God, Hope & Helping Others
Most spices have powerful medicinal properties, which is precisely why they’ve been used to promote healing for thousands of years prior to the advent of modern, synthetic drug-based medicine.
One such spice is turmeric, the yellow-pigmented “curry spice” often used in Indian cuisine. Turmeric contains curcumin, the polyphenol identified as its primary active component and which exhibits over 150 potentially therapeutic activities, which include antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.1
Curcumin is capable of crossing the blood-brain barrier, which is one reason why it holds promise as a neuroprotective agent in a wide range of neurological disorders. Researchers have investigated curcumin for its potential role in improving Parkinson’s disease .
Preliminary results indicate that it may hold even more promise than the drugs currently used for this disorder, many of which (ironically) have serious neurotoxic side effects, including dyskinesia – a movement disorder identical to the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
Parkinson’s is a neurodegenerative disease caused by a steady depletion of dopamine-producing nerve cells, particularly in the area of your brain referred to as the substantia nigra. Most of the current drug treatments for Parkinson’s disease, known as dopamine agonists, focus on replenishing dopamine.
Although such treatments provide symptomatic relief during early Parkinson’s disease, they are ineffective in the long term where they may actually increase symptoms such as tremor, postural instability and cognitive deficits that are common with this disease. They are also associated with motor complications and a laundry list of other strange and disturbing side effects, including:
As researchers noted in the journal Current Pharmaceutical Design:2
“Most of the current pharmacotherapeutic approaches in PD [Parkinson's disease] are aimed at replenishing the striatal dopamine. Although these drugs provide symptomatic relief during early PD, many patients develop motor complications with long-term treatment. Further, PD medications do not effectively tackle tremor, postural instability and cognitive deficits.
Most importantly, most of these drugs do not exhibit neuroprotective effects in patients. Consequently, novel therapies involving natural antioxidants and plant products/molecules with neuroprotective properties are being exploited for adjunctive therapy.”
Unlike Parkinson’s drugs, curcumin is neuroprotective and several studies strongly support its use for the treatment of Parkinson’s. For example:
For years now turmeric, and its active ingredient curcumin, have shown powerful benefits to your brain health. One of the ways that it works, similar to vitamin D, is modulating large numbers of your genes; in fact, curcumin has been shown to influence more than 700 genes.
The potential healing power of this spice, which is an important part of Eastern cultural traditions including traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurveda, perhaps first came about when it was noticed that the prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease among older adults in India is more than four times lower than the rate in the United States.
Why such a significant difference?
Some researchers believe the answer for this drastic disparity in Alzheimer’s disease prevalence is a direct result of curcumin. Research has shown that curcumin may help inhibit the accumulation of destructive beta amyloids in the brain of Alzheimer’s patients, as well as break up existing plaques. People with Alzheimer’s tend to have higher levels of inflammation in their brains, and curcumin is perhaps most known for its potent anti-inflammatory properties. The compound can inhibit both the activity and the inflammatory metabolic byproducts of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX2) and 5-lipooxygenase (5-LOX) enzymes, as well as other enzymes and hormones that modulate inflammation.
And that’s not all. The growing interest in curcumin over the past 50 years is understandable when you consider the many health benefits researchers have found when studying this spice. According to an ever-expanding clinical body of studies, curcumin may help:
From my perspective, the preferred test your doctor needs to order is 25(OH)D, also called 25-hydroxyvitamin D, which is the better marker of overall D status. This is the marker that is most strongly associated with overall health. You’ll want to optimize your levels according to the chart below. If you currently have Parkinson’s disease you will want to keep your vitamin D level in the higher 70-100 ng/ml range to help fight the disease.
Animal-based omega-3 fats are also a powerful defense against Parkinson’s, as they contain two fatty acids crucial to human health, DHA and EPA. Most of the neurological benefits of omega-3 oils are derived from the DHA component rather than the EPA component.
In fact, DHA is one of the major building blocks of your brain. About half of your brain and eyes are made up of fat, much of which is DHA — making it an essential nutrient for optimal brain and eye function. Your brain activity actually depends greatly upon the functions provided by its outer, fatty waxy membrane to act as an electrical nerve-conduction cable. In your brain alone, DHA may help to ward off Parkinson’s by:
I believe krill oil is your best option for getting animal-based omega-3 fats because of the fact that the omega-3 is attached to phospholipids that dramatically increase its absorption, especially into brain tissue.
Parkinson’s disease is related to lifestyle factors, including the following:
In addition to avoiding these toxic exposures, I recommend lifestyle adjustments including:
As for getting the full benefits that curcumin has to offer, look for a turmeric extract that contains 100 percent certified organic ingredients, with at least 95 percent curcuminoids. The formula should be free of fillers, additives and excipients (a substance added to the supplement as a processing or stability aid), and the manufacturer should use safe production practices at all stages: planting, cultivation, selective harvesting, and then producing and packaging the final product.
Unfortunately, at the present time there really are no formulations available for the use against cancer. This is because relatively high doses are required and curcumin is not absorbed that well. There is much work being done to provide a bioavailable formulation in the near future.
In the event you need higher doses (such as in the case of treating cancer), use the curcumin powder and make a microemulsion of it by combining a tablespoon of the powder and mixing it into 1-2 egg yolks and a teaspoon or two of melted coconut oil. Then use a high-speed hand blender to emulsify the powder (be careful when doing so as curcumin is a very potent yellow pigment and can permanently discolor surfaces if you aren’t careful).
Another strategy that can help increase absorption is to put one tablespoon of the curcumin powder into a quart of boiling water. It must be boiling when you add the powder; it will not work as well if you put it in room temperature water and heat the water and curcumin. After boiling it for 10 minutes you will have created a 12 percent solution that you can drink once it has cooled down. It will have a woody taste. The curcumin will gradually fall out of the solution, however. In about six hours it will be a 6 percent solution, so it’s best to drink the water within four hours.