Maintain liver health with curcumin.
One of the leading causes of death for those 25 to 44 years old is chronic liver disease.1 Patients need to know simple precautions they can take to promote a healthy liver and avoid being a statistic.
The liver helps our bodies process what we eat and drink into energy and vital nutrients. It also filters out harmful substances from the blood. Although the liver will naturally contain some fat, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) will occur if there is a buildup of fat not due to alcohol abuse. Up to 25 percent of Americans have this disease.
If NAFLD progresses to nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), it can lead to inflammation and scarring of the liver, which result in liver cancer or even liver failure. A NASH diagnosis is made if more than 5 to 10 percent of the liver’s weight is fat.2
As both NAFLD and NASH are most commonly found among obese individuals, a standard treatment routine will focus on losing weight and avoiding alcohol, as well as lowering cholesterol and blood pressure.2
The condition can also occur in those with diabetes, so there may also be an emphasis on getting blood sugar under control. No medications exist that are specifically indicated for treating NAFLD.2 However, there is evidence suggesting curcumin is effective in maintaining liver health.
Curcumin can help
Curcumin is the main component of the spice turmeric, giving it a distinctive bright golden coloring.3 Turmeric is a member of the ginger family and often used as a staple in Indian cooking, particularly as a primary ingredient in curry.4
Curcumin is thought to prevent the accumulation of fatty acids in the liver, thereby staving off the possibility of NAFLD before it progresses to NASH as well as other liver diseases.5 Furthermore, curcumin is a powerful antioxidant, so it may also protect against the effects of age on the liver, as well as inhibit the formation of enzymes that can cause cellular death.5,6
A 2015 review discussed curcumin’s role in preventing NASH. The study found that curcumin inhibits the activation of hepatic stellate cells, which form scars in the liver following damage.7
Recommend curcumin to patients
The main takeaway from this research is that it is best to start patients on a curcumin supplement if you suspect they may have NAFLD, rather than waiting for it to turn into NASH. Dosage recommendations range from 80 to 500 milligrams.8
As part of your conversation with patients about the many benefits that curcumin offers, encourage them to identify and communicate telling risk factors involving the liver. Show them how they can improve their health by adding this spice to their life.
1 Centers for Disease Control. Deaths: Leading Causes for 2012. National Vital Statistics Reports. 2012:64(10):11.
2 American Liver Foundation. “NAFLD: Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease.” http://www.liverfoundation.org/abouttheliver/info/nafld/. Published January 2015. Accessed October 2015.
3 National Tropical Botanical Garden. “Curcuma longa.” http://ntbg.org/plants/plant_details.php?plantid=3652. Published February 2001. Accessed October 2015.
4 Wikipedia. “Turmeric.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turmeric. Updated October 2015. Accessed October 2015.
5 Vera-Ramirez L, Pérez-Lopez P, Varela-Lopez A, et al. Curcumin and liver disease. Biofactors. 2013;39(1):88-100.
6 Kuo J, Chang H, Tsai T, Lee T. Curcumin ameliorates mitochondrial dysfunction associated with inhibition of gluconeogenesis in free fatty acid-mediated hepatic lipoapoptosis. Int J Mol Med. 2012;30(3):643-649.
7 Tang Y. Curcumin targets multiple pathways to halt hepatic stellate cell activation: updated mechanisms in vitro and in vivo. Dig Dis Sci. 2015;60(6):1554-64.
8 Examine.com. “Curcumin: Scientific review (in-progress).” http://examine.com/supplements/curcumin/. Published January 2012. Accessed October 2015.