Harvesting Turmeric, India. Photo courtesy Europharma

Changing Our Relationship to Pain

Common Name


Botanical Name

Curcuma longa
Curcuma longa
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Turmeric is highly revered in India’s 5000 year old system of Ayurvedic medicine, with a history of use for treating respiratory conditions including asthma, allergy, coughs and sinusitis, for liver disorders, for rheumatism, and to heal diabetic wounds.

An estimated 50 million Americans suffer from chronic pain, according to the American Pain Foundation. That’s a lot of pain. And that adds up to a lot of drug use, notably the category called NSAID’s, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen are over-the-counter examples of this class of drug. These drugs inhibit COX1 and COX2 enzymes, major factors in pain. But they cause stomach damage—even bleeding ulcers—and are implicated in over 16,000 deaths from side effects per year. Then there are prescription drugs like Vioxx and Celebrex designed to inhibit activity of only the COX2 enzyme. They do accomplish this, but along the way, they can also cause liver and kidney damage—and increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. That’s a bad deal. Medicines should heal, not hurt. They should promote life, not take it away. In part, due to disappointment with drugs, and in part due to a belief that natural remedies are safer than most pharmaceuticals, many people seek natural remedies to alleviate pain. But where do they look?

Enter curcumin, a derivative of turmeric root (pictured right), and enter Curamin, a breakthrough curcumin-based supplement that literally can erase pain quickly and powerfully, without negative effects. With Curamin, you have a safe pain-killer that competes with drugs for the same purpose, imparting only benefits to health. In my opinion, this changes our relationship with pain, and opens up a huge door of opportunity for the field of natural, plant-based medicines.

To get started on the road to understanding Curamin, it’s time for a bit of background. Traditionally, turmeric, or Curcuma longa , has been widely used for food, cosmetic, and medicinal purposes. Turmeric provides the distinctive yellow color to curry, and is used to color butter, cheese, and other foods. In India’s traditional system of Ayurveda, turmeric enjoys a long history of use for the treatment of respiratory conditions including asthma and allergies, coughs, sinusitis, for liver disorders, for rheumatism, and to treat diabetic wounds.

Compounds in turmeric most responsible for its broad uses are the curcuminoids, notably curcumin. Curcumin demonstrates antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, anticarcinogenic and antimicrobial activity, hepatoprotective, cardioprotective and antiarthritic benefits. Curcumin accounts for approximately 3 percent of the dry weight of turmeric root. Whole turmeric root and concentrated curcumin demonstrate great safety. In fact, no studies in animals or humans have discovered any toxicity associated with the use of either, even at very high doses. Turmeric is consumed in very large quantities daily in various parts of Asia and Southeast Asia, imparting only benefits. In other words, curcumin is utterly safe.

As if all the other science on curcumin were insufficient, recent studies also suggest that curcumin may offer significant cognitive-enhancing and antidepressant benefits. These benefits appear primarily due to curcumin’s capacity to promote the activity of neuroprotective factors in the brain, and to regulate certain neurotransmitters. This research suggests even broader uses for curcumin than previously considered, and creates opportunity for inclusion of curcumin in brain-protective and mood-enhancing formulas.

But back to pain, the issue of the day. With regard to pain, turmeric root in general and curcumin specifically show superstar status. In addition to curcumin, turmeric root also contains other anti-inflammatory compounds including cineol, alpha-pinene, borneol, caffeic acid, caryophyllene, eugenol, limonene, and vanillic acid. In any good turmeric-derived pain product, these agents would also support the activity of curcumin. Like the NSAID’s, curcumin inhibits COX2. But unlike the NSAID’s, it does not do so selectively. Instead, curcumin also balances the activity of other key factors in inflammation, including NF-kappaB, PPAR Gamma transcription factors, and 5-LOX. By inhibiting the activity of all these aspects of inflammation, curcumin delivers, in my opinion, far superior anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving activity than most drugs.

The role of inflammation in pain is pretty straightforward. Any of a variety of insults can cause inflammation in the tissues of our bodies. External insults like burns, bites, scrapes, stings, cuts and bruises cause skin tissue to swell as protective fluids pour into damaged tissue between cells. Nerves may also be directly hurt. All of this activity is accompanied by pain. This is also the case with internal injuries that may be diet-related or the result of wear and tear.

With its superior anti-inflammatory properties, curcumin, can help with pain relief. But curcumin is rather poorly absorbed. In cultures where turmeric root is used by the kilo in the evening’s curry, people consume very large amounts of curcumin. Thus they absorb a good amount of curcumin, bound to various dietary fats and oils also present in foods. Curcumin is soluble and better absorbed when conveyed in fat, and a number of Ayurvedic medicinal recipes call for the use of turmeric root cooked in fatty buffalo milk. When turmeric root is cooked in a curry along with vegetable oil, curcumin mixes with the oil. This enhances absorption.

But what about the rest of us who live in cultures in which turmeric root, fresh or dry, is not a dietary staple? How can we benefit from the extraordinary anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin, without eating gobs of the stuff? This is where Curamin, made by EuroPharma, comes in. Curamin is formulated around a special, proprietary extract of curcumin called BCM-95. To help you understand the uniqueness of this extract, I need to explain a little about extraction. When an herb is extracted, it is typically put into a large vat with a solvent. This solvent may be alcohol, water, or other agents. The solvent pulls compounds out of the “skeleton” of the plant tissue. The inert cellulose fiber is then removed, and only an extract remains. Most curcumin extracts are simple solvent extracts in which curcumin is removed from the turmeric. But BCM- 95 undergoes additional processes. This extract is bound to phospholipids, which enhance absorption of the curcumin. In addition, the critically valuable essential oils of turmeric, including the ones I described earlier on, are also included in this extract.

The net effect of this extraction and binding technology is that the curcumin extract in Curamin possesses unusually high absorption capacity. According to studies, BCM-95 is 7-10 times better absorbed than regular 95 percent curcumin, and is significantly better absorbed than combinations of curcumin and piperine. With a high concentration of this extract, Curamin can quickly help with pain.

While BCM-95 curcumin extract is definitely the botanical star ingredient in Curamin, three other agents round out the Curamin formula. DLPA, or DL-phenylalanine, is an amino acid that demonstrates significant pain relieving and anti-depressant properties. Boswellia serrata , also known as frankincense, comes from an Indian tree and demonstrates significant joint pain-relieving properties in human clinical studies. And nattokinase, an enzyme extracted from the fermented soy food natto, is used to enhance overall circulation and balance fibrinogen levels in the muscle. If you can help with pain relief and do so naturally and safely, if you can lift the veil of darkness that chronic pain engenders, then you can transform people’s understanding of the benefits of natural remedies through positive experience. I believe that Curamin does this remarkably well. Additionally, Curamin also delivers other benefits to the heart, liver, brain and immune system described earlier on.

Natural, plant-based remedies are still the most widely employed health supporters on earth, far more than over-the-counter and prescription drugs. Today we are able to blend the very finely developed body of traditional medicinal knowledge, with modern technology and science. As a result we can create safe, effective natural remedies like Curamin, to enhance people’s health, keep more people away from toxic drugs, and open up the doors to greater vitality through the restorative and healing powers of nature’s bountiful pharmacy. To me, this seems like a worthy mission.