Curcumin inhibits pituitary tumor cell proliferation, induces apoptosis

Tuesday, December 10, 2013 by: PF Louis
Tags: curcumin, pituitary tumors, apoptosis

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(NaturalNews) There is probably no traditional Asian herb that is studied more in modern western medicine laboratories than curcumin, the active ingredient of the spice turmeric.

This article focuses on a study that investigated using curcumin for an unusual tumor growth in the pituitary gland called pituitary adenoma. It is considered benign, because there has been no evidence of pituitary adenomas spreading beyond the pituitary gland.

But that doesn't mean those tumors don't grow and cause problems. Pituitary tumors can lead to vision problems. Because the pituitary gland is the master switch for the thyroid gland, adrenals and sex glands, pituitary tumors can disrupt one's hormonal balance and lead to other serious ailments including cancer.

For example, pituitary adenomas promote excess prolactin production, which causes sex hormone problems mostly with women and somewhat with men. A prolactin blood test is used to determine pituitary tumor activity.

The first line pharmaceutical drug developed for inhibiting pituitary adenoma growth and excess prolactin is bromocriptine, which is among the class of dopamine agonists that stimulate dopamine receptors lacking that hormone.

The problems with bomocriptine dopamine agonists is that they don't always work and often create side effects as bad as or worse than the malady they're supposed to cure. Nothing unusual for pharmaceuticals.

Turning to ancient wisdom and natural herbs

In 2008, the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee conducted an animal study on pituitary adenoma rats cells first using only curcumin with varying doses and then combining curcumin with a bromocriptine drug.

One wonders if having an herb serve as a pharmaceutical adjunct permits mainstream medical researchers to get herbal studies funded. There's no money in herbs, and that's why most of these many curcumin studies don't garner much publicity.

Well of course, this study was very positive with its results, both with low-dose bromocriptine and without. The point of using low-dose bromocriptine is to alleviate side effects. Curcumin without the pharmaceutical drug has no side effects.

This study was published in the August 2008 journal Endocrinology with the conclusion that "curcumin inhibits pituitary tumor cell proliferation, induces apoptosis [tumor cell death], and decreases hormone production and release, and thus, we propose developing curcumin as a novel therapeutic tool in the management of prolactinomas [pituitary tumors]."

Using turmeric and curcumin

Curcumin is mostly denatured by stomach acids, rendering it useless for absorption into the blood via small intestines. But there are techniques for protecting the curcumin.

As a steady daily food source, turmeric's small curcumin content offers inflammatory and digestive protection. The turmeric needs to be heated and mixed in a good fat, such as coconut oil, pastured butter or ghee, to make a paste. Ground black pepper is added into the mix for its piperine content, which improves bioavailability.

It can be stored in the fridge and consumed by spoonfuls one to three times daily. But the volume percentage of curcumin in turmeric is only 2 to 5 percent. For therapeutic purposes, curcumin capsules should contain piperine to enhance bioavailability and be enteric-coated to protect their contents from being harmed by stomach acids.

A 2008 study at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, used 8 grams of oral curcumin daily to successfully curb pancreatic cancer, a very difficult cancer to treat. So perhaps half as much would work for lesser problems.

Thanks to LET (liposomal encapsulation technology), the problem of getting curcumin past stomach acids and into cells has been mitigated. Simply Google "liposomal curcumin" to view a variety of products offered online with explanations of LET.

One caveat for curcumin: It's a blood thinner. Don't mix with pharmaceutical blood thinners, and stop using it two weeks before surgery.

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