Posted: 05 Sep 2014 08:00 AM PDT
Curcuma longa, better known as turmeric, is an ancient spice used traditionally among the peoples of India, Asia, and the Middle East. Turmeric is a highly-prized root commonly used in Indian cuisine and even beauty applications. Turmeric imparts the recognizable vibrant yellowish-orange hue in curry dishes. Curcuminoids are the most active phytochemicals found in turmeric root, and many of the root's health benefits are associated with this compound.
Research has demonstrated that curcuminoids exert powerful health-promoting effects via its antioxidant, neuroprotective, and immunomodulatory activity. Some research has shown that turmeric may support healthy cholesterol levels, and preliminary studies have indicated that the spice may provide natural pain relief.  Research is still looking for more evidence to conclude that the ancient spice can be used for these purposes.
Turmeric and How It Benefits Prostate Health
A double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial published in the Journal of Cancer Science & Therapy displayed potential radioprotective effects of curcumin in prostate cancer patients. Groups were randomized and divided into 43 patients receiving the curcumin supplement and 42 patients receiving placebo. The group receiving the curcumin supplementation showed significant improvement in urinary symptoms across the board, with an impressive reduction of urinary frequency and less interruption of daily activities. These benefits were sustained 3 months after the study in the curcumin group, while the placebo group had declining quality-of-life markers. 
Another study investigated potential effects of curcumin at various dosages on specific prostate cancer cells in vitro. Curcumin was administered to the cancer cells in low, medium, and high concentrations and then measured and observed. Researchers discovered a notable and proportional increase in cancer cell apoptosis (death) as the curcumin concentrations increased. 
Current understanding is that a combination of inflammatory factors in addition to high androgenicity in the body cause and/or exacerbate the potential for developing prostate cancer.  Researchers discovered that curcumin possibly contributed to a decreased rate of cancer cell proliferation/metastasis development and the down regulation of androgen receptors. They also found curcumin inhibited proinflammatory chemicals in the body.  
BPH (Benign Prostate Hyperplasia)
A registry evaluation study published in the December 2012 issue of Panminerva Medica (Italy) was conducted to evaluate the effect, if any, of the addition of a curcumin supplement to the standard of care for BPH. Sixty-one patients were divided into two groups, with 31 receiving curcumin and the other 28 not receiving the compound.
At the conclusion of the 6-month study, the symptom score criteria results revealed the curcumin group had significantly reduced levels of urinary infection and urinary block/incontinence compared with the individuals not receiving the supplement. Researchers also noticed significant improvements in urinary stream and quality of life of supplementing participants.  Another study found that curcumin inhibited hypoxia-induced factor 1alpha (HIF1alpha), compounds that have been shown to cause enlargement of the prostate. 
Potential Bonus Benefit to Male Health
A recent research study published in 2014 compared the popular erectile dysfunction (ED) drug sildenafil citrate (Viagra) with curcumin. The investigation was conducted with rats that were split into different intervention groups, including curcumin only, sildenafil citrate only, and curcumin plus sildenafil citrate. Researchers kept track of eight different blood and genetic biomarkers known to cause or be involved in ED, such as nitric oxide (NO) and heme oxygenase markers.
At the conclusion of the 12-week study, the curcumin group had notably improved in ED-related symptoms. This study demonstrates that curcumin could potentially support erectile function with equal to or greater success than even sildenafil. 
More research is certainly needed to find conclusive evidence that turmeric — curcumin, to be precise — benefits prostate health. Even then, current research is continuing to mount to support its successful application for male health, making it a crucial root everyone should include in their diet. While most men may see more benefits with curcumin supplementation, incorporating whole turmeric into recipes can be an excellent way to receive a great deal of protection.
-Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, ND, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM
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