Curcumin and Bone Loss – Curry Anyone?

by Chris Centeno, MD /

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curcumin and bone loss

Bone loss can be a problem in many different situations, but it is a profound issue in astronauts who live in the microgravity of space for long periods of time, and, in people who suffer from the similar effects of dis-use as a result of being bedridden. There has been a significant amount of research lately into what might counteract this effect, and Curcumin is a substance many studies have found to help bone loss from other causes.

Far from the microgravity of space, it has been long known that as a population, people in India suffer from less arthritis. While as a whole the lifestyle in India tends to include more activity, this doesn’t seem to account for their healthy joints, therefore the focus became looking into what they eat. Enter Curcumin. Curcumin is the active ingredient in the spice Turmeric and Turmeric is one of the major spices used in Indian Cuisine.  Readers of this blog know that after a year of laboratory testing, Curcumin became one of the main ingredients in our Regenexx Advanced Stem Cell Support Formula. Why? Curcumin has both very strong anti-inflammatory properties and has been shown in studies to alter the effects of oxidative stress by 200 – 400%. Oxidative stress is when the body’s production of bad free radicals is greater than the body’s ability to detoxify their harmful effects.

A new study set out to see if Curcumin could alter the effects of bone loss caused by microgravity both in-vivo (a live subject) and in-vitro (in the glass, like a petri dish).  For their live subjects the study used rats whose hind legs were artificially suspended, and the in-vitro study looked at two different cell types – osteoblasts and macrophages. Both were exposed to Curcumin for six weeks.  The results were impressive. In the rat model, the Curcumin alleviated the bone mineral density loss caused by the Hind Leg Suspension, preserved bone structure in their tibias and mechanical strength in their femurs, and reduced chemical markers of oxidative stress in their femurs via a process responsible for calcium homeostasis and crtitical in bone formation.  In the in-vitro model, the Curcumin inhibited the reactive oxygen species caused by the micro-gravity environment and enhanced osteoblast formation and differentiation.

The upshot?  So what does all of that mean for Curcumin and Bone Loss? We learned quite a while ago during our own in-vitro experiments that Curcumin is a powerful tool and I take it everyday.  I’m sure more studies will follow, but to know that a study was able to demonstrate that Curcumin successfully alleviated bone loss by suppressing oxidative stress and upregulating  an important bone formation system, might mean we should all be taking it in supplement form…or eating more Indian food!

Category: Diet/Nutrition

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Chris Centeno, MD

Regenexx Founder

Chris Centeno, MD is a specialist in regenerative medicine and the new field of Interventional Orthopedics. Centeno pioneered orthopedic stem cell procedures in 2005 and is responsible for a large amount of the published research on stem cell use for orthopedic applications.
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