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Functional Medicine Explained
Categories: Nerve Injury Neuropathy

Functional Neurology: How Curcumin Helps Reduce Inflammation

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How often do you feel more susceptible to pain, discomfort, and inflammation? Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that affects about 0.5 to 1.0 percent of the adult population throughout the world. Evidence suggests that the autonomic nervous system (ANS) plays a fundamental role in the management of an abnormal immune response and inhibition of inflammation. The ANS regulates cytokine production through the cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway, including the efferent vagus nerve, the neurotransmitter ACh, and its receptors (α7 nicotinic ACh receptor, α7 nAChR).

Turmeric, or curcumin, has historically been utilized as a spice and a medicinal herb in India and China. Evidence suggests that curcumin affects diverse bioactivities. In recent years, a variety of research studies have shown that consuming curcumin considerably ameliorated collagen-induced arthritis (CIA). A clinical trial has shown that curcumin is a safe and effective natural remedy for RA patients. However, pharmacokinetic research studies have shown that its bioavailability can be very poor which raises the question, how does curcumin, or turmeric, produce an anti-inflammatory effect?

Curcumin, the Gut-Brain Axis, and Inflammation

Researchers believe that they have found how curcumin, or the natural phenol compounds found in turmeric, can ultimately help reduce inflammation. Curcumin-containing turmeric is commonly given to horses by their owners due to its perceived anti-inflammatory properties. As a matter of fact, researchers have shown the ability of curcuminoids to reduce inflammation in aging horses. In one research study, researchers writing in the Journal of Neuroinflammation described their findings with rats that had collagen-induced arthritis to learn more about the performance of curcumin. The research team stated that several research studies had shown that taking curcumin by mouth reduced collagen-induced arthritis.

During another clinical trial, the findings had shown that curcumin was safe and effective for patients with rheumatoid arthritis. However, the research study had also shown that its bioavailability was poor, which raised questions about how curcumin produced its anti-inflammatory effect. They then evaluated whether the gut-brain axis was involved in its therapeutic action. The researchers found that curcumin reduced collagen-induced arthritis through the gut-brain axis by controlling the function of the cholinergic system. The cholinergic system consists of nerve cells that utilize the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. It is associated with cognition, memory, selective attention, and emotional processing.

The research study team believes that targeting the gut cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway could be a promising treatment approach for rheumatoid arthritis patients as well as with other inflammatory disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome, characterized by an imbalanced autonomic nervous system. Previous research studies also suggested that curcumin activated its effects in a gut-dependent way. The gut is a sensory organ, which sends signals from the lumen to the central nervous system, which in turn sends signals to peripheral tissues or organs. Surprisingly, recent research studies ultimately show that curcumin has regulatory effects on the gut microbiota in several circumstances and that the gut microbiota is involved in the development of arthritis. “It is possible that curcumin affects the cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway through the gut-brain axis via modulation of the gut microbiota”, stated the research study team.

How Turmeric Changes the Gut Microbiome

Further research studies are still required to continue to explain the turmeric paradox: efficacy despite poor bioavailability. One possible hypothesis as to how curcumin and turmeric change the gut microbiome, according to the first human clinical research study evaluating its effects, is that the gastrointestinal effects of the spice may have wider-reaching systemic effects. Previous research studies show that curcumin can considerably alter gut microbiota where these alterations of the composition and/ or metabolic activity of gut bacteria may in part explain the therapeutic benefits of curcumin.

To demonstrate how curcumin alters gut bacteria in humans, a research study involved a group of people taking turmeric (3000 mg turmeric root plus 3.75 mg black pepper–derived extract of piperine alkaloid [BioPerine]), curcumin (3000 mg of curcumin [Curcumin C3 Complex] plus 3.75 mg BioPerine) or placebo, twice daily for 8-weeks. Utilizing gut microbial DNA sequencing it was found that both turmeric and curcumin changed the gut microbiota in a highly similar manner, with the research study team suggesting that curcumin may drive the majority of changes observed in turmeric-treated subjects.

Overall, turmeric and curcumin increased bacterial species richness. Surprisingly, although the gut microbiota response was highly individual, there were several concordances in response to turmeric/ curcumin. “Responsive” subjects had a similar microbial signature involving uniform increases in species of polysaccharide-degrading and hydrogen-consuming bacteria.

“This research study in healthy subjects has potentially raised more intriguing questions than it has fully answered and emphasizes the complexity of human intervention research studies intending to evaluate the effects of these potentially powerful herbal medicines,” stated the research study investigators. One hypothesis they suggest is that individual variations in turmeric absorption may result in the observed variations in prebiotic-like effects. “Future research studies that include a larger human cohort will clarify whether the responsive microbiota we identified here is representative and whether less prevalent response signatures in our data may be clearly defined with additional participants,” they concluded.

If there is definitely a fundamental role of the gut microbiome in regulating individual responses to turmeric and/ or curcumin more research studies in this field could help support the understanding of its health benefits in the context of personalized nutrition, especially for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients, among patients with inflammatory health issues.

Turmeric, or curcumin, is a powerful, natural remedy which has been demonstrated to have many health benefits, especially for brain health. According to many research studies, turmeric or curcumin can help reduce inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), among that of other inflammatory diseases. Although further research studies are still required to establish this as a fact, the current findings suggest that curcumin, or turmeric, is a safe and effective treatment for chronic inflammation. – Dr. Alex Jimenez D.C., C.C.S.T. Insight


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How often do you feel more susceptible to pain, discomfort, and inflammation? Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that affects about 0.5 to 1.0 percent of the adult population throughout the world. Evidence suggests that the autonomic nervous system (ANS) plays a fundamental role in the management of an abnormal immune response and inhibition of inflammation. The ANS regulates cytokine production through the cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway, including the efferent vagus nerve, the neurotransmitter ACh, and its receptors (α7 nicotinic ACh receptor, α7 nAChR).

Turmeric, or curcumin, has historically been utilized as a spice and a medicinal herb in India and China. Evidence suggests that curcumin affects diverse bioactivities. In recent years, a variety of research studies have shown that consuming curcumin considerably ameliorated collagen-induced arthritis (CIA). A clinical trial has shown that curcumin is a safe and effective natural remedy for RA patients. While research studies show that its bioavailability can be very poor,  curcumin or turmeric produces an anti-inflammatory effect by ultimately affecting the gut-brain axis and changing the gut microbiome.

The scope of our information is limited to chiropractic, musculoskeletal and nervous health issues or functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions. We use functional health protocols to treat injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system. To further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900 .

Curated by Dr. Alex Jimenez


Additional Topic Discussion: Chronic Pain

Sudden pain is a natural response of the nervous system which helps to demonstrate possible injury. By way of instance, pain signals travel from an injured region through the nerves and spinal cord to the brain. Pain is generally less severe as the injury heals, however, chronic pain is different than the average type of pain. With chronic pain, the human body will continue sending pain signals to the brain, regardless if the injury has healed. Chronic pain can last for several weeks to even several years. Chronic pain can tremendously affect a patient’s mobility and it can reduce flexibility, strength, and endurance.


Neural Zoomer Plus for Neurological Disease

Dr. Alex Jimenez utilizes a series of tests to help evaluate neurological diseases. The Neural ZoomerTM Plus is an array of neurological autoantibodies which offers specific antibody-to-antigen recognition. The Vibrant Neural ZoomerTM Plus is designed to assess an individual’s reactivity to 48 neurological antigens with connections to a variety of neurologically related diseases. The Vibrant Neural ZoomerTM Plus aims to reduce neurological conditions by empowering patients and physicians with a vital resource for early risk detection and an enhanced focus on personalized primary prevention.

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Dr. Alex Jimenez D.C.,C.C.S.T

Welcome-Bienvenido's to our blog. We focus on treating severe spinal disabilities and injuries. We also treat Sciatica, Neck and Back Pain, Whiplash, Headaches, Knee Injuries, Sport Injuries, Dizziness, Poor Sleep, Arthritis. We use advanced proven therapies focused on optimal mobility, health, fitness, and structural conditioning. We use Individualized Diet Plans, Specialized Chiropractic Techniques, Mobility-Agility Training, Adapted Cross-Fit Protocols and the "PUSH System" to treat patients suffering from various injuries and health problems. If you would like to learn more about a Doctor of Chiropractic who uses advanced progressive techniques to facilitate complete physical health, please connect with me. We a focus on simplicity to help restore mobility and recovery. I'd love to see you. Connect!

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