Known for its vibrant colouring, turmeric is a versatile spice taking pride of place in Indian cuisine. However, there is much more to this spice than just its culinary appeal. Turmeric contains an abundance of curcumin, a compound with a significant impact on well-being. Keep reading to find out what you need to know.
Turmeric is a world-renowned spice known for its vibrant yellow colouring, rich taste, and prevalence in Indian cuisine. The condiment itself comes from the root (or rhizome) of the Curcuma longa plant, a member of the ginger family, and gives food a warm, bitter and black pepper-like taste. However, as we'll find out shortly, it isn't just the flavour that contributes to turmeric's worldwide acclaim.
Inside turmeric is an abundance of molecules called curcuminoids, and these potent phytochemicals may greatly influence well-being. In fact, the influence is so broad that modern research attributes the primary compound, curcumin, with areas including inflammation, heart health, and cognitive disorders.
Given the significant potential of curcumin, it's only right we spend some time getting to know the phytochemical. The compound has a versatile toolkit, from its prevalence inside turmeric to being a major ingredient in dietary supplements, cosmetics, and food flavourings.
Although primarily curcumin is a polyphenol (a pigment molecule responsible for giving turmeric its yellow colour), the molecule's role in well-being has attracted the attention of researchers and wellness enthusiasts alike.
A 2017 paper titled "Curcumin: A Review of Its' Effects on Human Health" outlined that most of its proposed benefits stem from oxidation and inflammation mechanisms. The review also suggests a critical advantage of curcumin is that "a relatively low dose can provide health benefits", a factor we'll explore in more detail.
When talking about curcumin, it would be remiss not to mention the family of compounds it belongs to—curcuminoids. This family of active pigments also contains demethoxycurcumin and bisdemethoxycurcumin, although curcumin is the main component and the most studied. Despite the interest in curcuminoids, they aren't the most accommodating phytochemicals. Not only do they have low bioavailability in humans, but they metabolise quickly, leading to a short half-life. Because of these challenges, many curcumin-focused supplements use secondary ingredients to improve uptake and capitalise on the compound's proposed wellness benefits.
Now we know why turmeric is much more than just a flavoursome spice, it's time to dive straight into the potential benefits to human health.
An aptly titled "mini-review" of the therapeutic effects of curcumin highlights the compound's potential role in areas including oxidation, microbial action, and inflammation. While it acknowledges that these areas show promise, the review also outlines the phytochemical's main shortcoming—bioavailability problems. That said, this evidence, combined with more recent studies involving atherosclerosis, points to a promising future.
Given the unfortunate prevalence of heart-related conditions, the protective influence of curcumin could prove pivotal. Thankfully, two studies, one from 2017 and another from 2020, highlight curcumin's therapeutic possibilities, linking the phytochemical to cardiac hypertrophy, heart failure, myocardial infarction and cardiovascular complications.,
The spice appears well-tolerated in humans, at least when used short term (1-3 months). However, there is a difference in outcomes regarding turmeric spice and concentrated curcumin supplements, with the latter increasing the possibility of nausea, upset stomach, dizziness and diarrhoea.
To limit the possibility of side effects, you shouldn't exceed the manufacturer's guidelines for dosing and start with a lower-than-expected dose to gauge how your body reacts.
Taking turmeric is straightforward, as you're probably using the spice in various meals. And, if you aren't, you'd be surprised how many foods include traces of curcumin. However, if you're looking for an alternative approach, consider turmeric drinks. Featuring a concentrated dose of turmeric alongside coconut, fresh ginger, lemon, and honey, these wellness shots have earned the title "Golden Milk".
Another convenient approach to turmeric intake is concentrated supplements. As an added bonus, many popular capsules or tablets also include secondary ingredients to improve the overall effect or complement the compound's wellness influence.
For example, our Immune Booster supplement not only includes CBD and vitamin A, but a carefully blended formula of echinacea, turmeric and ginger. Together, these elements support various areas of well-being while being simple to dose. This is the primary reason to choose turmeric supplements, as specific formulas make it easy to track your daily intake.
A mainstay of Indian cuisine, turmeric is a versatile spice with a plethora of potential. The key to making the most of this adaptable phytochemical is more extensive human trials and distinct dosing guidelines. Combined with bioavailability improving elements such as liposomes, the hope is a clearer picture of how turmeric can support heart health, inflammation, cognitive disorders and much more.
 Hewlings SJ, Kalman DS. Curcumin: A review of its effects on human health. Foods (Basel, Switzerland). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5664031/. Published October 22, 2017. Accessed June 13, 2022. [Source]
 Stohs SJ, Chen O, Ray SD, Ji J, Bucci LR, Preuss HG. Highly bioavailable forms of curcumin and promising avenues for curcumin-based research and application: A Review. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7144558/. Published March 19, 2020. Accessed June 13, 2022. [Source]
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 Marchio P, Guerra-Ojeda S, Vila JM, Aldasoro M, Victor VM, Mauricio MD. Targeting early atherosclerosis: A focus on oxidative stress and inflammation. Oxidative medicine and cellular longevity. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6636482/. Published July 1, 2019. Accessed June 14, 2022. [Source]
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