Curcumin prevents progression from pre-diabetes to diabetes

Generally speaking, my strategies for approaching complex chronic health problems such as diabetes is multi-pronged–whole foods low glycemic diet, increase physical activity (especially resistance training, which has an insulin like effect), stress management (to reduce autonomic nervous system imbalance, reduce sympathetic tone, increase parasympathetic tone), and botanical-nutritional supplementation. However, such complex interventions are challenging to study with conventional clinical trial type approaches, and single interventions, such as 1 nutritional supplement, tend not to work as well as global complex diet and lifestyle interventions. So I was very impressed to run across a study in a diabetes journal (read the abstract here) in which 9 months of supplementing a fairly modest dose (< 1 gram per day) of curcumin (concentrated from the spice turmeric, the basis of virtually all curry dishes), prevented progression from pre-diabetes to diabetes.  In the placebo group, after 9 months, 16% of the trial participants had progressed from pre-diabetes to full blown type 2 diabetes. In the curcumin supplemented group, none progressed to type 2 diabetes. This is a pretty impressive result for a single supplement intervention. Although it is possible to fully reverse pre-diabetes and often even type 2 diabetes with a comprehensive nutritional-lifestyle program (and sometimes the medication Metformin as well–after all, integrative medicine is here to stay), its clear that curcumin supplementation is a useful component of any blood sugar normalizing strategy. Even insulin resistance (the earliest form of pre-diabetes) increases risk for many of the major modern life shortening diseases such as heart disease, Alzheimer’s dementia, and cancer, so it is well worth working to reverse.  And as I like to say, “a curry a day keeps the oncologist away”!