Preventing Modern Diseases With The Ancient Spice
People of all ages can be infected by the COVID-19 pandemic especially the elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions such as obesity, asthma, diabetes and heart diseases. These groups of patients appear to be more vulnerable to become severely ill when infected with the virus. One of the most alarming aspects of the disease is when healthy, young adults succumb to the virus, and how mild symptoms can suddenly escalate into severe, life-threatening problems. The virus itself may not be entirely to blame for such turn of events, but rather an overreaction by the body’s immune system.
When a foreign agent — like a virus — invades the body, immune cells immediately communicate with one another to attack the virus. The cells secrete cytokines, which are “messenger” molecules that they use to “talk” with one another to initiate an immune response. In some instances, immune cells continue to secrete cytokines even after a sufficient immune response has been mounted. Known as a “cytokine storm,” this overproduction of messenger molecules causes an excessive and destructive inflammatory response in the body.
Majority of the severe SARS-CoV2 infected patients develop respiratory distress due to the elevated levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines. As part of a robust immune response in severe cases, the virus triggers an overactive immune system. This produces a large amount of inflammatory factors, which is the cause of severe lung damage and manifests as acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), resulting in high mortality. In the case of COVID-19, cytokine storms may be the reason why patients without underlying conditions or those who seem to be recovering suddenly experience severe respiratory distress syndrome.
Calming The Storm
Researchers are investigating ways to calm the overactive immune response through treatments that reduce inflammation. Researchers are testing a number of treatments, including a class of drugs known as immunomodulators, which regulate and normalize the immune system to reduce inflammation and resolve symptoms. Some researchers have speculated that a certain ingredient in our spice pantry might help quell a cytokine storm. Curcumin, a compound found in turmeric, has long been touted as a beneficial antioxidant and anti-inflammatory against various diseases.
Chronic inflammation in these pre-existing diseases can adversely affect the outcomes of patients with COVID-19. Those who have chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart diseases, chronic lung disease etc. need to reduce the inflammation that is occurring all the time in their body. These groups of individuals have impaired immune response or amplified pro-inflammatory response. It is prudent to consider the impact that COVID-19 infection can have on people living with unhealthy body weight. Half of Malaysian adults are suffering from unhealthy weight at 52.6% last year with 1.7million suffering from diabetes, high blood pressure and heart diseases (Codeblue 2020). Obesity increases chronic inflammation.
A study published in 2015 documented the effects that curcumin had in reducing the amount of cytokines released during a cytokine storm. In laboratory experiments, researchers found that curcumin blocked the release of cytokines specifically responsible for inflammation. Some studies show that cucurmin reduces inflammation and pro-inflammatory mediators (Sordillo et al 2015). Overall, the well documented anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory effects of cucurmin makes it a promising candidate for the treatment of COVID-19.
Potential Antiviral Effect
Cucurmin extract from turmeric is one of the natural compounds that has been widely investigated for its antiviral effects. Its wide range of therapeutic properties include antioxidant, anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective and cardioprotective (Manoharan et al 2020).
The preliminary step in COVID-19 infection is the interaction of the viral spike proteins with the human cells. The spike protein of SARS-CoV2 is stuck on the roughly spherical structure of the viral particle. It is ready to cling on to the unsuspecting human cells. A receptor known as the angiotensin converting enzymes (ACE) 2 is present in the lower respiratory tract of the humans and it is recognized by the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2. The spike protein is essential for the entry of the virus into the human lung cells (Zhang et al 2020). It has been demonstrated that cucurmin treatment can modify the structure of the surface protein in viruses, thereby blocking the entry of the virus into the human body (Das et al 2020).
The Most Human Clinically-Trialled Cucurmin
Theracurmin® is a novel preparation of turmeric that utilizes patented, colloidal dispersion technology to enhance bioavailability and dramatically increase curcumin levels in the blood. Standard curcumin is poorly absorbed even at high doses. Human clinical trials show that Theracurmin® is over 2700% more bioavailable than a standard curcumin extract and is many times more bioavailable than other commercially-available curcumin supplements. It can be absorbed rapidly and retained in the body for as long as 24 hours, allowing the body to obtain a fast and longer protection against inflammation. Theracurmin® has the most clinical research done on humans. The studies were done on double-blind randomised placebo basis and are proven to be effective in preventing and treating diseases involving the heart, liver, lungs, muscles, skin and even cancers.
1. Sordillo et al. Cucurmin suppression of cytokine release and cytokine storm. A potential therapy for patients with Ebola and other severe viral infections. In vivo. Jan-Feb 2015; 29(1):1-4
2. Manoharan et al. cucurmin a wonder drug as a preventive measure for COVID-19 management. Indian J Clin Biochem. 2020 Jul; 35(3):373-375.
3. Zhang et al. Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) as a SARS-Cov-2 receptor: Molecular mechanisms and potential therapeutic target. Intensive Care Med. 2020 Apr; 46(4): 586-596.
4. Das et al. An investigation into the identification of potential inhibitors of SARS-CoV-2 main protease using molecular docking study. J Biomol Struct Dyn. 2020 May 13;1-11.