Risk FREE. Money Back Guarantee.
What is curcumin — a root or a powder?

What is Curcumin? The Ultimate Guide

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

What Is Curcumin and Where Is It Found?

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.*

Back to Top

How Does Curcumin Support Overall Health? 

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.*   

Functions of Curcumin
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.*   

Back to Top

Potential Therapeutic Applications of Curcumin

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.*  

System Therapeutic Applications
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?
Gastrointestinal Environment*

Curcumin and IBS: Investigating the Possibility of Natural Symptom Relief
Liver Support* Curcumin Could Enhance Alcohol Dehydrogenase Activity to Support Liver Health 
Brain 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

Back to Top

Does Oral Ingestion of Curcumin Help?

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. 

Even in large amounts, unformulated curcumin might not yield
the desired health benefits.

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.

Back to Top

Factors Affecting Curcumin Absorption in the Body

Curcumin absorption in the body is hindered by:

  • The curcumin molecule’s chemical instability 
  • The curcumin molecule’s water insolubility 
  • Rapid metabolism in the gastrointestinal tract
  • Rapid systemic elimination from the body 

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.

Back to Top

Strategies to Enhance the Absorption of Curcumin

Traditional Methods

  1. Ingesting with A Fatty Meal. Because curcumin is fat soluble, the traditional way to enhance its absorption in the body is by ingesting it with a fatty meal. This is why turmeric or curcumin is often mixed with milk, instead of water, to make the “super drink” called Golden Milk or Turmeric Latte. 
  1. Combining Curcumin with Piperine. Piperine is the natural alkaloid of black pepper, and when mixed with curcumin, it stimulates the gastrointestinal system and prevents the efflux of curcumin, however, piperine is sometimes irritating to the gut.
  1. Turmeric Oil. Curcumin ingested orally as turmeric oil is more easily absorbed by the body.

Novel Formulations

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.

Back to Top

The Most Bioavailable Form of Curcumin

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. 

Tetrahydrocurcumin exhibits superior bioavailability to curcumin.

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.

Why Do You Need A Curcumin Supplement?

Unformulated curcumin poses three key challenges that impede its effectiveness:

  • Intolerable taste. Curcumin has an unpleasant taste that makes it difficult to ingest orally.    
  • Intake in considerable amounts. Curcumin needs to be ingested in considerable amounts to experience its beneficial effects.  
  • Poor absorption. Poor absorption of curcumin means your body is not guaranteed to experience the desired therapeutic benefits. 

Advantages of A Curcumin Supplement Containing Tetrahydrocurcumin

Advantages of A Curcumin Supplement Containing Tetrahydrocurcumin

Back to Top

Different Types of Curcumin Supplements

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:

  • Powders
  • Capsules 
  • Tablets 
  • Liquid-turmeric or curcumin-loaded emulsions 

Back to Top

FAQs: Frequently Asked Questions About Oral Curcumin Supplements

Does a curcumin supplement work? 

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.* 

Are there side effects to taking a curcumin supplement?

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.  

Can I take a curcumin supplement with a prescription medicine?

Always consult with your health-care practitioner before including a nutritional supplement, including curcumin, in your diet or taking one with a prescription medicine. 

How do I determine the efficacy of a curcumin supplement formulation?

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. 

To learn more about what curcumin is and how you can incorporate it into your diet in supplement form, contact us or visit Tesseract Medical Research.   

Works Cited:

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

Al Czap, Founder | Tesseract

Al Czap has more than four decades of professional experience in preventative medicine. He founded Thorne Research in 1984 (sold in 2010) and he published Alternative Medicine Review for 17 years beginning in 1996. AMR was a highly acclaimed, peer-reviewed, and indexed medical journal. Al was the first to recognize the need for hypoallergenic ingredients and to devise methods of manufacture for and delivery of hypoallergenic products to underserved patient populations. His work has greatly impacted those with impaired immune and digestive systems and compromised health due to environmental exposures.

The advanced formulations based on our revolutionary, patented, and patent-pending technology are only available through Tesseract. No other medical, pharmaceutical, or supplement company is licensed to utilize our proprietary technology.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
© Copyright 2023, All Rights Reserved Tesseract Medical Research, LLC
| Privacy Policy |Terms