Scientists Turn to Curcumin to Find a Better Way to 3D Print Bone?

by Chris Centeno, MD /

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curcumin for bone health

Of all the myriad of supplements out there, curcumin has been the star of the last few years. While supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin have been quietly adding studies that show they can help arthritis, curcumin has been stealing the show. Now a new study puts this Indian spice back into the spotlight, this time because of its effects on bone health.

Curcumin and Its Many Uses

Curcumin is the active ingredient in the Asian root plant turmeric and is extracted from the rhizomes of the plant. Turmeric is native to India, is actually in the ginger family, and is one of the major spices used in Indian cuisine, particularly curries. With curcumin’s unmistakable mustard-yellow color, it’s also commonly used as a dye. Turmeric has been used in traditional Ayurvedic, Siddha, and Chinese medicine for thousands of years to treat everything from stomach and liver issues to common colds, cancer, and menstrual pain and much, much more.

Curcumin as an Anti-Inflammatory and Antioxidant

Curcumin can also be consumed as a dietary supplement and is known for its anti-inflammatory properties; therefore, it is often taken to help relieve arthritis. In fact, curcumin has been shown to provide arthritis relief as effectively as NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen. Curcumin acts as an anti-inflammatory by blocking inflammatory cytokines (PGE2, IL1-beta, IL-6, etc.) that break down, or destroy, the joint and curcumin is particularly good at reducing inflammation in tendon and cartilage cells, eliminating toxic chemicals in the joint, and rescuing troubled cells before they die.

Curcumin also has very strong antioxidative properties. In fact, studies have shown it can alter oxidative stress effects by as much as 400%. Oxidative stress occurs when the body cannot detoxify the harmful effects of negative free radicals faster than the body can produce them. This means cell damage that leads to aging and illnesses. And curcumin was found to significantly reverse this effect.

It’s important to note that the liver doesn’t absorb curcumin well on its own, so it needs to be taken with BioPerine (a pepper extract) as this is a vehicle that assures curcumin can be properly absorbed. Many curcumin supplements already come with BioPerine in them, but they can also be purchased and taken as two separate supplements.

Study Finds Curcumin Increases Bone Formation

The new study utilized 3D-printed bone scaffolds coated in curcumin to investigate the direct effect of the spice on bone and compared their findings to a control model (no curcumin on the scaffold). Researchers used polymers to provide a continuous release of curcumin over a period of 22 days. The results? Compared to the control, the bone formation on the curcumin-coated scaffolds increased from 29.6% to 44.9%. Researchers also found that the curcumin increased the activity of cells that form bone, called osteoblasts, and decreased the activity of cells that break down bone, called osteoclasts. Additionally, faster wound healing was discovered in the curcumin scaffolds.

While the study focus in this case was on the effect of coating musculoskeletal devices, such as knee or hip implants, in curcumin, the researchers’ ultimate goal is on finding natural alternatives for chemical-laden pharmaceuticals in treating or preventing bone disease as we age, such as osteoporosis, or bone injuries. Osteoporosis, for example, is a bone disease that results when the density of the bone decreases. This can create bone so fragile, than a minor fall can cause a terrible fracture. Osteoporosis is particularly common in women after menopause, and is attributed to bone weakening due to many years of hormonal imbalance, inactivity, and aging.

Curcumin is one of those natural alternatives that has been shown to be beneficial in building bone, and the feature study today certainly seems to support this and is a great launch for further studies on the benefits of curcumin for bone health.

Another Study on the Benefits of Curcumin for Bone Health

This study isn’t the only study I’ve covered regarding curcumin and bone loss. Curcumin was also found to suppress oxidative stress in another study, which resulted in the successful alleviation of bone loss. In this study, the curcumin also increased the formation of osteoblasts (those bone-forming cells) as well as alleviated the loss of bone density.

The upshot? Curcumin is a superstar. So much so that it’s gotten the attention of big pharma. I take it every day, more because of its anti-inflammatory properties, but it’s good to know it helps bones as well.

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22 thoughts on “Scientists Turn to Curcumin to Find a Better Way to 3D Print Bone?

  1. B. J.

    How much is recommended as a daily supplement?

    1. Regenexx Team

      B.J.
      Here is the link to our Turmeric/Curcumin Complex. It is the ratio of Curcuminoids to BioPerine that is important, so if not this brand, look for that ratio from a trusted source. For these capsules, 1-2 per day. https://regenexx.com/regenexx-advanced-stem-cell-support-formula/ (scroll down) Avoid supplements from these stores, as problems were found with the ingredients: https://regenexx.com/blog/stem-cell-supplements/

      1. Sherry

        I just looked at the link above and it states all the ingredients for the stem cell formulas but not the tumeric formula. I am on an allergen free diet and cannot have dairy, soy, wheat/gluten, fish/shellfish, eggs and nuts. I would like to know if it is safe for me to take. Thanks.

        1. Regenexx Team

          Sherry,

          It’s further down on the page: All natural Turmeric Extract with BioPerine (black pepper). 95% standardized Curcuminoids extract of 750 mg Turmeric, vegetable capsule. 60-count. Includes BioPerine 5 mg to increase Turmeric absorption by 2000%. 1-2 capsules per day dosing.

          1. Sherry Heffner

            Thanks. I saw the listing you provided. I’m unsure about “vegetable capsule”. Is that free of gluten and soy?

          2. Regenexx Team

            Sherry,
            Vegetable capsules consist of HPMC and purified water. HPMC – Hydroxypropylmethylcellulose – is derived from vegetable cellulose, contain no preservatives, gelatin, wheat, gluten, animal by-products or starch, and they are made from pure cellulose of either pine or poplar.

  2. Maureen

    so if one was to take a supplement, which should be taken- Tumeric or Curcumin.

    1. Regenexx Team

      Maureen,

      We recommend Curcumin with Bioperine in this ratio: 95% standardized Curcuminoids extract of 750 mg Turmeric, BioPerine 5 mg to increase Turmeric absorption by 2000%. 1-2 capsules per day dosing.

  3. Mike Davis

    I’ve been adding raw tumeric root to my daily fruit and vegie smoothie. Am I missing the benefit by not having the Bioperine added? Would adding black pepper to the smoothie do the trick?

    1. Regenexx Team

      Mike,
      The liver doesn’t absorb curcumin well on its own, and the BioPerine is a vehicle that assures that the curcumin can be properly absorbed. In the right ratio, 750mgs curcuminoids to 5 mg BioPerine, it increases its absorption by 2000%.

  4. Roger

    It is ok to take curcumin before, and after, receiving your PRP, PL injections? Or is there a period during which it should not be taken?

    Thank you

    1. Regenexx Team

      Roger,
      Curcumin is fine except nothing by mouth (including curcumin) before the blood draw and Spinal procedure.

      1. Roger

        By “before the blood draw”, do you mean the same day as the blood draw, or for a longer period before?

        Thank you

        1. Regenexx Team

          Roger,
          It’s very important to drink plenty of water for 48 hours prior to the blood draw to be well hydrated. No food the morning of the blood draw, but whether or not water or anything else is allowed depends on what procedure/procedures you are having done. Please contact the Clinic for this individual information.

  5. Claudine

    “so it needs to be taken with BioPerine (a pepper extract)”
    are there any studies which have shown this?

    1. Regenexx Team

      Claudine,
      Please see: Influence of piperine on the pharmacokinetics of curcumin in animals and human volunteers. Shoba G, Joy D, Joseph T, Majeed M, Rajendran R, Srinivas PS Planta Med. 1998 May; 64(4):353-6., https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3918523/

      “One of them is piperine, a major component of black pepper, known as inhibitor of hepatic and intestinal glucuronidation and is also shown to increase the bioavailability of curcumin. This effect of piperine on the pharmacokinetics of curcumin has been shown to be much greater in humans than in rats. In humans, curcumin bioavailability was increased by 2,000% at 45 minutes after co-administering curcumin orally with piperine, whereas in rats, it has been found that concomitant administration of piperine 20 mg/kg with curcumin 2 g/kg increased the serum concentration of curcumin by 154% for a short period of 1-2 hours post drug. The study shows that in the dosages used, piperine enhances the serum concentration, extent of absorption and bioavailability of curcumin in both rats and humans with no adverse effects [95].”

  6. Kathy

    Are there any contraindications for taking curcumin?

    1. Chris Centeno Post author

      No, not for our procedures.

      1. kathy

        I just ordered a bottle to give it a try. How long would it take to see changes in bone? I have just been diagnosed with osteoporosis of spine and osteopenia at my hips and my rheumatologist wants to start Prolia. I have read several of your blogs on this drug and am fearful to start this.
        Is there anything else you would recommend doing? Excessive physical exercise of LE’s is out for me due to AVN of both hips and left knee. Currently recovering from core decompression with stem cells that is to be covered by insurance for my right hip. I was told my age was what was most against me, but I have other factors as well. Praying for a miracle and that my left hip and knee will hold up for possible future treatment. The treatment did not count the cells as yours does or provide the other aspects that yours does. Cost, unfortunately played a large role in my decision. In 1999, I went to Germany for an experimental treatment to save my kidneys (which it did) but it cost me $105,000.00–a second mortgage to the home and all of our savings plus help from family. Getting close to retirement, I could not do that to my family again. Thank you for all your diligence in finding treatments that are not invasive and toxic to the human body. I pray that your 2030 prediction gets moved up so that many more can reap the benefits of your work.

        1. Chris Centeno Post author

          Kathy, we don’t have any credible info that taking Curcumin will help your AVN, but it’s worth a try.

  7. Patti Lamar

    Interesting information, given that my ObGyn just contacted me to come in to discuss Prolia, and i began researching immediately…the last questioner asked how long it takes to see results with Curcumin/BioPerine as you recommend, and I’d like to know your best time estimate as soon as possible! I did see a quoted study showing 45% increased bone formation after 22 days, so is that about right for someone on the capsule? Thank you!

    1. Regenexx Team

      Patti,
      The 22 days in the study in the Blog was to test the effect of implanted Curcumin coated bone scaffolds. If you Google “curcumin bone growth study” you will find many studies on the positive effects of oral Curcumin on bone growth and health. (some listed as Curcumin, which is the active ingredient in Turmeric, some listed as Turmeric) It’s important to make sure the Curcumin has Bioperine with it to be effectively absorbed, in this ratio: 750 mgs Curcumin to 5 mg Bioperine.

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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