May 17 2007 post. Here it is, finally. I have been procrastinating about posting the protocol on my blog, even though I have written it out in countless private e-mails, mainly because I felt I should add a disclaimer, and, to be honest, I didn’t want to do that. The only reason I decided I needed to put a disclaimer here is because I have seen other alternative cancer treatment blogs do it.
So, first, let’s get the disclaimer out of the way: my blog presents information based on my own experience and research. I do NOT intend to tell others what to do, or to become a substitute for anybody’s healthcare provider. I am not a doctor, just a researcher who has come up with a protocol that so far has worked to keep my myeloma stable. I cannot be held responsible for any adverse effects resulting from the application of the information contained in my blog. So, for instance, if curcumin gives you a bit of diarrhea, don’t say I didn’t warn ya! (please see my Warnings Page).
Phew. Now that the disclaimer is out of the way, let’s get down to business. This is the protocol that I followed in January of 2006, when I first started taking curcumin, based on what I read etc.:
Week One: one gram of curcumin
Week Two: two grams of curcumin
Week Three: four grams of curcumin
Week Four (and thereafter): eight grams of curcumin
1. I will NOT recommend any specific curcumin brands. For one thing, I live in Italy, so my experience with U.S. brands is rather limited. For another, I do not want to sponsor any particular brand. Truth be told, I do not have a favourite brand. However, make sure your curcumin contains at least 95 % curcuminoids. Anything less than that is apparently useless.
(UPDATE (January 2008): well, okay, I finally did create a curcumin brands page, so please ignore the preceding paragraph. I was simply getting too many private and public requests for advice on this matter, and decided to go ahead and write out what I know thus far. See my curcumin brands page for that info)
2. Curcumin with or without bioperine (from black pepper)? That is an issue that I am still thinking about and researching. My capsules do contain bioperine, which apparently increase bioavailability. And it is true that my IgG count plus other markers have improved. So it’s up to you to decide.
(UPDATE: I tried curcumin without bioperine, summer 2007, and the experiment failed. That doesn’t mean that it won’t work for you, just that it didn’t work for me.)
3. Divide your curcumin intake into two or three doses a day, if possible. I am considering another experiment (for the fall): dividing my curcumin intake into four doses in order to keep curcumin in my bloodstream in a more constant manner. But I haven’t tried that yet, so I don’t know if it works. For now, I am sticking to the twice a day protocol.
(UPDATE: I am now not convinced that dividing the dose into two or more doses per day is such a good idea. My friend Sherlock takes her curcumin all at once, in the evening, and her most recent test results showed an IgG decrease of 18%. She believes in throwing an “atomic bomb” (made of curcumin!) at the myeloma cells. I think I agree, but more work is needed. UPDATE on the update: I now believe in the “atomic bomb” theory…but only for curcumin, mind you. I am a pacifist in real life!)
4. If possible, take curcumin on an empty stomach. If your stomach rumbles, and you would prefer to take it with food, please leave me a comment or write me an e-mail, and I will get back to you with some advice. And please let me know if you experience any weird side effects, so I can post them on my Warnings Page. Thanks!
5. Other curcumin-takers and I take our curcumin with some sort of fat, as follows: flaxseed oil or fish oil capsules. Curcumin has poor bioavailability (see my Bioavailability Page), so until researchers come up with a more bioavailable formula, we will simply have to rely on our own research and the experience of others. Based on that experience etc., it appears to be best to take curcumin WITH some sort of oil capsule, so it will be better absorbed.
6. Since January, I have been taking quercetin about 15 minutes before curcumin. See my page on quercetin for more details. I now take one gram of quercetin a day.
7. Before taking curcumin, check with your healthcare provider, especially if you are doing chemotherapy. Also, check my Warnings Page, I repeat. Some folks should NOT take it, as a precaution.
8. Last but not least, have blood tests done before and after you try the initial eight-week protocol. Otherwise, how will you know that curcumin works for you? And please keep me posted! Thank you!
May 18 2007 post. My Curcumin Protocol (Continued). Since posting my protocol, I have received a few questions that I would like to address. Yes, it’s true, I HAVE done a lot of research on curcumin, but the more I do, the more I discover there is to do!, which is a very good thing, of course. As Mahatma Gandhi said, Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.
One of the questions concerns why a curcumin-taker should build up slowly to eight grams (or more, actually; I know a few people who take 10-12 grams). As with any substance except perhaps for water, I think it’s a good idea to see how our body reacts to it. What if you began growing a second nose or something? Seriously, though, it’s merely a precaution. I personally have had no bad reactions to curcumin, even when I went up to nine grams of powder at one point last year. But a few people have reported diarrhea, which perhaps can be taken care of by cutting back on fiber intake (an MD Anderson nurse suggestion), and one person developed some kidney trouble, which may (or may not) have been caused by curcumin, even though Prof. Aggarwal replied that curcumin has a protective effect on the kidneys. And, in fact, I have never read of curcumin affecting the kidneys. But, hey, you never know, we are all different and react differently to the exact same thing. So, for those reasons, I think it’s best to err on the side of caution and build up to eight grams slowly.
A listserv friend, who plans to start taking curcumin soon, wrote about having chronic pain and headaches. I don’t recall if I have written anything about headaches on my blog, but this is what happened to me. I used to have horrendous headaches almost daily. I think they might have been caused by my very high blood viscosity (that seems to be one of my main MM symptoms), which essentially means that I have thick blood. Well, curcumin is a natural blood-thinner. Not long after I began taking curcumin, my headaches stopped. Gone. Poof! Just like that. I still get occasional mild headaches, probably because my blood viscosity is still on the high side, but nothing like those terribly painful pre-curcumin ones. I hope curcumin will take care of my friend’s headaches, too.
Another potential benefit: arthritic pain. Through Prof. Aggarwal, I met an Italian urologist who works in a Tuscan hospital. A wonderful man. He just sent me three books that he has written on curcumin and prostate cancer. Fascinating, well-written and containing historical and etymological information, which always makes me as happy as a little kid opening birthday presents. There is also some very useful information on curcumin bioavailability, so I will soon be posting a few comments on that issue. At any rate, he told me that he takes curcumin for his arthritis. And that rang a bell. Before I took curcumin (and I know I posted a few words on this topic, but it doesn’t hurt to reiterate a point, sometimes), I had a difficult time walking up the stairs in my house. I had to go up slowly, and pause now and again. My knees hurt and made scary creaky noises. I now dart up my stairs like an adolescent mountain goat. No problem whatsoever. No more creaky noises, no more pain. Another stupid thing: I used to have to sit on a step stool in order to put laundry inside my washing machine (in Italy, we have front loaders), because it hurt me to kneel down. I now can kneel with no problem, and pick up things from the floor (like cat bowls) without any trouble. There are studies on curcumin and arthritis, I have discovered. I am not surprised.
There is no denying that I am obsessed with curcumin. But with good reason. Curcumin is keeping me stable AND giving me many side benefits, including, as I have reported elsewhere, a substantial decrease in cholesterol, which is almost normal now (yippee!) for the first time in years. I checked as far back as 1999: it was 73 mg/dL HIGHER then. Plus, I am mentally more alert. I actually remember things now. I used to be such a scatterbrain: I would write notes to remember things and then forget where I put them. Check out the studies on curcumin and Alzheimer’s disease. Curcumin may prevent AD, which comes as no surprise to me. The AD-curcumin topic would merit a post of its own.
May 19 2007 post. I should have emphasized the following point more forcefully: before taking curcumin, or any other substance for that matter, I think it’s a good idea to speak with your healthcare provider, even if you are NOT doing chemotherapy. In January of 2006, my husband and I took the curcumin-myeloma studies to my former haematologist (who retired in August) and discussed the matter with him. At the time, he was suggesting that I do two cycles of Velcade, then an autologous SCT (stem cell transplant) in the summer of 2006. Happily, none of that ever came to pass, thanks to curcumin.
His reactions during that January meeting gave me the distinct impression that he was sceptical, but he did tell me to go ahead with the initial eight-week curcumin protocol. However, he added that I would have to start chemo if curcumin did not work. At the time, I said, “sure, okay.” Of course, curcumin DID work, and, as a result, my surprised (I think!) haematologist informed me that he had started sprinkling turmeric over his food. But the point is, I didn’t start taking curcumin without informing my doctor. I should add that I felt (feel!) so strongly about curcumin that I would have followed the eight-week protocol even if he had advised me against it. I can be stubborn at times! But the bottom line is: I feel that it is best to be open with our doctors, even if we think they will disapprove.
Of course, nobody can predict the long-term effects of curcumin and the other substances that I am taking or plan to take. So, while I remain cheerfully (and stubbornly!) confident that I will remain stable on my protocol, only time will tell.
Update (November 2008). In January-March 2008 Sherlock and I tested BioCurcumax, or BCM-95. Allegedly a more bioavailable form of curcumin. Well, it didn’t work for us. See my March 18 2008 post. My markers have not recovered since then. Bummer. I had high hopes for BCM-95. From now on I will stick to C3 Complex. Period.