Smoking has been a common practice for more than a century now. Even though it has lethal side-effects, there has been no decrease in the number of people smoking. Instead the number has been growing regularity. Smoking is inhaling the smoke from a burnt substance like tobacco.
The dried leaves of tobacco are smoked in the form of cigarette, hookah, pipe, cigar, etc. In case of cigarettes, tobacco is mixed with an aerosol particles and nicotine. On smoking, these aerosols are heated along with tobacco and nicotine and inhaled deep into the lungs. In the lungs, these harmful components are absorbed into the bloodstream.
Nicotine is a stimulant compound found in tobacco plant (Nicotiana tabacum) and related plants. 0.6-3% of tobacco is made up of nicotine and an average cigarette provides 2mg of nicotine that can be absorbed.
Nicotine is associated with lung damage, cardiovascular problems, birth defects etc. Nicotine is one of the principal components of cigarette smoke. It is an addictive substance which affects the brain reward system.
When nicotine enters the blood from lungs, it raises blood pressure, constricts the arteries and reduces oxygen supply. Also carbon monoxide that accompanies nicotine reduces the blood’s oxygen carrying capacity.
Nicotine also causes inflammation and spasm in the muscles of the airway leading to asthma and inflammatory conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder. Nicotine does not cause lung cancer but it protects and enhances the growth of lung cancer cells.
4 Benefits Of Turmeric In Smoking/Nicotine induced damage
Curcumin present in turmeric has strong antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties which it utilises to protect lungs from nicotine induced damage.
1.Turmeric reduces nicotine toxicity in lungs
Nicotine induced lung toxicity impairs the antioxidant status of the body. This is marked by decrease in antioxidant enzymes and increased lipid peroxidation. Lipid peroxidation is a natural process occurring in the body but when it is uncontrolled it causes disease and damage.
It is destruction of essential fats present in cell membrane by reactive oxygen species which leads to cell death and tissue damage. Animal study shows that curcumin and its related compound reduce lipid peroxidation and raise the level of antioxidant enzymes while restoring minerals to normal levels.
This entire phenomenon is known as oxidative stress (imbalance between prooxidant and antioxidant agents).
Curcumin, as an antioxidant, ameliorates such nicotine induced oxidative stress.
What does this mean?
Curcumin is a strong antioxidant and it uses this pharmacological property in protecting lungs from nicotine induced oxidative damage.
2.It attenuates lung inflammation caused by cigarette smoke
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a condition wherein the lung is damaged leading to obstruction and difficulty in breathing. Not only cigarette smoke exposure but accumulation of bacteria in the airway can also cause accumulation.
Curcumin reduces such inflammation and activation and migration of immune cells to lung fluid. It also prevents tumor formation in such cases. Researchers feel that curcumin treatment in premalignant phase can protect high risk COPD patients from developing lung cancer. (Read: Turmeric for COPD)
Emphysema is a condition in which the tiny air sacs that present in the lung (these filter the air and help blood absorb oxygen) known as alveoli are damaged. Cigarette smoke can cause inflammation and emphysema.
In an animal study , curcumin was found to attenuate curcumin induced migration of immune cells to fluids present in the lung. It also reduced inflammation and emphysema caused by cigarette smoke.
What does this mean?
Cigarette smoke can cause inflammation and obstruction in the airway. Curcumin protects from development of such inflammatory diseases of the lung like COPD.
3.It prevents lung damage from progressing into cancer
90% of the lung cancer is caused by cigarette smoke. Cigarette smoke has a number of components that are carcinogens or cancer causing.
Nicotine is responsible for addiction but is not a carcinogen. However it does support cancerous cell growth and angiogenesis. (Read Turmeric & Angiogenesis)
A lab study demonstrated that nicotine can stimulate cell cycle regulating factors (Read Turmeric & Cell cycle regulation) in order to support survival of cancerous cells.
These cells had impaired functioning of tumor suppressing protein. Curcumin suppressed all such survival signals activated by nicotine irrespective of the functioning of tumor suppressing protein.
Benzo[a]pyrene is a strong carcinogen present in cigarette smoke. It promotes tumor formation by activation of a protein named nuclear factor-kappaB.
This protein plays an important role in inflammation and cell growth. Its activation can block apoptosis and stimulate proliferation.
A cell culture study showed that curcumin prevents such activation of nuclear factor-kappaB and its related genes in lung cancer cells, thereby preventing progression of lung cancer.
Curcumin suppresses a number of other biological agents in order to prevent benzo[a]pyrene induced cancer formation.
What does this mean?
Curcumin protects the lung from carcinogens present in cigarette smoke and prevents development of lung cancer.
4.It protects other organs from cigarette smoke induced toxicity
Curcumin’s antioxidant action is found to protect kidney health from oxidative stress caused cigarette smoke. Research shows that curcuminoids can boost antioxidant defence and protect liver from nicotine induced damage.
It is also found to reverse detrimental effects caused by smoking on blood related parameters and prevent clot formation. A recent study published in Turkish Journal Of Medical Sciences, 2016 shows that curcumin protects from testicular injury caused by nicotine addiction.
Curcumin’s immunomodulatory action also boosts immunity in the face of nicotine induced stress.
Bandyopadhyaya et.al proved that curcumin can protect from DNA damage caused by nicotine. Another study demonstrated that turmeric supplementation (1.5g/day) in chronic smokers prevents mutagen formation.
What does this mean?
Curcumin in turmeric protects other organs from smoking induced toxicity. It also protects from DNA damage caused by nicotine.
Dosage of Turmeric For Protection From Smoking Induced Damage
Turmeric in diet can help improve antioxidant defense. You can simply sprinkle turmeric in salads, soups, smoothies or use it in cooking.
Curcumin in turmeric is poorly absorbed in the body. Taking turmeric with black pepper and oil increases the absorption. Golden Paste combines these 3 elements making it an effective way of taking turmeric.
Start with small doses say ¼-1/2 tsp and increase gradually if no side effects are observed. The recommended dose is 1-2 tsp 2-3 times day (precisely 1 tsp 3 time a day).
Avoid taking it on an empty stomach. (Read Does turmeric cause acid reflux?) If taking large doses avoid taking it close to the time of taking medicines. (Read Black pepper in GP: Does it cause Drug interactions?)
If taking turmeric supplements, consult a health practitioner prior. If you need help identifying a good brand of turmeric check our recommendations on organic Turmeric Brands.
Turmeric in diet is safe but a few precautions need to be noted. (Read Side effects of turmeric)
Large doses of turmeric may cause gastric discomfort. Always start with small doses and increase gradually. Avoid taking turmeric on an empty stomach. (Read Can turmeric cause acid reflux?)
Turmeric has anti-platelet property. So if suffering from bleeding risk or taking blood thinners ,consult a health practitioner before taking turmeric. Also if scheduled for surgery, it is advised to discontinue turmeric supplements 2 weeks prior to surgery to avoid bleeding risks.
Curcumin in turmeric causes gall bladder contraction. If suffering from active bile duct obstruction or gallstones this level of contraction may cause pain. (Read Is it safe to take turmeric if you have gallstones) However, many readers, safely continue consuming turmeric in diet even in gallstones.
Turmeric as a spice is high in oxalates. Therefore one should limit its intake in gout and kidney stones. (Read Does Turmeric Cause Kidney Stones?) In such cases one can opt for curcumin supplements after a doctor’s consent.
Turmeric supplements should be avoided in pregnancy and lactation.
Curcumin in turmeric interferes in drug metabolism. Hence it is advised not to take turmeric supplements concomitantly with any medication. Maintain a 3-4 hour gap. It is best to consult a health practitioner about turmeric supplements.
Nicotine is one of the most harmful substances present in cigarette smoke that causes damage to lung tissue. This can further progress into debilitating conditions like COPD and lung cancer.
Turmeric and Curcumin can serve as an add-on therapy in protecting the lungs from nicotine induced damage. Also they are proven to protect other organs and overall health from damaging effects of smoking.