Originally published on PreventDisease.com
Despite no evidence of its effectiveness to prevent disease, public health agencies and the medical community insist that infants and children between the ages of 2 and 12 months require up to four shots of the Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV). Now new research finds a substance in turmeric, curcumin, may outperform the vaccine in providing long lasting protection against potentially deadly lung damage in infants.
Pneumococcal bacteria are the most common cause of bacterial infections in children and a frequent cause of infections in adults. Infection starts in the nose or throat where it may persist for weeks or months. Pneumococcal infections are also the most common complication of seasonal influenza.
Researchers at Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center (LA BioMed), using disease models, found curcumin provided long-term protection against the damage caused by inadequate lung function.
Their study, published online by the American Journal of Physiology, Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology, found curcumin provided protection against bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BDP), a condition characterized by scarring and inflammation, and against hyperoxia, in which too much oxygen enters the body through the lungs.
Virender K. Rehan, MD, the LA BioMed lead researcher who authored the study said this was the first study to discover long-term benefits using curcumin to protect lung function in infants. "Curcumin is known to have potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties, making it a promising therapy," Dr. Rehan stated.
BDP is considered to be one of the most common chronic lung diseases of infancy in the U.S. and labeled as a pneumococcal clinical risk group to be targeted with up to four doses of the Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine between the ages of 2 and 12 months. The first shot is usually given when the child is 2 months old. The booster shots are then given at 4 months, 6 months, and 12 to 15 months of age. Physicians are also recommending a child who is between the ages of 24 months and 5 years old should receive 1 or 2 additional doses of this vaccine.
Dr. Manjeet Kumar, specialist in pediatric medicine says the finding could revolutionize the pneumococcal vaccine schedules for children before the age of one year. "We know the Pneumococcal conjugate vaccines have been particularly ineffective in the last decade for most children and Dr. Rehan's study is demonstrating a long-term protective mechanism which is now absent through standard vaccination practices," he stated.
Pneumococcal conjugate vaccines claim to prevent diseases caused by seven of the most common types of pneumococcal bacteria, however emerging evidence is showing these claims to be exaggerated. "It appears to be protecting against serious forms of the disease less than 20% of the time, depending on the person," stated Dr. Kumar. This is a large discrepancy from the 97% effectiveness claimed by health authorities.
Dr. Kumar emphasized the wealth of scientific literature supporting curcuminoids in disease prevention and hopes to see such treatments expanded throughout mainstream medicine. "We have hundreds of scientific studies supporting curcuminoid and curcumin derivatives in preventing disease, with enhanced biological activity and far more stable and bioavailable than current medications and vaccines on the market--it is no surprise they are outperforming pharmaceuticals."
Curcumin derivatives are currently being synthesized by both pharmaceutical and natural health industries due to their potency and antioxidant activity. Studies suggest that the bioavailability of curcumin and possibly its derivatives is greatest in the lungs and colon protecting from a diversity of cancers.
Dr. Kumar will soon be involved in clinical trials to conduct active surveillance for invasive pneumococcal disease to assess the serotype and antibiotic resistance patterns and provide conclusive evidence on how curcumin derivatives are now outperforming all pneumococcal vaccines and medications to designated risk groups.
One of the most comprehensive summaries of a review of 700 turmeric studies to date was published by the respected ethnobotanist James A. Duke, Phd. He showed that turmeric appears to outperform many pharmaceuticals in its effects against several chronic, debilitating diseases, and does so with virtually no adverse side effects.
Duke found more than 50 studies on turmeric's effects in addressing Alzheimer's disease. The reports indicate that extracts of turmeric contain a number of natural agents that block the formation of beta-amyloid, the substance responsible for the plaques that slowly obstruct cerebral function in Alzheimer's disease.
Turmeric contains more than two dozen anti-inflammatory compounds, including sixdifferent COX-2-inhibitors (the COX-2 enzyme promotes pain, swelling and inflammation; inhibitors selectively block that enzyme). By itself, writes Duke, curcumin - the component in turmeric most often cited for its healthful effects - is a multifaceted anti-inflammatory agent, and studies of the efficacy of curcumin have demonstrated positive changes in arthritic symptoms.
Duke found more than 200 citations for turmeric and cancer and more than 700 for curcumin and cancer. He noted that in the handbook Phytochemicals: Mechanisms of Action, curcumin and/or turmeric were effective in animal models in prevention and/or treatment of colon cancer, mammary cancer, prostate cancer, murine hepato-carcinogenesis (liver cancer in rats), esophageal cancer, and oral cancer. Duke said that the effectiveness of the herb against these cancers compared favorably with that reported for pharmaceuticals.
Dietary curcumin can stall the spread of fat-tissue by inhibiting new blood vessel growth, called angiogenesis, which is necessary to build fat tissue. Curcumin-treated groups have been found to have less blood vessel growth in fat tissue. Blood glucose, triglyceride, fatty acid, cholesterol and liver fat levels also were lower.
A team of researchers has now demonstrated that slow-wriggling alpha-synuclein proteins are the cause of clumping, or aggregation, which is the first step of diseases such as Parkinson's. A new study led by Ahmad, which appears in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, shows that curcumin can help prevent clumping.
"Our research shows that curcumin can rescue proteins from aggregation, the first steps of many debilitating diseases," said Lisa Lapidus, MSU associate professor of physics and astronomy who co-authored the paper with Ahmad. "More specifically, curcumin binds strongly to alpha-synuclein and prevents aggregation at body temperatures."
When curcumin attaches to alpha-synuclein it not only stops clumping, but it also raises the protein's folding or reconfiguration rate. By bumping up the speed, curcumin moves the protein out of a dangerous speed zone allowing it to avoid clumping with other proteins.
- Only 1 percent of the elderly in India develop Alzheimer's disease - this is one-quarter the rate of Alzheimer's development in North America. This difference is thought to be due in part to regular consumption of curry in India.
- Daily intake of curcumin may decrease the risk of developing polyps in the colon, which in turn, decreases the risk of developing colorectal cancer.
- Regular consumption of turmeric may help to ease pain and inflammation that accompanies arthritis.
- Curcumin may be helpful in the treatment of some cases of cystic fibrosis.
- Curcumin can help to effectively treat skin cancer cells.
- Turmeric may help to prevent the spread of breast cancer cells.
The medicinal properties of turmeric are so significant that the National Institutes of Health is currently conducting clinical trials to determine if turmeric (curcumin) should be a part of conventional treatment recommendations for more than a dozen different diseases.
In Ayurvedic medicine, turmeric is thought to have many medicinal properties and many in India use it as a readily available antiseptic for cuts, burns and bruises. It is also used as an antibacterial agent.
For evidence-based research on curcumin, visit the GreenMedInfo.com Research Dashboard.