“Circadian responses to chemo”

This morning I came across an intriguing article published recently in “The Scientist”: http://goo.gl/Hl4sCa

I’ve written a couple of posts about circadian rhythms before (for a reminder, see http://margaret.healthblogs.org/antioxidants-and-chemotherapy/biological-clock-and-bioavailabilty/) but haven’t thought about them in a while, I must confess. Well, I’m thinking about them today, that’s for sure. I mean, cancer cells appear to be more susceptible to chemotherapy when administered at certain times of day…And this new study tells us that the same occurs when cancer cells* are exposed to curcumin. How cool is that?


Excerpt: “…curcumin can activate a gene important to regulating the circadian clock…” Did you know that? I don’t think I did…Food for thought!

Here’s the link to the abstract on which the article is based. Incidentally, it was presented a couple of weeks ago at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research, so it’s hot off the press: http://goo.gl/gTB6t8 Warning: it’s quite technical!!!

Excerpt: “These results indicate, for the first time, that efficacy of curcumin is under circadian control and that the rhythm is lost at higher curcumin concentrations.” Now, if I have interpreted this sentence correctly, it means that we might be able to take less curcumin if we can figure out our circadian rhythm. Wouldn’t that be absolutely fantastique? 🙂

The main reason I take my curcumin in the evening, before supper, is because of all the water I have to drink in order to swallow all the capsules, which means that if I’m going out and about during the day, I might be spending a lot of my time looking for a bathroom…But if I know I’m going to be at home, I do try to split my dose (lunch and supper).

IMG_4774But what if my best curcumin-taking time of day were in the morning, not the afternoon or evening?

I’m seriously thinking about changing to the morning now…just to see what happens…

(* The tests in this new study were carried out on rat glioma cells–the C6 glioma cells mentioned in the abstract–not human cancer cells…So we need to look at the circadian rhythm of human cancer cells treated with curcumin…though I’d bet almost anything that we’d have similar results…)


  1. My herbalist said to take my cucurmin in the morning because it is in the ginger family and he seemed to think that it would keep you more awake at night…

  2. Hi Margaret; Thank you for this interesting article. I read the links and looked up a few. But, have you run across information on how to determine what is the best circadian rhythm time to take a supplement or med.

  3. Sorry…I don’t have any info on the best time of day to take supplements. To be honest, though, I don’t think there is an easy answer, since we are all different, with different genetic makeups.
    The only thing we can do, as far as I can see, is test this theory. So, say, for a couple of months you could take your supplements in the morning, then have blood tests done. Then change time of day for another couple of months and have blood tests done. And so on. It’s not a fast solution, for sure, but I don’t see what else would work.
    I’ve been taking my curc (etc.) in the evening, mostly, so I’m going to try the morning now…for a few months. We’ll see what happens.

  4. What’s not clear to me in all this is why change something that seems to be working? If taking supplements in the evening prevents progression till now, what are you hoping to achieve by taking them in the morning? Curcumin does not cure ( i have not read anything on this at least), it prevents further growth of cancerous cells, so as long as numbers are not going up (FLC/m-spike, …) curcumin is in essence doing what is is supposed to. Unless I am missing something?

  5. “These results indicate, for the first time, that efficacy of curcumin is under circadian control and that the rhythm is lost at higher curcumin concentrations.” This sentence from the abstract, that the rhythm is lost at higher curcumin concentrations, seems to me to be very important, and is not highlighted in the article from The Scientist Magazine. Maybe we take too much, rather than at the wrong time??? I have cut my dose back over the past year and take it morning and evening with little change in my blood work.

  6. I have taken lower doses of curcumin in the past…and my test results were not good. But I have never tried taking curcumin in the morning. I’m the first to agree with Mike about not rocking the boat, but it’s also true that if I could make my daily intake more effective by taking it in the morning (at least part of it), I think it’s worth a try. I’ll give it a whirl for two months, then I’ll have tests done…If no good comes of it, I’ll go right back to my old habits! 🙂

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