What Is Curcumin & What Are the Benefits?
Turmeric is all the rave these days when it comes to detoxification support for your body. It’s everywhere! It’s being put in lattes, sprinkled on food, and simmered into soups. However, the real star of the detoxification show is curcumin.
Turmeric is only about 5% curcuminods, however curcumin makes up 90% of the curcuminoid content in turmeric.
I am about to tell you all about this powerful superfood and its proven health benefits, such as supporting a healthy inflammatory response, and how you can take full advantage of this super-healthy spice! Let’s jump into the spicy world of curcumin.
What is Curcumin?
Curcumin is one of the three main active compounds, or curcuminoids, that give turmeric its bright yellow color, alongside demethoxycurcumin and bisdemethozycurcumin.1
Turmeric has a long history of use in eastern medicine. It has been used topically on the skin for wounds, acne, and parasitic infections; administered orally for colds and urinary tract diseases; and even inhaled for chronic rhinitis and inflammation in the nose due to hay fever.2
Turmeric is used in curries in India, as an antiseptic in Malaysia, served in drinks in Korea, and added to cheese, butter, and mustard for color in the U.S.3
As I mentioned, curcumin makes up 90% of the curcuminoid content in turmeric, though very little it is in turmeric spices and supplements. That means you won’t get any of the benefits unless you spend all day eating only turmeric. Consuming the extract in the form of a supplement is the best way to enjoy the benefits of curcumin.4
Benefits of Curcumin
The list of curcumin’s benefits is very long! Curcumin supports healthy inflammation levels and promotes optimal cognitive function. It also supports your cardiovascular system as well as a healthy blood pressure. Most importantly, it supports your overall health even if you’re dealing with a chronic illness such as autoimmune disease and arthritis. Let’s review the benefits of this powerful component of turmeric.
Curcumin is a Free Radical Fighter
Our bodies often produce free radicals during the digestive process when it turns nutrients from our food into energy.5 In small amounts, free radicals serve important functions such as detoxification and healing wounds.
They also support the heart when it’s under stress. However, too much of a good thing can be bad. Chronic stress can lead to increased levels of free radicals that create oxidative stress, which can lead to heart disease. Curcumin shows promising results as a free radical fighter.6
Curcumin acts in a number of different ways to fight free radicals, including:
- Increasing the activity of antioxidants in your body, such as superoxide dismutase (SOD), glutathione peroxidase (GSH) and lipid peroxides.
- Assists in scavenging various forms of free radicals, including reactive oxygen and nitrogen species.7
- Helps inhibit certain enzymes, such as lipoxygenase/cyclooxygenase and xanthine hydrogenase/oxidase.8
- Boosts the breaking apart of free radicals so they can be transported out of your body as waste.9
That’s not all! Aside from being a free radical fighter, curcumin supports healthy inflammation levels, optimal cognitive function, your cardiovascular system, and overall health even if you’re dealing with a chronic illness such as autoimmune disease and arthritis? Let’s go deeper.
Curcumin Promotes a Healthy Inflammatory Response
Inflammation is the root cause of a very long list of chronic diseases and conditions. It plays a key role in Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, arthritis, diabetes, obesity, depression, and fatigue. It is involved in nearly every modern chronic illness, including many autoimmune diseases. In fact, the more inflammation you have, the further along the autoimmune spectrum you’re likely to be.
Many people turn to NSAIDS such as Motrin®, Advil®, and Aleve® to fight inflammation. However, these can promote ulcers and bleeding in the stomach.10 They can also damage the gut microbiome by killing off the beneficial bacteria in your gut, causing even more inflammation.
To fight inflammation at its source, I first recommend changing your diet and lifestyle, including eating anti-inflammatory foods, repairing your gut, reducing your toxic burden, healing your infections, and relieving your stress. My next tool in supporting a healthy inflammatory response is Liposomal Curcumin.
Curcumin Supports Brain Health
There is growing evidence of the benefits curcumin has on brain health. Recent studies have shown that it inhibits the formation of amyloid protein in the brain, which is prevalent in those with Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases, including depression.
You may know that your brain releases endorphins when you exercise, and that endorphins make you happy. Your brain also has a powerful protein that supports healthy nerve cell growth and maintenance called BDNF, or brain-derived neurotrophic factor. This protein plays a role in memory formation and storage, and it has also been found to play a role in relieving depression.11 Think of BDNF as fertilizer for the brain.
A natural way to boost BDNF is through continuous exercise. Endorphins give you an instant rush of happiness. However, BDNF levels increase with constant exercise that gets your heart pumping. In recent studies, curcumin has been found to increase brain levels of BDNF.12 By doing this, it can promote a healthy brain response to stress and anxiety.
Curcumin and Autoimmune Disease
Curcumin plays an important role in supporting a healthy inflammatory response, a healthy immune system, and healthy aging without the gut-damaging side effects of popular over-the-counter remedies such as NSAIDs.
It can positively impact the expression of genes that regulate systemic inflammation, which is a major factor in anyone with autoimmunity.13
Inflammation is at the root of nearly every modern chronic disease, including autoimmune diseases such as Crohn’s disease and multiple sclerosis. That is why I recommended curcumin to my autoimmune patients.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, turmeric can be added to nearly everything imaginable. Including a dash of turmeric in your next meal certainly wouldn’t hurt, however relatively large quantities are needed to get the full health benefits of this powerful spice.14
This is because turmeric spices contain about 5% curcumin, while extracts can contain around 95% curcumin. Not only that, turmeric is not easily absorbed by your body. Only about 1% of that 5% is typically absorbed!
With that being said, there are still some absolutely delicious recipes involving turmeric that you should try out. Try this Lemon Turmeric Marinade for your favorite protein or vegetables, then finish off lunch with a refreshing Turmeric Ginger Iced Tea and Ginger Spritzer. The color and flavor of turmeric stand out in their own right!
You could eat turmeric all day and still not get all the benefits of curcumin, which is why taking a supplement is the most efficient way to reap all the benefits it can offer. However, most supplements simply don’t work. Because there’s so little curcumin in turmeric, most turmeric supplements on the market have very low percentages of the useful bioactive compounds that offer all of turmeric’s wonderful health benefits.
Even if the supplements do contain the correct bioactive compounds, curcumin has famously poor absorption, biodistribution, metabolism, and bioavailability. What little can be absorbed is almost always metabolized by your liver before it can do any good.
With traditional supplements, the desirable nutrients are not in a form that can survive digestion. These inferior types of curcumin are very likely to be oxidized, neutralized, and even expelled before your body can utilize this powerful supplement. That’s why I recommend a liposomal form of curcumin.
Since curcumin is fat soluble, taking it in liposomal form provides your body with the lipids curcumin needs in order to enhance bioavailability. That’s why I formulated Liposomal Curcumin, the most bioavailable form of curcumin on the market today. And it tastes great – like an orange popsicle!
The curcumin is wrapped in liposomes made of healthy fats, which exponentially increases the rate of curcumin absorption. The micelle liposomal form used in this blend is easily absorbed by your body and resists breaking down for maximum systemic potency.
With a potency of 500mg of real, naturally extracted curcumin per serving, Liposomal Curcumin is already miles ahead of other curcumin supplements on the market. Liposomal Curcumin solves the problem of poor absorbability and bioavailability by surrounding the curcumin molecule with a thin layer of healthy fat from omega-9 sunflower oil rich in phosphatidylcholine.
This micelle ‘pocket’ creates a liposome that is both readily absorbed by your intestinal lining, as well as protected from metabolism by your liver so that it may travel freely throughout your body to the cells and tissues that need it the most.
With it’s delicious flavor, Liposomal Curcumin makes a tasty addition to any smoothie, juice, or fruity recipe. Try using this supplement in tasty sweet recipes such as this non-dairy Tropical Yogurt.
Regardless of how you include it, curcumin is too powerful a tool to leave out of your daily supplement regimen! Curcumin is my first choice for supporting a healthy inflammatory response and everyday wellness. Why not make it part of your daily routine, too
FAQ About Curcumin
Are turmeric and curcumin the same thing?
Are turmeric and curcumin the same thing?
No. Turmeric is a spice in the ginger family. Curcumin is one of the three main active compounds, or curcuminoids, that give turmeric its bright yellow color, alongside demethoxycurcumin and bisdemethozycurcumin.
What are the benefits of curcumin?
What are the benefits of curcumin?
Curcumin supports healthy inflammation levels and promotes optimal cognitive function. It also supports your cardiovascular system as well as a healthy blood pressure. Most importantly, it supports your overall health even if you’re dealing with a chronic illness such as autoimmune disease and arthritis.
How much turmeric do I need?
How much turmeric do I need?
Turmeric spices contain about 5% curcumin, while extracts and most supplements can contain around 95% curcumin. However, turmeric is not easily absorbed by your body. Only about 1% of that 5% is typically absorbed! You would have to eat pounds of it to reap the benefits. That’s why I recommend taking it in liposomal form.
- Anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin, a major constituent of Curcuma longa. A preclinical and clinical research. Julie Jurenka. Research Gate. 2009.
- Safety and anti-inflammatory activity of curcumin: a component of tumeric (Curcuma longa) . Nita Chainani-Wu. National Library of Medicine. 2003.
- Curcumin: A Review of Its’ Effects on Human Health. Susan J. Hewlings and Douglas S. Kalman. National Library of Medicine. 2017.
- Turmeric, the Golden Spice. Sahdeo Prasad and Bharat B. Aggarwal. National Library of Medicine. 2011.
- Free Radicals: Definition, Causes, Antioxidants, and Cancer. Lynne Eldridge, MD. Verywell Health. 2020.
- Curcumin and the cellular stress response in free radical-related diseases. Vittorio Calabrese, Timothy E Bates, Cesare Mancuso, Carolin Cornelius, Bernardo Ventimiglia, Maria Teresa Cambria, Laura Di Renzo, Antonino De Lorenzo, Albena T Dinkova-Kostova. National LIbrary of Medicine. 2008.
- Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin. Venugopal P Menon and Adluri Ram Sudheer. National LIbrary of Medicine. 2007.
- Curcumin inhibits tumor growth and angiogenesis in ovarian carcinoma by targeting the nuclear factor-kappaB pathway. Yvonne G Lin, Ajaikumar B Kunnumakkara, Asha Nair, William M Merritt, Liz Y Han, Guillermo N Armaiz-Pena, Aparna A Kamat, Whitney A Spannuth, David M Gershenson, Susan K Lutgendorf, Bharat B Aggarwal, Anil K Sood. National LIbrary of Medicine. 2007.
- Safety and anti-inflammatory activity of curcumin: a component of tumeric (Curcuma longa). Nita Chainani-Wu. National Library of Medicine. 2003.
- Anti-inflammatory drug and gut bacteria have a dynamic interplay. Science Daily. 2016.
- The best drugs for depression and memory. The Functional Neurology Center. 2021.
- Antidepressant-like effects of curcumin in WKY rat model of depression is associated with an increase in hippocampal BDNF. Laura L.Hurleya, Luli Akinfiresoyea, Evaristus Nwuliab, Atsushi Kamiyac, Amol A.Kulkarnid, YousefTizabi. ScienceDirect. 2013.
- Efficacy of Turmeric Extracts and Curcumin for Alleviating the Symptoms of Joint Arthritis: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Clinical Trials. James W. Daily, Mini Yang, and Sunmin Park. National Library of Medicine. 2016.
- Turmeric Dosage: How Much Should You Take Per Day?. Makayla Meixner MS, RDN. Healthline. 2018.
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