As a neurologist, I was fascinated by a recent article published in the February edition of Experimental Neurology. In this study out of UCLA, researchers studied effects of oxidative stress on brain function after traumatic brain injury. Rats were fed a regular diet or diet high in saturated fat with or without the addition of curcumin for four weeks.
A mild percussion injury to the animals was then performed. Interestingly, the rats fed a high fat diet seemed to show an overall worsening in cognitive functioning after the injury. However, supplementation with curcumin dramatically reduced oxidative damage and amazingly counteracted cognitive impairment caused by the traumatic brain injury.
Several other interesting articles have appeared recently in the medical literature. One, in the December 2005 issue of the journal Transplantation, looked at effects of the bioflavonoids quercetin and curcumin on 43 dialysis-dependent patients who had recently undergone kidney transplant from a cadaver.
Patients were randomized into three groups: one received 960 mg of curcumin with 40 mg of quercetin, another received half that amount and the third received placebo. The nutrients were started after surgery and taken for one month. Acute rejection incidence within six months occurred in about 14 percent of the placebo group and 14 percent of the low-dose bioflavonoid group. But the high-dose nutrient group showed 0% rejection incidence. Overall, early graft function (indicating how well the kidney was working) was 43 percent in the control group, 71 percent in the low-dose group and 93 percent in the high-dose group. The study concluded that the bioflavonoids appeared to improve outcome in cadaveric renal transplantation.
Another interesting study was published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition in February. The study involved 218 patients with chronic respiratory difficulties, such as COPD or asthma.
After adjusting for other variables, it was found that there appeared to be a direct correlation in forced expiratory volume and forced vital capacity with improvement seen in individuals with higher blood levels of certain carotenoids, such as beta cryptoxanthin, lutein/zeaxanthin and retinol, along with dietary intake of beta carotene, beta cryptoxanthin, lutein, zeaxanthin, vitamin C and lycopene. Authors of this study indicated that the results support the hypothesis that an imbalance in anti-oxidants/oxidant status is associated with chronic air flow limitation and that dietary habits and/or oxidative stress may play contributing roles.
In a related article concerning lung function, there’s a study abstract from the journal Critical Care Medicine scheduled to be published April out of Israel4. In the study, 100 patients with acute lung injury were randomized to receive a diet supplemented with EPA or GLA for 14 days versus no supplementation. It was found that by days four and seven , patients receiving EPA and GLA diets showed significant improvement in oxygenation and lung compliance. It was concluded that in patients with acute lung injury, a diet enriched with EPA and GLA may be beneficial for gas exchange, respiratory dynamics and requirements for mechanical ventilation.
A nice potpourri of studies this week! The common conclusion, of course, is that these nutrients can be quite powerful at providing enhanced health for many different concerns. I was particularly impressed by the study on renal transplanted patients. The addition of quercetin and curcumin made a dramatic difference in outcome. Just imagine if you were undergoing a renal transplant and knew that by adding these two simple nutrients you could improve overall graft function by over 100 percent . That would certainly be a no-brainer!
I wonder if any of my nephrology colleagues are aware of this study. For health care professionals who poo-poo this information, I believe they’re shortchanging their patients and possibly paying more attention to the benefits for drug companies. Fortunately, the Internet has been a wonderful free resource for the lay public to readily obtain a wide array of information about medical conditions and nutrition that, in many cases, may actually surpass the knowledge base of their own physicians.
If you’re not taking a good quality multivitamin, I believe you’re making a huge mistake.
Next take a supplement that contains 400 mg of EPA and 200 mg of DHA, along with other essential omega-3 fatty acids. It should be made from fresh deep sea cold water fish body oils, not fish liver oils. Fish oil should be molecularly distilled, which ensures a high level of product purity. You can also try a supplement that is combining fish oil, flax and borage oil. Borage oil is the best source of GLA at 23 percent elemental.
Also look for a turmeric extract supplement providing about 1,000 mg of elemental curcumin along with 5 mg of Bioperine.
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