Most of us are familiar with turmeric – the bright yellow spice commonly used in many Asian cuisines. Turmeric has also been used in traditional Indian Ayurvedic medicine to effect cures for a variety of ailments for over a thousand years.
You may not be as familiar with curcumin, or you may hear the terms turmeric and curcumin used interchangeably, however, there are very important distinctions between the two, especially if you are looking for specific health benefits. While turmeric is a distinct and flavoursome spice, and perfectly safe to consume, it doesn’t have the same potent health benefits as its prized extract curcumin.
What is Turmeric?
Turmeric is a plant form the ginger family, native to Southeast Asia. When people refer to turmeric they are generally talking about the powdered spice which is made by grinding up the root of the turmeric plant. The resulting powder is bright yellow in colour and has an aromatic scent and slightly bitter taste. It is widely used in curries and other Indian dishes.
What is Curcumin?
Curcumin is the active compound that is found within turmeric. It is this compound that is responsible for turmeric’s anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, antiseptic and antioxidant properties.
So, can you get all the benefits of curcumin by just eating straight turmeric? Unfortunately, the answer to this is no. Curcumin only makes up about 2-5% of turmeric so you would need to be consuming an awful lot to get the recommended dose of curcumin to be effective.
Fortunately, curcumin can be extracted from turmeric. This extract can be made into an easy-to-take curcumin supplement, providing the necessary amount of curcumin needed for maximum results.
The one issue with curcumin is that it is not that easily absorbed by the body. Consumed on its own, most curcumin passes through our bodies without being absorbed into the bloodstream. The solution to this is to add the ingredient piperine. Piperine is a compound of black pepper and studies show that it increases the absorption of curcumin by 2000%(1)
Turmeric’s active compound curcumin has many scientifically proven health benefits, such as the potential to prevent heart disease, Alzheimers and cancer. It’s powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties may also help improve symptoms of arthritis and depression.
If you are looking at supplementation, look for a product that contains high quality curcumin and black pepper for maximum absorption like abeeco's Super Strength Turmeric 16000
(1) Shoba G, Joy D, Joseph T, Majeed M, Rajendran R, Srinivas PS. Influence of piperine on the pharmacokinetics of curcumin in animals and human volunteers. Planta Med. 1998;64:353–356.