There is a vast number of published studies on Curcumin as an effective therapy for a diverse array of health conditions. For many years the focus of this research has been exclusively on Curcumin as an extract of the plant Turmeric. Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a rhizomatous herbaceous perennial plant of the ginger family, Zingiberaceae and is native to southwest India.
Despite the fact that Curcumin is a powerful component and extract of turmeric root, there recently have been additional identified chemicals in turmeric root that provide health benefits. In fact, there have been identified up to 235 compounds in turmeric. 1 Some of the more important compounds are listed below:
- curcumin (diferuloylmethane) (constitutes 3.14% (on average) of powdered turmeric) 2
- demethoxycurcumin (DMC)
- bisdemethoxycurcumin (BDMC)
- tetrahydrocurcumin (THC)
- Turmerones (volatile oils)
- ukonan A, B, C, and D 3
- α-phellandrene and β-sesquiphellandrene
- α and β-pinene
- α-terpineol, γ-terpinene, and terpineol
- Farnesol, α-farnesene, and β-farnesene
- Geraniol and geranylgeranoic acid
- Germacrane/germacrone compounds (including curdione)
- ρ-Coumaric acid
Use of Turmeric Root Extract and Curcumin
In the past few years, more research has started to look at a group of molecules known as turmerones, and has uncovered a number of impressive benefits not seen when research looked exclusively at curcumin.
The essential oil from Curcuma longa L. was analyzed by gas chromatography – mass spectrometry. The major components of the oil were: 6
- ar-turmerone (33.2%)
- α-turmerone (23.5%)
- β-turmerone (22.7%)
In another study, the ar-turmerone amount in turmeric essential oils was found to be as high as 62%. Thus, in some samples of whole turmeric, the amount of turmerone approaches that of curcumin. 7
A study from March 2012 demonstrated that the presence of turmerones did affect the absorption of curcumin in vitro. These findings suggest the potential use of turmeric extract (including curcumin and turmerones), rather than curcumin alone, for treating diseases. Thus, combining a highly-bioavailable form of Curcumin with these turmerones (turmeric root extract) not only supports curcumin absorption, but significantly increases cellular curcumin concentrations. 8
Since there currently are no supplements that contain turmerones, it is best to consume whole turmeric root extract (powder) available in capsule form.
Haldi Ka Doodh: An alternative to supplemental turmeric root extract
Haldi Ka Doodh, which translates to “Turmeric (Haldi) Milk (Doodh) has been used for centuries in India as a means to consume turmeric root powder. It is also sometimes known as “Golden Milk”.
In India, people would make this Golden Milk when they had a cold or the flu or even when they had a sore throat. They obtained relief from the warm milk and the medicinal properties of the turmeric root.
The recipe is quite simple. The following version of the recipe has been enhanced by adding ground pepper for greater bioavailability of the turmeric root powder and honey to counter the bitter taste of the turmeric root powder.
Directions to make Haldi Ka Doodh:
Step 1: Turmeric Paste:
1/4 cup of organic turmeric powder 1/2 teaspoon of organic ground pepper (The addition of black pepper to turmeric powder increases the bioavailability of turmeric by 2000%.) 9 1/2 cup of filtered water
Mix all ingredients in a small a small sauce pan and mix well. Turn the heat to medium high and stir constantly until the mixture is a thick paste. This does not take long so don’t walk away from the pan.
Step 2: Golden Milk
1 cup of organic whole (not non-fat) milk (almond/hemp/coconut are also good options) 1 teaspoon of organic coconut oil 1/4 teaspoon or more of turmeric paste Organic honey
Combine all the ingredients, except honey in a saucepan. Turn the heat to medium. While heating make sure to stir constantly and do not allow the mixture to boil. Add honey to taste. Make sure that the milk used is full fat milk and not non-fat or low-fat milk. Turmeric is fat soluble and needs the fat for greater bioavailability. This is why coconut oil is used, to enhance bioavailability.
Turmerones Possess Many Promising Health Benefits
There has been a considerable amount of research on the group of molecules known as turmerones, which are the active volatile oils from turmeric root extract. The research and published studies have discovered a number of impressive benefits from turmerones.
The Table below lists a majority of these published studies on turmerones:
Health Benefits of Turmerones from Turmeric Root
Turmerones Condition Health Effect (Abstract) References
Increases proliferation of neural stem cells Rats injected with ar-turmerone showed both increased proliferation of NSC's (more total neural stem cells) and increased neurogenesis (more NSC's turning into neurons). Additionally, NSC's in the rats were found to mobilize to other areas of the brain at a greater rate in the presence of ar-turmerone, allowing for stem cells to move from the subventicular zone (where the greatest concentrations of NSC's are found) to other areas of the brain. 1
Turmeric encourages brain repair Both in vitro and in vivo data suggest that ar-turmerone induces NSC proliferation. Ar-turmerone thus constitutes a promising candidate to support regeneration in neurologic disease. 2
Anti-inflammatory in the brain Ar-turmerone inhibited the phosphorylation and degradation of IκB-α as well as the phosphorylation of JNK and p38 MAPK. These results suggest that ar-turmerone impaired the Aβ-induced inflammatory response of microglial cells by inhibiting the NF-κB, JNK, and p38 MAPK signaling pathways. Lastly, ar-turmerone protected hippocampal HT-22 cells from indirect neuronal toxicity induced by activated microglial cells. These novel findings provide new insights into the development of ar-turmerone as a therapeutic agent for the treatment of neurodegenerative disorders 3
Reduces Beta-Amyloid and Phosphoylated Tau Protein Optimized Turmeric Extract Reduces β-Amyloid and Phosphorylated Tau Protein Burden in Alzheimer’s Transgenic Mice. The findings reveal that the optimized turmeric extract HSS-888 represents an important step in botanical based therapies for Alzheimer’s disease by inhibiting or improving plaque Inhibition of beta-amyloid (A beta) accumulation and A beta fibril (fA beta) formation from A beta are attractive therapeutic targets for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease (AD). While previous studies have shown anti-amyloidogenic effects of curcumin in vitro and in vivo, no studies have examined optimized turmeric extracts enriched in curcuminoids or turmerones. burden, Tau phosphorylation, and microglial inflammation leading to neuronal toxicity 4
Inhibits beta-amyloid accumulation and A beta fibril formation Inhibition of beta-amyloid (A beta) accumulation and A beta fibril (fA beta) formation from A beta are attractive therapeutic targets for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease (AD). While previous studies have shown anti-amyloidogenic effects of curcumin in vitro and in vivo, no studies have examined optimized turmeric extracts enriched in curcuminoids or turmerones. However, HSS-888 showed strong inhibition of A beta aggregation and secretion, thus indicating that there are novel bioactive molecules in this extract that might be important leads for future AD drug discovery efforts. 5
Neuroprotective The potential role of curcumin as a preventive agent against brain aging and neurodegenerative disorders has been recently reinforced by epidemiological studies showing that in India, where this spice is widely used in the daily diet, there is a lower incidence of Alzheimer's disease than in the USA. These studies identify a novel class of compounds that could be used for therapeutic purposes as preventive agents against the acute neurodegenerative conditions that affect many in the world's increasingly ageing population. 6
Anti-inflammatory and antinociceptive activities as antioxidant Oral administration of turmeric oil for one month to mice significantly increased superoxide dismutase, glutathione, and glutathione reductase enzyme levels in blood and glutathione-S-transferase and superoxide dismutase enzymes in liver. Turmeric oil showed significant reduction in paw thickness in carrageenan, dextran-induced acute inflammation, and formalin-induced chronic inflammation. The drug produced significant antinociceptive activity (P < 0.001) at all doses studied. Conclusions : These results demonstrated that turmeric oil has potential health benefits as it can scavenge the free radicals and produce significant anti-inflammatory and antinociceptive activities. 7
Chemopreventive agent Both α-turmerone and aromatic-turmerone showed stimulatory effects on PBMC proliferation and cytokine production. The anti-proliferative effect of α-turmerone and immunomodulatory activities of ar-turmerone was shown for the first time. The findings revealed the potential use of CL crude extract (containing curcuminoids and volatile oil including turmerones) as chemopreventive agent. 8
Chemopreventive agent The modulating effects of turmeric (T), ethanolic turmeric extract (ETE) and curcumin-free aqueous turmeric extract (CFATE) on the initiation or post-initiation phases of DMBA-induced mammary tumorigenesis were investigated in female Sprague–Dawley rats. The present data clearly indicate that dietary administration of T/ETE showed strong chemopreventive activity during initiation as well as post-initiation phases of DMBA-induced rat mammary tumorigenesis while CFATE was found to be weakly active only when it was administered during the post-initiation phase. 9
Inhibits chemical carcinogenesis Turmeric (Curcuma longa Linn.) has been shown to inhibit chemical carcinogenesis. In this study, we compared the chemopreventive efficacy of an aqueous turmeric extract (AqTE) and its constituents, curcumin-free aqueous turmeric extract (CFAqTE) and curcumin, using theSalmonella typhimurium mutagenicity assay and the bone marrow micronucleus test in female Swiss mice. These data indicate that the protection against genomic damage by turmeric extract and its components tested could be necessary for some aspects of its cancer chemoprevention. 10
Colon cancer preventative We recently reported that ar-turmerone (ATM) suppressed nitric oxide (NO) generation in macrophages. In the present study, we explored the molecular mechanisms by which ATM attenuates NO generation and examined the anti-carcinogenesis activity of turmerones (TUR, a mixture of 5 sesquiterpenes including ATM). Collectively, our results led to our hypothesis that TUR is a novel candidate for colon cancer prevention. Furthermore, we consider that its use in combination with CUR may become a powerful method for prevention of inflammation-associated colon carcinogenesis. 11
Anti-tumorigenesis activity through apoptosis Aromatic (ar)-turmerone from turmeric oil displays anti-tumorigenesis activity that includes inhibited cell proliferation. This study investigated ar-turmerone-mediated apoptotic protein activation in human lymphoma U937 cells. These results suggest that the apoptotic effect of ar-turmerone on U937 cells may involve caspase-3 activation through the induction of Bax and p53, rather than Bcl-2 and p21. 12
Inhibited breast cancer formation In the present study, we investigated the inhibitory effects of ar-turmerone on expression and enzymatic activity levels of 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate (TPA)-induced matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-9 and cyclooxygenaase-2 (COX-2) in breast cancer cells. Our data indicated that ar-turmerone treatment significantly inhibited enzymatic activity and expression of MMP-9 and COX-2 at non-cytotoxic concentrations. These results suggest that ar-turmerone suppressed the TPA-induced up-regulation of MMP-9 and COX-2 expression by blocking NF-κB, PI3K/Akt, and ERK1/2 signaling in human breast cancer cells. Furthermore, ar-turmerone significantly inhibited TPA-induced invasion, migration, and colony formation in human breast cancer cells. 13
Anti-neuroinflammatory properties Here, we investigated the anti-neuroinflammatory properties of ar-turmerone in LPS-stimulated BV-2 microglial cells. Increased pro-inflammatory cytokines and chemokines, PGE(2), NO and ROS production and MMP-9 enzymatic activity in LPS-stimulated microglial cells was inhibited by ar-turmerone. Overall, the results of this study demonstrate that HO-1 and its upstream effectors PKA play a pivotal role in the anti-neuroinflammatory response of ar-turmerone in LPS-stimulated microglia. 14
Anti-bacterial The major components of ginger, turmeric, galangal, bastard cardamom and kaempferia were zingiberene, turmerone, methyl chavicol, and gamma-terpinene, respectively. Their antibacterial effects towards Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus cereus and Listeria monocytogenes were tested by a disc diffusion assay. 15
Leukemia We have investigated the effects of ar-turmerone isolated from turmeric (Curcuma longa L) on DNA of human leukemia cell lines, Molt 4B, HL-60 and stomach cancer KATO III cells. It was found that selective induction of apoptosis by ar-turmerone was observed in human leukemia Molt 4B and HL-60 cells, but not in human stomach cancer KATO III cells. The data of the present study show that the suppression by ar-turmerone of growth of these leukemia cell lines results from the induction of apoptosis by this compound. 16
Antimutagenic Turmeric oil and its fractions were tested for antioxidant activity using the beta-carotene-linoleate model system and the phosphomolybdenum method. The fraction III showed maximum antioxidant capacity. These fractions were also used to determine their protective effect against the mutagenicity of sodium azide by means of the Ames test. All the fractions and turmeric oil exhibited a markedly antimutagenicity but fraction III was the most effective. The antioxidant effects of turmeric oil and its fractions may provide an explanation for their antimutagenic action. 17
Antioxidant Turmeric oil and its fractions were tested for antioxidant activity using the beta-carotene-linoleate model system and the phosphomolybdenum method. The fraction III showed maximum antioxidant capacity. These fractions were also used to determine their protective effect against the mutagenicity of sodium azide by means of the Ames test. All the fractions and turmeric oil exhibited a markedly antimutagenicity but fraction III was the most effective. The antioxidant effects of turmeric oil and its fractions may provide an explanation for their antimutagenic action. 18
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