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Curcumin's Influence on Cytokine Storm

iStock-637655376The end stage of virus infections often correlates with the onset of a cytokine storm. This uncontrolled release of proinflammatory cytokines by the body’s immune system involves more than 150 known inflammatory mediators. There are many factors involved in the progression of what begins as a healthy immune response to a state of amplified cytokine production. 

Cytokines signal immune cells such as T-cells and macrophages to travel to the site of infection when the immune system is fighting a pathogen. This signaling activates those cells, stimulating them to produce more cytokines. The feedback loop is normally managed efficiently by the body, but in some cases the process becomes unregulated, with too many immune cells activating in a single location.

This exaggerated immune response is not completely understood but could be attributed to the body encountering a new, highly pathogenic attacker. Cytokine storms have the potential to cause significant damage to various tissues and organs. For example, if a cytokine storm occurs in the lungs, macrophages and fluids may accumulate, eventually obstructing the airways.

A study looked at how curcumin influences cytokine release and cytokine storm. The article reported on the effects of curcumin on cytokine expression in a mouse model of virus-induced acute respiratory distress syndrome. The authors stated: “Curcumin blocks cytokine release, most importantly the key pro-inflammatory cytokines, interleukin-1, interleukin-6 and tumor necrosis factor-α. The suppression of cytokine release by curcumin correlates with clinical improvement in experimental models of disease conditions where a cytokine storm plays a significant role in mortality.” The research team concluded that curcumin may offer support to those experiencing cytokine storms. 

One challenge when using curcumin is that it is poorly absorbed across the gut lining. While the study authors propose using IV curcumin preparations it may be of value to consider the use of oral curcumin that provides increased bioavailability via dual phase polar/non-polar emulsion technology, which has been shown in a human clinical trial to be 5x and 6x better absorbed than phospholipid or oil preparations respectively.

 

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