Last month we included curcumin, a metabolite found in the turmeric root, in our Top 10 Science of 2015 list for its anti-inflammatory and pain reduction benefits. A new study out of Brazil may add one more benefit to curcumin’s portfolio: fat loss, for rats, at least.
Researchers from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul published a report in the Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity journal that outlines how curcumin may reverse aging symptoms, such as bone loss and weight gain, associated with post-menopausal animals and humans.
“Several evidences have described menopause as a prooxidant and inflammatory state, which directly impact the development of several ageing and oxidative stress-associated diseases,” the study says, citing research published in the Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics. Beyond menopause, the researchers were also aware of curcumin’s benefits in other periods of oxidative stress progression such as obesity, osteoporosis, and arteriosclerosis.
A selection of female Wistar rats from the university’s breeding colony. Eight of the rats were sham-operated on, while 37 rats underwent ovariectomy (OVX) surgery to simulate menopause-associated oxidative stress and lipid profile dysfunctions in humans.
Sixteen of the OVX rats were given either 50 mg/Kg/day or 100 mg/Kg/day doses of curcumin, while the rest of the rats (a mix of sham-operated and OVX rats) were given refined olive oil.
More curcumin, less weight gain
“OVX vehicle-treated animals presented a higher deposition of intestinal adipose tissue,” the report said. In other words, rats that simulate hormone imbalances in menopausal humans accumulated more body fat. However, when the researchers compared OVX rats given curcumin with OVX rats not given curcumin, the former group experienced a decrease of fat accumulated in the intestines at the same rate as sham-surgery, or non-menopausal, rats.
“We observed that oral curcumin was able to prevent a number of biological impairments associated with hormone deprivation,” the researchers wrote in the report. “Alterations in the levels of some lipid markers, IAT deposition, and, mainly, improvements in the antioxidant potential in blood and liver were observed after a 30-day supplementation, which is a noteworthy result given the well-recognized clinical safety of curcumin.”
The researchers aim to see whether curcumin can become an alternative for hormone replacement therapy (HRT), which has for some time been the chosen standard to alleviate menopause-associated symptoms, but has declined in popularity because of possible negative effects such as thromboembolic accidents, stroke, and breast cancer.
“Diets based on antioxidants may help to protect menopausal and postmenopausal women against the high levels of oxygen stress implied in the acceleration of the arteriosclerotic process and skin aging, among others, that take place during middle age,” the researchers wrote. “However, taking into account that many menopausal and postmenopausal women actually do not consume the recommended five daily rations of such a healthy diet, they might obtain some benefit from dietary supplements.”
Source: Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1155/2016/5719291
"Curcumin Supplementation Decreases Intestinal Adiposity Accumulation, Serum Cholesterol Alterations, and Oxidative Stress in Ovariectomized Rats"
Authors: M. da Silva Morrone, et al.