Turmeric is best known as a bright yellow culinary spice that’s native to Southeast Asia and India. But did you know that the turmeric plant belongs to the ginger family? Turmeric root and ginger may look similar but lend very different taste profiles and active components. Turmeric is a popular spice that can help fight inflammation, provide an abundance of antioxidants and add flavour to recipes, but its medicinal benefits are due to its active components, curcuminoids.
You may be thinking, but aren’t turmeric and curcumin the same thing? Keep reading while we outline the difference between the two, how to use each and who should consider taking a curcumin supplement.
What Is Turmeric?
Turmeric is a flowering plant that grows the turmeric root you find in the grocery store. As mentioned, turmeric contains active components known as curcuminoids. They are what gives turmeric its bright colour and flavour as well as its therapeutic properties and antioxidant profile. There are three curcuminoids in total, but curcumin is the most popular, most abundant, and most bioactive of the bunch. Therefore, when you use turmeric root or the ground-up spice, yes you are getting curcumin, but not in a concentrated form. This means it’s generally not as bioavailable or active enough to provide strong medicinal benefits. However, it is still great to use in the kitchen to boost antioxidants, fight inflammation, and add flavour and colour to your meals.
In supplement form, curcumin is extracted from the turmeric plant, providing a concentrated powder or liquid that offers a higher potency for medicinal applications. Being a natural herb, curcumin doesn’t have side effects but should be discussed with your health provider if you’re pregnant, breastfeeding or on medications.
What Is Turmeric Good For?
The medicinal benefits of turmeric can be chalked up to its anti-inflammatory response and antioxidant properties. Turmeric powder can be used in recipes, to make a turmeric latte or found in supplement form. However, if you’re looking for more potent benefits to help with a health concern or crank up your body’s antioxidant profile, a curcumin supplement would be the better choice.
When curcumin is extracted, it’s more concentrated, offering higher potency and therapeutic benefits, such as:
- Supports against brain disease, including age-related brain diseases
- Supports joint health and movement
- Enhances the body’s antioxidant capacity to support optimal cell growth
- Supports heart health
- Improves the body’s inflammation response.
Anyone with inflammation issues, who exercise often or have degenerative joint issues should consider taking a curcumin supplement because scientific research has shown that curcumin supplements can work like Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatories (NSAIDs) but without the side effects, of course. And it doesn’t stop there; studies have also concluded that may be more effective than ibuprofen and aspirin as an anti-inflammatory.
Many wonder if curcumin can help aid weight loss, and the answer is; that yes it can. Along with a healthy diet and exercise regimen curcumin can help you shed the last few pounds or lose fat. It’s also been shown to help blood sugar metabolism for those that are pre-diabetic, have insulin resistance or suffer from obesity or metabolic syndrome.
Lastly, curcumin has many skin health benefits when taken internally or applied topically. When applied topically it can slightly stain the skin, so be sure not to leave it on for too long. However, that’s a small price to pay considering its amazing skin benefits.
- The antioxidant properties allow curcumin to support wound healing, decrease skin inflammation, fight signs of aging and brighten the complexion.
- The anti-microbial properties curcumin possesses allow it to help detoxify the liver, which in turn can decrease acne and breakouts.
- The inflammatory compounds in curcumin may help with dermatitis, eczema and psoriasis.
Curcumin Supplement Formats
Turmeric is available as a spice and in capsule form; however, since curcumin is more desirable for therapeutic applications, it has more supplement formats on the market. Curcumin can be found in liquid, powder, chewable gummies, tablets, capsules and vegetable capsules.
- Liquid curcumin is highly bioavailable and can also be found in a liposomal form. Liquids can be held under your tongue and are formulated for quick absorption.
- Capsules and vegetable capsules are made to bypass stomach acid and are often mixed with other ingredients like black pepper to offer more bioavailability.
- Tablets are convenient; however, they can often break and are harder to swallow. They also aren’t formulated with absorption-enhancing ingredients.
- While tasty, gummies usually aren’t well absorbed and have added sugar which is less than desirable.
Curcumin supplements can be found with potencies ranging from 30-500mg, with the daily recommended dose being 500-1,000mg. Certain health concerns may require higher doses, so it may be beneficial to speak to a health care practitioner to find the correct dosage for you. You should also speak to your health practitioner if you are on blood thinners or anti-platelet medications and you should discontinue supplement use two weeks prior to any surgery because curcumin prevents blood from clotting.
Why Is Curcumin Mixed With Black Pepper?
You may have seen curcumin supplements or turmeric lattes with added black pepper and wonder why. Black pepper is often added because it enhances the absorption of the curcuminoid. When shopping for a curcumin supplement, check to make sure piperine is included on the ingredients list or the label has terms, such as “Curcumin 95”, “Enhanced” or “Theracumin”. This will ensure that your body can actually absorb and use the supplement.
Which Curcumin is Best?
With a plethora of curcumin and turmeric supplements on the market, it can be difficult to know which ones to trust. Shop for a clean, organically sourced curcumin that’s enhanced with black pepper like Naturopathic Labs Clean Curcumin 95 (Enhanced Triple Extract) to reap the most benefits. Naturopathic Labs is a non-GMO, non irradiated formulation that is made with Bioperine black pepper. Most curcumin supplements are vegan friendly so long as they’re encapsulated in a vegetable capsule. Virtually anyone can enjoy this supplement to maximize their antioxidant profile and get a dose of inflammatory and joint health benefits.
Disclaimer: The information in this article is intended for educational and informational purposes only and should not be considered as a substitute for medical advice. Please consult your practitioner prior to taking herbs or nutritional supplements.