Curcumin: Everything You Need to Know About Turmeric Extract

By Roy Krebs

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Turmeric (not "toomeric" or "tumeric") has been used in ancient Ayurvedic medicine for over 4,000 years and is still widely used to treat conditions from cuts on the skin to cancer.

You probably know turmeric as the flavorful spice that gives Indian curries it distinctive yellow color.

Since the 1900's scientists have published over 11,000  studies documenting turmeric's wide-ranging health benefits, making it one of the world's most well-researched natural health remedies. 

But the real secret to turmeric's success is in the compound curcumin.

Curcumin is the powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compound that has been shown to benefit almost every system in your body – your skin, metabolism, heart and blood vessels, and even your brain!

Turmeric and curcumin are two of the hottest compounds in natural health today.

Today I'm going to explain the difference, explain curcumin's health benefits, and tell you how to find the best curcumin supplement.

lowdown on Curcumin supplements

Turmeric vs Curcumin: What’s the difference?

Turmeric comes from the rhizome of the plant Curcuma longa – a flowering plant native to Asia.

When the root is dried and processed is contains about 2-5% curcumin -- the active compound with the most health benefits.

Curcumin is classified as a ‘polyphenol,’ a class of natural plant-based substances well-known for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects in the human body.

Here’s what experts are saying about it…

“Turmeric is arguably the most powerful herb on the planet at fighting and potentially reversing disease,” wrote Dr Axe. [1]

Both the ancient Chinese and Indian systems of medicine have recognized curcumin's beneficial properties for thousands of years, and modern research suggests it may be one of nature's most powerful potential healers.” [2] -- Dr. Joseph Mercola

As I mentioned, curcumin works at the cellular level where it interacts with enzymes that regulate important functions of the body.

This is why its benefits extend to preventing and treating so many diverse conditions.

I personally use curcumin every single day, and after I tell you about some of the best, research-backed health benefits, I think you'll understand why curcumin deserves a place in your daily health regimen too.

The Benefits of Curcumin

benefits of curcumin supplements

Curcumin Is a natural anti-inflammatory and antioxidant

Curcumin might be the most powerful natural anti-inflammatory we know of.

When the body is damaged in any way, whether that from injury, illness, exposure to environmental toxins, or damage caused by oxidative stress, inflammation is the body’s first response.

It’s your body’s way of stepping up to repair and heal, and common inflammation symptoms are things like feeling hot, swelling, and pain.

When short-lived, Inflammation is a natural process that actually helps the body heal and function at its best.

But problems arise when the healing process is incomplete and when the body is in an inflamed state for too long.

This is called chronic, or long-lasting Inflammation.

It's a complicated biochemical process that has been linked to chronic conditions including:

  • Heart disease
  • Cancer
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Arthritis

The good news is that curcumin can help to prevent or improve all these conditions because it suppresses inflammation at the level of the enzymes that produce inflammation.  

In fact, studies have shown that Curcumin is as at least, if not more effective, than common medications, like aspirin, ibuprofen, and diclofenac in treating inflammation and reducing pain. [3, 4]

It's no wonder experts are calling curcmin “nature’s miracle compound.”

Related: 10 Best Anti-Inflammatory Herbs and How To Use Them

Curcumin lowers blood sugar

Bad diets, growing waistlines, and unhealthy blood sugar levels are some of the most common health problems that we face in the developed world.

The increase of insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome and diabetes is a global epidemic causing millions of deaths every year.

There is mounting evidence the curcumin could help to maintain normal blood sugar levels.

In one study pre-diabetics were given curcumin capsules or a placebo for nine months. A significant number of the subjects on the placebo developed Type 2 diabetes compared to none of those taking curcumin.

The sugar metabolism of those on curcumin had also improved. [5]

Curcumin improves brain function

Studies show that Curcumin could improve your general brain health and memory.

Older Indians who regularly consumed curcumin in curries throughout their lifetime have better cognitive performance and a lower incidence of Alzheimer’s disease than people in the Western world. [6]

You can read more about the latest research on curcumin and brain health here:

Beyond the Research: New Study Shows Daily Curcumin Supplementation Can Improve Memory and Attention (by 28%!)

Curcumin has also shown promise in treating depression. 

A study found that curcumin was as effective as a well-known antidepressant in treating major depression. At the same time curcumin is safer, with fewer side effects.  

If you are experiencing mild depression it is definitely worth taking a curcumin supplement. [7]

Related: 11 Proven Ways To Generate More Brain Cells, Improve Memory, and Boost Mood

Curcumin reduces the risk of heart attacks and strokes

Curcumin has two further benefits that can protect you against heart disease and a stroke, besides reducing inflammation in blood vessels.

It slows blood clotting and may reduce cholesterol levels.

Polyphenols like curcumin are recognized for reducing the clumping of blood platelets which contributes to blocked blood vessels. Curcumin in particular modifies the production of an enzyme that promotes blood clotting.

One study demonstrated that curcumin for 3 days before and 5 days after surgery lowered the risk of a heart attack after bypass surgery.

If you have a bleeding disorder or are on prescription blood-thinning agents, including aspirin and ibuprofen, I suggest that you consult your medical practitioner before supplementing with curcumin.  

Another potential heart health benefit of curcumin is that it could help to maintain normal cholesterol levels.

Studies have shown that curcumin was effective in reducing the levels of the “bad” LDL cholesterol in blood as well as increasing levels of “good” HDL. [8, 9]

Curcumin benefits

Curcumin and cancer prevention and treatment

This is a more controversial topic in the research, but based on the available studies the evidence is promising.

Indians have much lower rates of the most common cancers in the US – breast, prostate, colon and lung.  This is partly attributed to the curcumin in their diets.

On various cellular levels, curcumin could lower the risk of a number of cancers or slow down their progression.

Research is still in its early stages but studies have shown the curcumin can:

  • Inhibit cancer growth before it starts [10]
  • Destroy cancer cells and prevent them from spreading
  • Interrupt the growth of additional blood vessels that feed the cancer cells. [11]

Curcumin supports healthy skin

The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of curcumin can reduce skin cell damage caused by sun exposure, pollution and other toxins.  

Curcumin has been used in India in pastes, plasters, and ointments for centuries to promote wound healing.  

Recent studies have shown that curcumin can improve many skin conditions such as acne, dermatitis, itching and psoriasis – either taken orally or applied to directly to the skin. [12]

Try cucumin to keep your skin looking young and healthy!

The Dosage Problem with Curcumin Supplements

At this point you should be convinced that turmeric, with its active ingredient curcumin, is truly an incredible substance with many health benefits.

And at this point you might be asking: “what is the best way to incorporate curcumin into MY diet?”

Unfortunately this is not as easy as picking up some turmeric powder from the grocery store and adding it you your meals.

That’s because when you add natural turmeric to your food it contains only about  3% curcumin.

Unless it is combined with another substance, you only absorb about 1% of the curcumin.

And of that tiny amount that makes it into your bloodstream, your liver metabolizes it rapidly - your body only has about a 2-hour window to reap the benefits!

How much curcumin should you take?

To really experience the benefits of curcumin you need to take dosages of at least 500 mg of turmeric extract daily for it to make a difference to your general health.  

You might even want to take more if you want to use it to treat a specific condition. 

I don’t recommend using turmeric because of the absorption issues outlined above, but even turn to curcumin supplements instead, there’s a good chance they contain only a fraction of this dose.

Just like how most medicinal mushroom supplements don’t contain the science-tested amounts of the active ingredients, many of the turmeric and curcumin supplements on the market are cutting you short and not accurately listing the ingredients on the label.

In fact, a number of products tested by consumerLab.com tested at less than 50% of the active compounds that a high quality curcumin product provides.

To truly get the potent health benefits of curcumin, you need to take a high quality supplement with the science-tested doses and maximum bioavailability, otherwise you’re just wasting your money.

Before we get to the best curcumin supplements, let’s talk about improving curcumin bioavailability.

Combining Curcumin with bioperine (black pepper extract)

Scientists discovered that when curcumin is combined with black pepper the absorption of curcumin is greatly enhanced – and it stays in the bloodstream longer. 

When bioperine, an extract of black pepper, was combined with curcumin its bioavailability was 20 times higher. [13]   

This may be one of the reasons why the benefits of curcumin are clearly seen in the Indian population - black pepper is the other common ingredient in curries.

If you choose to use turmeric powder, remember to add some black pepper when you cook with turmeric or have your golden turmeric milk.

The Best Curcumin Supplements

The key to picking the best curcumin supplement is making sure it is both:

  1. Optimized for absorption
  2. Contains the science-proven dosages for maximum benefits

The absolute best curcumin supplement I know of is administered in a liquid form encased in a micelle - a special type of molecule developed to increase the bioavailability of medicines. 

This novel curcumin formula goes by the trade name NovaSOL® Curcumin.

Just two small capsules of NovaSOL® delivers the equivalent of the maximum dose of curcumin of 10 to 15 grams per day.  

You would have to take more than 25 capsules of conventional Turmeric powder to get the same amount of curcumin as in this scientifically developed product!

A study showed that in NovaSOL® Curcumin the curcumin is 185x more bioavailable than from natural turmeric. It also remained in the bloodstream for over 24 hours. [14]

I believe that this product finally unlocks the full benefits of curcumin to improve your general health and to help prevent or relieve chronic inflammatory conditions, heart disease, cancer, as well as brain and blood sugar disorders.

This is the patented liquid curcumin we use in Natural Stacks Liquid Curcumin with Organic Coconut Oil.

The low-down on turmeric and curcumin

With all the research going on, I believe that in the future we are going to see ever-increasing use of curcumin in preventing and reversing disease. Especially because it doesn’t have the same toxic effects as synthetic drugs.

However, if you are going to supplement with curcumin be careful what you buy. Make sure that it is a high-quality product.  It should have 95% curcuminoids and be presented in a format that increases bioavailability.

At the moment the best curcumin supplements on the market are those containing NovaSOL® Curcumin.   

  1. https://draxe.com/turmeric-benefits/
  2. https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/03/02/common-spice-protects-and-rebuild-brain-cells-after-stroke.aspx
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15489888
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22407780
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22773702/
  6. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1064748117305110#bib0025
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23832433
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19151449/
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1291482/
  10. http://cancerpreventionresearch.aacrjournals.org/content/4/3/354.long
  11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18479807
  12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27213821
  13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9619120
  14. http://novasolcurcumin.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/NovaSOL-Curcumin-Clinical-Study.pdf
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