Leaky Gut and Curcumin: Helping Your Stem Cells and Allergies!

By Chris Centeno, MD /

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leaky gut and curcumin

Do leaky gut and Curcumin go together? You may have heard the phrase “leaky gut” or perhaps you have no idea what this means. This is an exciting area of medical research centered around your intestine as a barrier between the outside world and your internal workings. When it’s not, all hell breaks loose from a physical standpoint leading to allergies, obesity, and metabolic syndrome. Now a new study shows a role for the natural anti-inflammatory Curcumin in helping this condition.

Think of your digestive tract as a barrier of defense against the bad things in the outside world that you consume. It has a tough job, in that it needs to allow certain nutrients through into your blood supply while also keeping out harmful bacteria and chemicals. A first defense on which you rely on is the friendly bacteria in your gut. These little guys can help digest food, kill off bad bacteria, and generally act as a second immune system. This is why probiotics are so important. When something sneaks by your friendly bacterial defense, your body still has tight connections between the cells lining the intestine to keep bad things out. However, when those tight connections break down, bad bacteria and chemicals can make it to the bloodstream. One term for this is “leaky gut syndrome” and medical terms are “intestinal barrier function” and “intestinal permeability”.

Curcumin is an Indian spice that usually paired with a pepper extract (Bioperrine) to help absorption. Recent research has shown that Curcumin is an effective anti-inflammatory that’s equivalent to Motrin/Advil in potency. In addition, it has anti-oxidant properties and we chose it as a major ingredient for our stem cell support supplement because it performed well in our lab testing with human stem cells.  However, is there evidence that Curcumin could help with leaky gut as well?

The new study looked at an animal model of leaky gut where the animals are born with an intestine that allows some of the harmful chemicals made by bad bacteria (endotoxins) into the blood stream and as a result they get modern inflammatory diseases like heart disease and the pre-diabetic condition known as metabolic syndrome. In this study, adding Curcumin to their diets reduced the amount of harmful chemicals leaking in from the gut to the bloodstream. Another study recently published showed similar findings.

So what is Curcumin doing to achieve these effects? In order to understand that, it’s helpful to review a disturbing component of the modern, processed food supply that’s likely causing us to get sick-AGEs (Advanced Glycation End-products). These AGE compounds are rare in fresh fruit and vegetables, but are much more prevalent in processed foods. They are the result of a combination of high temperatures in industrial food conservation, flavoring and daily home cooking, and the increased use of sugars. A far as home cooking is concerned,  broiling and frying generates more AGE compounds than roasting, and the least amount are generated by boiling. From the sugar side of the equation, it’s thought that high fructose corn syrup is one of the modern food ingredients that lead to AGE compounds. One AGE chemical is also present in many common beverages like tea, coffee, diet coke and soy sauce. AGE chemicals increase the holes in the normal intestinal barrier defense, so they increase leaky gut. It’s thought that Curcumin can help close those holes by deactivating the AGE compounds.

Th Upshot? Concepts like leaky gut are now coming to the forefront of medicine as one of many explanations behind the chronic diseases of modern society. Curcumin may be one way we can all reduce some of those effects. If you have allot of allergies or irritable bowel, you might want to take a serious look at this supplement. We’ve also seen that Curcumin helps stem cells, so you may be getting a “two for one”!

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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