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March 18, 2018
By Susan Callahan, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist
Curcumin is one of the best studies spices in the world, and for good
reason. Curcumin, technically called "curcumin longa", has been used a
part of traditional Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years in India
The spice, which gives curry its yellow color, has powerful, general
antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties which have been strongly
associated with lower incidence of cancer, Alzheimer's, sinus infections
and more. Can it also help to improve erectile dysfunction?
There is logic behind the expectation that curcumin can improve erectile
dysfunction. After all, curcumin is a blood-thinner. It improves the
circulation of blood and may improve the function of cardiovascular
blood vessels. These same blood vessels supply blood to your groin
and penis and are responsible for erections.
But is there scientific proof of this suspected connection? Yes, there is.
Curcumin Improves Erectile Performance in Lab Rats
In 2012, scientists from Cairo University set out to understand if
curcumin could improve erectile function in diabetic rats.
The 120 albino rats were selected. Of these 96 were induced to become
diabetic. 12 weeks after they developed diabetes, they developed
They rats then divided into groups that were given curcumin and
groups that were not. Some of the rats were given pure curcumin,
others were given water soluble form of curcumin, still others were
given a Zinc protoporphyrin. Zinc is known to boost testosterone and
believed to improve erectile dysfunction.
After 12 seeks of the curcumin and a single dose of the zinc, the
animals were sacrificed. The researchers assessed how much pressure
could be sustained in the cavernosal structure of the penis as well as
levels of nitrous oxide, a gas that helps to relax the arteries, improve
blood flow and erections.
Here is what they found. Administration of curcumin improved all the
markers associated with healthy erectile performance, including nitrous
oxide levels and the cavernosal pressure of the penis structure.
The good results lasted more than a week in the case of rats which had
been given repeated doses of curcumin.
Will Curcumin Work on Men as Well as It Did on Lab Animals?
To date, and somewhat surprisingly, there has been little scientific
interest in the specific issue of how curcumin affects erectile
dysfunction in men.
However, what the Cairo result suggest is that curcumin, taken
repeatedly over a 3 month period, can improve the amount of blood
flow to the penis. There is no anatomical or genetic reason in this
regard to believe that curcumin would not work as well on men;
including diabetic men, as it did on lab animals.
We would need of course to see curcumin tested directly on men and
see many more universities repeat this study before we could
conclusively endorse its use for erectile dysfunction. But, in the
meantime, there is no known toxicity level for curcumin.
There are, nonetheless, significant downsides to taking curcumin
without first consulting your doctor.
Curcumin May Cause Internal Bleeding
Remember that curcumin is a blood-thinner. So, if you are taking blood
pressure medications that act as blood thinners or have a heart
condition and are on blood thinners, you should never take curcumin or
any other natural supplement without first consulting with your doctor.
What's the worse that can happen? You could develop internal
bleeding. The New York Times Magazine pointed out a case of man who
developed bleeding in his brain after taking curcumin supplements.
The man was also on blood thinner and had not told his doctor about
the supplement he was also taking.
Also, there is a growing corner of teh scientific community that believes
that the benefits of taking curcumin are, well, over-hyped. Prominent
among these is David Lowe, PhD in organic chemistry from Duke, who
has blogged that using curcumein will "waste your time". he points out,
as others have as well, that curcumin has a short bioactive shelf life and
that it is not easily absorbed in the human body.
In terms of bioavailability, other scientists have found that using
piperine, the active ingredient in black pepper enhances curcumin's
bioavailabity, making it many multiples stronger.
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|Curcumin inhibits the ability of herpes
simplex virus to infect.