Can Turmeric Help With Lipid Peroxidation?

Lipid peroxidation is defined as the mechanism of oxidation of Poly-Unsaturated Fatty Acids by reactive oxygen species (hydrogen peroxide, superoxide radicals), etc.

Polyunsaturated fatty acids are fatty acids with multiple double bonds, including the essential fatty acids of the body.[1]

Although it begins in the human body as a natural phenomenon, the process contributes to various diseases when the reactive oxygen species are produced in excess, due to an imbalance in the anti-oxidation mechanism (a mechanism to remove the reactive oxygen species) of the body. [2]

Lipid peroxidation causes various diseases such as atherosclerosis (narrowing of blood vessels), Parkinson’s disease (a progressive movement disorder), asthma, diabetes mellitus, age, and oxidative-stress related diseases, cardiovascular diseases, inflammation, DNA damage and cell death leading to cancers, etc. [3]

How Turmeric Prevents Lipid Peroxidation?

Lipid peroxidation occurs when the balance between the formation and removal of reactive oxygen species is disturbed.

This happens due to the decrease in the activity of antioxidant enzymes and an increase in the activity of oxidant enzymes.

Turmeric, a common spice of the ginger family, is known to be a powerful anti-oxidant. Thus, it can help in the removal of the harmful reactive oxygen species and therefore reduce lipid peroxidation levels.

The reactive species generated by lipid peroxidation create oxidative stress, which is the reason for various inflammatory diseases and cancers.

Turmeric, with its anti-inflammatory properties, reduces this risk to a great extent.

Besides, turmeric reduces the chances of DNA damage and reduces the occurrence of neurodegenerative and cardiovascular diseases to a considerable extent.

All these effects of turmeric and how it prevents lipid peroxidation will be discussed in greater details in the following sections.

Can Turmeric Help With Lipid Peroxidation

1. Turmeric enhances anti-oxidant activities and lowers lipid peroxidation

The major reason behind lipid peroxidation is an abnormal increase in the amount of reactive oxygen species (ROS), which thereafter cause the lipid peroxidation process.

The amount of reactive oxygen species increase when the anti-oxidant mechanism (enzymes to remove the ROS) is impaired. [4]

Research has shown that turmeric can lower the lipid peroxidation process by enhancing the activities of antioxidant enzymes such as superoxide dismutase, catalase, etc. leading to higher removal of the reactive oxygen species. [5]

What it means?

Turmeric removes reactive oxygen species, thus reducing lipid peroxidation.

2. Turmeric reduces lipid peroxidation induced DNA damage

The products of lipid peroxidation interact with the DNA, the genetic material of our body.

Also, lipid peroxidation creates oxidative stress, which ultimately leads to DNA damage, causing breaks in double-stranded DNA. [6]

The damaged DNA may because of further DNA mutations and contribute to cancers. Research has shown that turmeric possesses an ability to prevent the DNA damage caused by lipid peroxidation by nearly 80%.

What it means?

Turmeric inhibits DNA from being damaged by lipid peroxidation. The statement is too strong – it is better to say like this – Turmeric can help in prevention of DNA damage by lipid peroxidation.   This way we are saying that turmeric is not 100% solution here, it just helps.

3. Turmeric inhibits lipid peroxidation in red blood cells

Lipid peroxidation in the red blood cells leads to degradation of hemoglobin [7] and hemolysis (rupturing of red blood cells). [8]

Excess peroxidation may lead to the red blood becoming sickle-shaped, cell death and may ultimately lead to tissue damage. [9] [10]

Research has shown that turmeric extract can reduce lipid peroxidation in red blood cells and hemolysis by an amount of nearly 70% and 80% respectively. [11]

Thus turmeric can reduce the risk of various diseases associated with RBC Lipid peroxidation such as anemia, peritoneal dialysis, etc.

What it means?

Turmeric has anti-oxidant properties which effectively reduces lipid peroxidation in red blood cells.

4. Turmeric reduces oxidative stress and may even treat cancers

The major problem caused by lipid peroxidation is a situation of oxidative stress [12] and DNA damage, thus leading to various forms of cancer in the long run.

Research has shown that besides reducing oxidative stress [13], turmeric possesses anti-tumor properties and can effectively improve symptoms in cancer patients. [14]

What it means?

Turmeric can prevent cancers caused by lipid peroxidation induced oxidative stress and DNA damage.

5. Turmeric reduces lipid peroxidation induced atherosclerotic risks

One of the major diseases caused by lipid peroxidation is atherosclerosis (narrowed and stiffened arteries). [15] The peroxidation of lipids leads to the formation of “foam cells” and their deposits along the arterial walls.

Research has shown that turmeric can reduce atherosclerotic risks by reducing the oxidation of bad cholesterol. [16]

Also, turmeric can reduce platelet aggregation [17] and reduce the formation of blood clots along the arterial walls, due to its anticoagulant properties [18].

What it means?

Turmeric can prevent atherosclerosis, one of the major diseases caused by lipid peroxidation.

6. Turmeric prevents diabetes mellitus caused by lipid peroxidation

One of the major diseases caused by lipid peroxidation is diabetes mellitus or type II diabetes.

Research has shown that increased oxidative stress and decreased anti-oxidant activity are two major features seen in type II diabetes patients. [19] [20]

Research has shown that turmeric oil prevents diabetes mellitus by inhibiting the key enzymes involved in this disease, such as glucosidase, α-amylase, α-glucosidase, etc. [21]

What it means?

Turmeric prevents lipid peroxidation from causing diabetes mellitus in the long run.

7. Turmeric prevents lipid peroxidation induced inflammation

One of the major effects of the products of lipid peroxidation is the occurrence of chronic inflammatory diseases. [22]

Research has shown that turmeric possesses anti-inflammatory properties, which prevents lipid peroxidation from causing inflammation in the later stages [23].

What it means?

Turmeric can prevent lipid peroxidation from leading to inflammation.

8. Turmeric prevents cellular stress and apoptosis

Lipid oxidation often creates situations of cellular stress and may even lead to cellular death and tissue damage. [24] Research has shown that turmeric can inhibit cellular stress and cell death by blocking caspase activation. [25]

What it means?

Turmeric prevents cell stress and apoptosis caused by lipid peroxidation.

9. Turmeric prevents cardiovascular diseases

Research has shown that lipid peroxidation plays a crucial role in the pathology of cardiovascular diseases. [26]

Turmeric has shown abilities to cure cardiovascular diseases such as arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythm), cardiac hypertrophy, heart failures, etc. [27]

What it means?

Turmeric lowers risk of occurrence of cardiovascular diseases in situations of high lipid peroxidation.

10.  Turmeric prevents neurodegeneration

Increased oxidative stress in lipid peroxidation has been attributed to be the cause of several neurodegenerative diseases (diseases where nerve cells get degenerated with time) like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, etc. [28]

In several recent studies and clinical trials, turmeric compounds have been shown to play a crucial role in treating such neurodegenerative diseases effectively. [29]

What it means?

Turmeric prevents lipid peroxidation from triggering the occurrence of neurodegeneration with time.

Dosage

Although the exact dosage for treating diseases caused by lipid peroxidation is not yet prescribed, it can be consumed on a daily basis in curries.

However, the bioavailability of turmeric is very poor, it is suggested that one consumes it together with black pepper. [30]

The general recommended dosage is around 400-600 mg of curcumin powder three times a day, although dosage may vary from one person to another, and should be consulted by the physician.

An intake of 1-3 g of the dried, powdered root of turmeric a day is also sufficient for proper health and disease prevention [31].

Precautions

Turmeric has minimal side effects. However, it should be avoided by people allergic to turmeric and by lactating and pregnant women.

Moreover, patients with gall bladder stones and patients having medications for “blood thinning” should consult the doctor before having turmeric. [32]

Conclusion

Turmeric, with its active ingredient curcumin, has amazing medicinal properties.

Further research may go a long way in proving its full potential in treating diseases caused due to lipid peroxidation and the resulting oxidative stress.

About the Author

Shruti (BE Biotech. & PGD Clinical Research)

Turmeric for Health's writer team consists of passionate writers from the fields of biotechnology, pharmacy, nutrition, Ayurveda & microbiology.Our writers are highly qualified with many having Ph.D., M.Tech & MSc degrees while others having B.Tech, BSc, B.Pharm. Our differentiation lies in researching and presenting ONLY FACTUAL SCIENTIFIC information. We spend 10s of hours to write a single article. Info of our articles is sourced from reliable scientific sources which are also provided as a link alongside for readers to refer if they want. You can read more about our team in the " About us" section.

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