), studies using these products have not been completed to show the uptake of curcumin by various tissues and organs in the body. That is, some products may be more bioavailable, but not necessarily more bio-accessible. Bio-accessibility is a relatively new term but has huge clinical implications in that high concentrations in the plasma is one thing but if the substance cannot get into the tissues where it is needed to fight inflammation, neutralize free radicals, repair the tissues and restore cellular metabolism, then high plasma concentrations is of little value. This is the first report on tissue distribution kinetics of free-form curcumin, showing actual uptake of CurQfen® by various tissues in the body!
Despite being water-dispersible, CurQfen® is not water-soluble. However, combining CurQfen® with Turmacin®, another novel ingredient providing water-soluble turmeric polysaccharides, further improves the bioavailability of free-form curcuminoids. Animal study has shown that indeed there is a 10-fold improvement in the bioavailability of curcuminoids. The water soluble polysaccharides of Turmacin® seem to “coat” the CurQfen-galactomannan complexes to make them even more water soluble and thus greatly improving the bioavailability.
Preliminary clinical trials with Turmacin® in osteoarthritic patients have shown promising results. In a randomized, single-blind, placebo controlled trial, the effects of Turmacin® alone was compared to placebo (800 mg/day) over a 42 day period. Osteoarthritis patients showed the symptom improvement (measured by physical performance, questionnaires and clinician assessment) when given Turmacin® over time. Turmacin® was well-tolerated and no adverse reactions associated with treatment was reported. In animal studies, Turmacin® has shown a reduction in inflammatory agents (interleukin-12 and PGE2) and stimulation of anti-inflammatory factors (interleukin-10).
Due to the unique and novel bioactive substances in AOR’s Curcumin Ultra, the product works to combat a multitude of conditions including acute and chronic pain and inflammation. Curcumin Ultra is uniquely fast-acting and has increased stability in comparison to other curcumin products on the market, meaning Curcumin Ultra can stay in the blood for over 24 hours!