Nano Curcumin: Water-Soluble and More Effective Than Curcumin
The next time you down a cup of turmeric latte with its enticing golden hue, think about this: The turmeric root (called a rhizome) has been used for millennia by Asian Indians to prevent and treat disease.
The Nature of Curcumin and Curcumin Benefits
Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, is also what causes its distinctive golden color. So what is curcumin good for? Curcumin benefits include antibiotic, antiviral, anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects. Other reported benefits are in the treatment of pain, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. Curcumin does not appear to cause significant side effects, and that makes it very attractive as a therapeutic agent.
Best Methods to Make Curcumin Water-Soluble and Bioavailable
Even the best therapeutics are not effective if they fail to dissolve in water, which means that they can’t be carried through the blood. On its own, curcumin is not water-soluble and tends to be metabolized quickly.
To make curcumin water-soluble, various types of formulations have been tested in which curcumin is associated with substances such as nanoparticles, liposomes and piperine. A lot of research has focused on studying the solubility and bioavailability (how much curcumin is released at the sites in the body where it is needed) of curcumin as part of these formulations, vs. free curcumin (not attached to nanoparticles). Most of the studies described below involved giving curcumin formulations or free curcumin orally to humans.Nano curcumin consists of curcumin that is either encapsulated by or linked with nanoparticles, which may be made of hydrogel, poly lactic-co-glycolic acid or a protein called apotransferrin.
Nano curcumin formulations using hydrogel nanoparticles have been shown to greatly increase the water solubility of the compound, leading to the release of up to 95 percent of curcumin inside the cell. Nano curcumin consisting of curcumin linked to PLGA nanoparticles increased the bioavailability of curcumin by 16 times and curcumin linked to PLGA-PEG nanoparticles increased it by 55 times compared with free curcumin. Another form of nano curcumin called theracumin increased the effectiveness of curcumin by 27 times.
Yet another nano curcumin formulation consists of curcumin that is loaded onto nanoparticles made of apotransferrin. This releases significant concentrations of curcumin gradually over a relatively long time, which could be beneficial for some applications. After six hours, only half of the original amount of curcumin had been released from the nanoparticles.
Similarly, curcumin linked to or encapsulated by liposomes, micelles and phospholipids is more water-soluble and more bioavailable. Liposomes are frequently used as drug carriers because they make compounds more water-soluble. Curcumin encapsulated in liposomes was two to seven times more bioavailable than curcumin alone. Liposomes consisting of propylene glycol led to the highest uptake of curcumin compared with that of conventional liposomes and free curcumin.
Another method of making curcumin more water-soluble requires attaching it to piperine, the active substance in pepper. This method increased the bioavailability of curcumin by 2,000 percent.
How Does Nano Curcumin Improve Curcumin’s Benefits?
As described above, nano curcumin improves the bioavailability of curcumin, which increases the benefits of curcumin.
For example, the anti-cancer effect of curcumin is increased by attaching it to nanoparticles because of its greater water-solubility and better uptake into cancer cells. This improved profile of nano curcumin makes it promising as a novel cancer drug candidate. Given the host of diseases on which curcumin has an effect, the potential applications of nano curcumin in drug development are enormous.