Are you considering including curcumin in your diet but wondering whether it’s worth all the hype? Get the answers about this wonder molecule, including how best to apply the benefits of its potential to address a wide range of health conditions. Use the links below to jump ahead to different topics on the page.
|What Is Curcumin and Where Is It Found?||How Does Curcumin Support Overall Health?|
|Potential Therapeutic Applications||Does Oral Ingestion Help?|
|Factors Affecting Curcumin Absorption||Strategies To Enhance Bioavailability|
|The Most Bioavailable Curcumin Form||Why Do You Need Curcumin Supplements?|
|Different Types of Curcumin Supplements||FAQs: Frequently Asked Questions|
Curcumin is the main constituent of turmeric root (Curcuma longa), an herbaceous perennial member of the ginger family. The three key curcuminoids present in turmeric — curcumin, bisdemethoxycurcumin, and demethoxycurcumin — contribute its distinctive yellow color and flavor. So, the next time your fingers are stained with turmeric, blame it on curcumin!
The potential health benefits of turmeric have long been known across different cultures that value it for both its culinary and therapeutic uses. In particular, over the last few decades, curcumin is receiving significant interest and research into its role as an antioxidant in maintaining the body’s natural inflammatory responses.*
Research studies1 show curcumin targets or interacts with various signaling molecules and exhibits cellular-level activities to offer great potential for multiple health benefits.* Of the multiple therapeutic benefits of curcumin supplementation, the major health bonuses are its antioxidant effects and its inflammatory response support.* Let’s take a closer look at how curcumin supports overall health with these two functions.*
|Antioxidant Effects*||Inflammatory Response Support*|
|Limits oxidative stress, an imbalance between harmful reactive oxygen species (ROS, or free radicals) and the antioxidants our body naturally produces.*||Regulates the action of immune cells to beneficially influence inflammatory responses.*|
|Scavenges different kinds of free radicals and modulates signal pathways to neutralize them.*||Down-regulates2 the expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines — proteins that control cellular activity in the immune system to help maintain the body’s natural inflammatory response.*|
Curcumin’s antioxidant properties and support of the body’s natural inflammatory response also have positive effects on a number of health conditions.* Below, we offer some resources to help you understand how curcumin exerts beneficial effects on vital functions like cardiovascular health, joint health, immune function, the gastrointestinal environment, and liver support.*
|Cardiovascular Health*||Curcumin and Blood Pressure: Supporting Cardiovascular Health|
|Joint Health*||A Curcumin Supplement Could Support Joint Health and an Active Lifestyle|
|Immune Function*||How does Curcumin Support the Immune System?|
||Curcumin and IBS: Investigating the Possibility of Natural Symptom Relief|
|Liver Support*||Curcumin Could Enhance Alcohol Dehydrogenase Activity to Support Liver Health|
||Curcumin for Mild Cognitive Dysfunction: A Natural Alternative for Symptom Relief|
|The Benefits of Curcumin for Brain Health: Addressing Cognitive Impairment|
|Neurodegenerative Disease Research Reveals Potential Benefits of Curcumin|
With so many potential health benefits, you might be wondering about taking turmeric or curcumin orally. Unfortunately, curcumin’s poor pharmacokinetic profile — how it interacts with the human body — compromises its immense therapeutic potential. Although curcumin’s presence is easily identifiable in the gastrointestinal tract after oral intake, it’s practically undetectable in the blood and extraintestinal tissue, which indicates it is poorly absorbed in the body.
Also, have you ever tasted raw turmeric or curcumin? Although curcumin might be a prized cooking ingredient, on its own the unpalatability presents a major barrier to therapeutic use. That makes it difficult to ingest raw curcumin in the large amounts needed for therapeutic benefits.
Curcumin absorption in the body is hindered by:
All of these factors lead to curcumin’s poor absorption in the body, thus decreasing its bioavailability. This means ingesting unformulated curcumin — even in a large amount — likely won’t yield the desired health benefits.
Several novel formulation strategies have been developed to enhance the bioavailability of curcumin — from exploring its most bioavailable form to developing microcapsules with advanced formulations containing phospholipid complexes, nanoparticles, and others.
The poor absorbability of curcumin often fuels an ongoing debate about the efficacy of curcumin vs. turmeric supplements. Tetrahydrocurcumin — a biologically active, colorless, or white-colored curcumin derivative — has similar pharmacological properties but with superior bioavailability. Research studies indicate enhanced water solubility and chemical stability of tetrahydrocurcumin, resulting in slower degradation and therefore optimal absorption and bioavailability.
Interestingly, tetrahydrocurcumin is the active byproduct of our liver’s metabolization of curcumin, which subsequently impacts the body’s tissues. However, because our body cannot convert curcumin into tetrahydrocurcumin fast enough, it gets cleared from the bloodstream before it can exert its beneficial effects on body tissues. Formulating a curcumin supplement with tetrahydrocurcumin as an active ingredient thus results in enhanced absorption and bioavailability.
Unformulated curcumin poses three key challenges that impede its effectiveness:
As a fat-soluble molecule, curcumin is usually encapsulated within a hydrophobic phase, such as oil, solid fat particles, hydrophobic protein particles, or oil droplets. Curcumin encapsulated in nanocarriers results in a smaller particle size that prolongs the integrity of the active ingredient molecule and allows for its targeted delivery to enhance absorption. For oral intake, curcumin supplements are usually formulated as:
Unlike unformulated curcumin, a supplement formulated with a highly absorbable and bioavailable form of curcumin, like tetrahydrocurcumin, is developed for maximum absorption, thereby effectively supporting the body’s natural inflammatory response and promoting optimal health functions.*
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved curcuminoids as ‘Generally Recognized as Safe’ (GRAS) to be used as a food additive. Curcumin is well tolerated and safe, even at doses between 4,000 - 8,000 mg/day.
Always consult with your health-care practitioner before including a nutritional supplement, including curcumin, in your diet or taking one with a prescription medicine.
A supplement formulation with a superior bioavailable form of curcumin and targeted delivery of curcumin molecules should display enhanced efficacy. TetraCumin,® developed by Tesseract Medical Research, is an advanced supplement formula containing tetrahydrocurcumin.
Tesseract’s proprietary CyLoc® - DexKey® technology is a revolutionary nutrient delivery system that enhances the palatability of the active ingredient molecules, maximizes absorption and enables micro-dosing. The CyLoc® technology encases each active ingredient molecule in its dextrin fiber delivery cage and the DexKey® technology releases the active ingredient molecules at the desired point in the intestinal tract, allowing for optimal absorption and bioavailability of each molecule.
1Gupta, Subash C, et al. The AAPS Journal vol. 15,1 (2013): 195-218. doi:10.1208/s12248-012-9432-8
2Jagetia, Ganesh Chandra, and Bharat B Aggarwal. Journal of clinical immunology vol. 27,1 (2007): 19-35. doi:10.1007/s10875-006-9066-7