Turmeric and Endothelial Dysfunction : Can it Help?

The thin layer of cells lining the inner wall of blood vessels (veins, arteries, and capillaries) and the lymphatic system is known as the endothelium.

Any deviation from normal epithelial functioning affects important body phenomena like the coagulation of blood, the formation of cytokines, inflammation, adhesion molecules (molecules which help in cell adhesion) and vasodilation (relaxation of blood vessels, which causes a decrease in blood pressure). [1]

Often people suffering from cardiovascular disorders, diabetes mellitus, high cholesterol levels, and hypertension are at a greater risk of the endothelial repair mechanism.

The disease occurs due to an imbalance in the mechanisms of vasodilation and vasoconstriction.

The disease is often the causative reason behind various other diseases like hypertension, atherosclerosis, coronary artery disease, ischemia, thrombosis, etc. [2]

The major pathological effects of endothelial dysfunction occur due to increased oxidative stress (increase in reactive oxygen species), upregulated expression of adhesion molecules and pro-inflammatory cytokines, increased permeability of cells and high proliferation of vascular smooth muscle cells. [3]

How does turmeric help in Endothelial Dysfunction?

Turmeric, one of the most common spices used in Indian curry, is known to have amazing medicinal properties, hence used in Ayurvedic medicine since ages.

With its anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, turmeric can repair the imbalance in oxidant and anti-oxidant mechanism of the body, thus reducing situations of oxidative stress.

Proper functioning of endothelium is important for various cellular pathways that determine proper blood supply to the heart by affecting the dilation of blood vessels, platelet aggregation, etc.

Turmeric with vasorelaxation properties helps in repairing the damage caused by endothelial dysfunction.

Besides, turmeric improves the activity of enzymes that improve the availability of nitric oxide, one of the most important products that maintain the proper functioning of the vascular epithelial cells.

Also, it reduces the endothelial dysfunction risks in high-risk group population like patients suffering from diabetes mellitus, post-menopausal women, etc.

Lastly, turmeric prevents impairment in endothelial dysfunction from posing cardiovascular and atherosclerotic risks to patients in the long run.

This article will describe the effects of turmeric in reducing endothelial dysfunction and related disorders in greater details. Also, the recommended dosage and precautions of turmeric consumption will be discussed in this article.

Turmeric and Endothelial Dysfunction

1. Turmeric Reduces Oxidative Stress and Nitric Oxide Availability

One of the main reasons attributed to endothelial dysfunction is a reduction in a biological activity of nitric oxide (synthesized by the vascular endothelial cells) and an increase in oxidative stress due to free radical formation. [4]

Nitric oxide plays a crucial role in the maintenance of normal endothelial function by protecting the vessels from vascular injuries and helping to maintain a balanced vascular dilation. [5]

Increased production of Reactive Oxygen Species inactivates nitric oxide and reduces it biological availability, causing impairment in endothelium functioning [6].

Research has shown that curcumin, the major active ingredient present in turmeric, upregulates the expression of nitric oxide synthase, thus increasing nitrite production and reduces oxidative stress by downregulating the activity of oxidative enzymes. [7]

What it Means? Turmeric ensures normal endothelial functioning by reducing oxidative stress and increasing the availability of nitric oxide.

2. Turmeric Reduces Risk of Endothelial Dysfunction in Diabetes mellitus patients

Patients suffering from diabetes mellitus have been shown to pose a higher risk for endothelial dysfunction.

This high risk is due to the high activity of enzymes like MAP kinase that increase arginase levels in such patients which reduces nitric oxide synthase activity by competitive inhibition of the enzyme. [8]

This reduced nitric oxide synthesis is one of the major contributors of endothelial dysfunction, as it impairs the balance between vasodilation and vascular constriction. [9]

Research has shown that supplementation of the diet with curcumin can reduce risks of improper endothelial functioning by increasing nitric oxide synthesis through reduction of reactive oxygen species production and inhibition of enzyme pathways causing oxidative stress in vascular regions [10],[11].

What it Means? Turmeric improves endothelial functioning in patients suffering from diabetes mellitus.

3. Turmeric Improves Endothelial Function in Post-Menopausal Women

Post-menopausal women are one of the high-risk groups to suffering from endothelial dysfunction and associated disorders.

The major reason behind this high risk is estrogen deficiency in post-menopausal women which reduces the endothelium-dependent vasodilation (relaxation of blood vessels). [12]

Research has shown that daily ingestion of turmeric extract at a prescribed dosage paired with regular exercise can play a crucial role in improving the inner health of blood vessels and assist proper endothelial functioning in post-menopausal women.

A common indicator of proper endothelial functioning which tests for proper elasticity of arteries, flow mediated dilation was found to be significantly improved in patients treated with turmeric extract on a regular basis. [13][14]

What it Means? Turmeric extract, due to its antioxidant properties may improve the endothelial health in menopausal women.

4. Turmeric Reduces Cardiovascular Risks Due to Impaired Endothelial Functioning

An impaired vascular endothelial functioning is one of the major factors that may lead to cardiovascular diseases in the long run by affecting coronary blood circulation (blood circulation through the blood vessels supplying blood to the heart muscles) [15].

Research has shown that curcumin, due to its anti-oxidant properties, can exhibit a wide range of cardioprotective effects.

Studies have shown that turmeric, due its anti-inflammatory properties, can prevent arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms) as well as improve other cardiovascular complications such as heart failures, cardiac hypertrophy (thickening of the heart muscle, etc). [16]

What it Means? Turmeric can reduce the risk of endothelial dysfunction leading to cardiovascular complications in the long run.

5. Turmeric Reduces Atherosclerotic Risks Caused by Endothelial Dysfunction

Previous research evidence has shown that improper functioning of endothelium is one of the early markers of atherosclerosis (a disease characterized by clogging of arteries due to deposits along the walls). [17]

This is because endothelial dysfunction occurs due to impaired nitric oxide synthesis which leads to situations of oxidative stress, increased proliferation and migration of vascular cells, aggregation of platelets, vasoconstriction, ultimately leading to atherosclerosis. [18]

Research has shown that turmeric helps in preventing atherosclerosis by inhibiting the proliferation of Vascular Smooth Muscle Cells. [19]

Further, turmeric extract helps in the lowering of heart rate and blood pressure in the arteries by inducing relaxation of the blood vessels. [20]

Another related research has shown that turmeric inhibits platelet aggregation induced by arachidonate by inhibiting thromboxane production from arachidonic acid. [21]

What it Means? Turmeric prevents endothelial dysfunction by improving the body pathways that might lead to atherosclerosis.

6. Turmeric Improves Endothelial Dysfunction by Reducing Blood Coagulation

Endothelial dysfunction is associated with increased production of adhesion molecules, which leads to increased adhesion of leucocytes, monocytes, etc. leading to pro-coagulant behavior (body changes that cause increased coagulation). [22],[23]

A recent study has shown that curcumin, the active ingredient of turmeric and its derivative, bisdemothoxycurcumin (BDMC) possess anti-coagulant properties, by inhibiting thrombin activities, thus preventing blood clot formation [24],[25].

What it Means? Turmeric can reduce blood coagulation, a crucial marker of endothelial dysfunction.

7.  Turmeric Reduces high Cholesterol Content induced Endothelial Dysfunction

Research has shown that high lipid/cholesterol content in the diet leads to an impairment of endothelial function by reducing endothelium-dependent relaxation in response to serotonin. [26]

Research has shown that turmeric oil components have reduced total plasma cholesterol content, bad cholesterol or LDL content and also inhibits the oxidation of Low-Density Lipoproteins, thus maintaining the cholesterol levels within appropriate levels and reducing oxidative stress by reducing peroxidation of lipids. [27],[28]

What it Means? Turmeric prevents hypercholesterolemia induced impairment in endothelial functioning.

Dosage

Read our detailed article on dosage here>

The recommended dosage for turmeric generally varies from person to person. However, one can easily have turmeric as part of the regular diet in the form of curries.

The bioavailability of turmeric being very low, the proper benefits of turmeric can be achieved if taken with black pepper as black pepper improves the absorption of turmeric in the body.

General recommended a dosage of turmeric is around 400-600mg of standardized powder of curcumin three times a day.

Check out our recommended turmeric supplement brands here>

Again, an intake of 1 – 3 g per day of the dried, powdered root of fresh turmeric can also give the desired health benefits.

Precautions

Turmeric is not known to have any side effects, however, should be avoided by people allergic to it. Again, turmeric with its blood-thinning properties should be avoided by people who are taking blood thinner medicines.

Lastly, patients with gall bladder stones, lactating and pregnant women should consult the doctor before taking turmeric on a regular basis.

Want to know more? Check our comprehensive article on possible side effects here>

Conclusion

Turmeric has been shown to play a crucial role in ensuring proper endothelial functioning and reducing its pathological effects.

But more research is required.

Further research and investigation into the mechanism of protective roles played by turmeric can make it an important therapeutic ingredient in the treatment of endothelial dysfunction.

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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