Problems in our digestive tract are major sources of illness. The most important of these problems are the ones affecting the intestines. Some of the major intestinal problems include cancer, polyps and inflammatory diseases.
An abnormal growth of cells and tissues in any part of your body is called a polyp. A polyp in the colon or rectum, is an intestinal polyp. They are mostly benign, that is they aren’t cancer causing.
They can be pre-cancerous that is prior to cancer causing stage. Hence, it is important to be treated at this stage, before they turn cancerous.The symptoms include bloody stool, diarrhea, anal bleeding, constipation etc. ,
Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory disease of the digestive tract. It is a type of inflammatory bowel syndrome affecting the colon but it can other parts of the digestive system as well. The major symptoms include inflammations, irritations in gastric lining often leading to tissue damage and scars.
Our digestive tract is lined with secretory cells which secrets mucous. A cancer in these kinds of secretory cells is known as Adenocarcinoma.
Intestinal polyps are also known as colorectal adenomas or tumors of cells found in colon and rectum (parts of large intestine).
Here is a study which illustrates the effects of treating Familial Adenomatous Polyposis with a combination of curcumin and quercetin.
Familial Adenomatous Polyposis (FAP) is a hereditary disorder in which a number of polyps develop in the lining of large intestine. When numerous colorectal adenomas or polyps in colon develop and are left untreated they progress into colorectal cancer.
Diferuloylmethane or curcumin is an extract from the rhizome plant Curcuma longa. It is known to be anti-inflammatory, anti –carcinogenic and anti-oxidant by nature. It is the major ingredient of turmeric. It is proven to have many chemopreventive effects.
Quercetin on other hand is a flavonoid, aplant derived polyphenolic compound by nature. It is a primary constituent of onion, green tea, red wine etc. It has some inhibitory effect in colon cancer cell lines.
What happened in this study?
This study involved 5 FAP patients with a history of colectomy. The selection was based on the previous history of 5 or more intestinal polyps. Individualss on non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs prior 1 week of this study were excluded.
All of them were put under a regime of 480 mg curcumin and 20 mg quercetin thrice a day. They were asked not to take painkillers. Their blood glucose level and other parameters were monitored each month. This regime lasted for 3-9months.
The no. of polyps and their baseline were measured at 3 intervals – at 3 months, 6months and 9months. After every endoctomy (a way of diagnosis where you look inside internal organs with the help of an endocscope, kind of a detailed view of organs) polyps were sampled for histological studies.
The mean decrease of number of polyps from baseline in all the patients from the starting date was assessed for the results.
What were the results?
4 patients had a decrease in the polyp number after 3months. Communication with one patient was lost after 3 months.
The number of polyps at the baseline ranged between 11-45. After the treatment the number of polyps varied between 2-19. The standard size of the polyps at the baseline was 4-8mm. After the treatment the size of the polyps ranged between 2-4 mm.
Thus, there was 60.4% drop from the baseline , in case of the no. of polyps and a 50.9% decrease in case of the size of polyps.
In one of the patients there was an increase in polyp numbers after 3 months. This was due to non-compliance with the dosage.
Hence he was placed at an increased dosage for the later 6-9months.
However, some side effects were visible. One of the patients suffered from nausea and sour taste for 1-2hours after the intake of the pill. This effect receded after 3 days and didn’t occur again. In another patient there was an occurrence of loose stools for 5days.
There was 92% compliance with the drug regime.
How did this occur?
Both curcumin and quercetin are anti-carcinogenic but their mechanism of action is different. Thus they affect different aspects of cancerous cells making the attack more potent.
Curcumin increases the level of expression of detoxifying enzymes such as glutathione S-transferases. This enzymes helps in detoxification of carcinogens that is, cancer causing elements.
Curcumin suppresses the expression of the isoenzyme cyclo-oxygenase-2 gene. The enzyme plays a crucial role in FAP patients.
COX-2 is essential for prostaglandin (cyclic fatty acids with hormone like functions) & decreases glutathione S transferases production. Inhibition of COX-2 by curcumin effects both of these. Curcumin does this mainly by blocking the NF-ᴋB pathway.
Curcumin reduces the level of prostaglandin E2 (hormones involved in inflammation). A connection between prostaglandin level and the regression of FAP have been observed. It appears that a reduction in prostaglandin level makes chemotherapy and other drugs more efficient in the treatment of cancer.
The anti-carcinogenic effects of quercetin isn’t known elaborately. They are thought to play an effective role in gene regulation of different pathways. Flavonoids generally affect the Ras pathway.
It is a signaling mechanism which transfers messages from the cell surface to the DNA carrying nucleus of the cell. It primarily occurs when a nitrogen based compound binds to the cell surface.
Quercetin’s anti-carcinogenic ability is due to its power to block the p21-ras expression. P21 is a cancer causing gene.
Quercetin effects the Wntβ-catenin signaling. It does this by inhibiting Cyclin D1 required for the process. This pathway plays a crucial role in human carcinogenesis.
Cyclin D1 is a class of protein molecules called cyclin, which are essential for cell cycle. Cell cycle is the cyclical process of a cells birth, development, division, death and damage repair. Its duration is specific in an organism.
Overall curcumin plays a high chemopreventive role while quercetin has a mild chemopreventive role but this study suggested a synergistic effect of the duo.
What does this mean?
This study clearly indicates the enhanced effectiveness of using a curcumin & quercetin combined drug regime for a greater impact of intestinal polyps. Mere incorporation of curcumin in our diets or solitary use of quercetin will not have the desired effect.
In order to have the maximal effect both of them are required. Thus it is desirable to add turmeric, capers, red onion and green tea in your diet if you have intestinal polyps. These ingredients are chief powerhouses of these two natural compunds.
Dietary sources of both compounds can be of limited help. To enhance therapeutic effect of turmeric you can opt for The Golden Paste. If opting for supplements, consult a doctor.
Read the full study at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16757216