What is curcumin?
Curcumin is a biologically active compound derived from the underground portion of the turmeric plant. It is fat-soluble and constitutes up to 77% of all the curcuminoids in turmeric (1).
Are turmeric and curcumin the same?
The turmeric plant (Curcuma longa Linn) is a tropical plant. It is a member of the ginger family. The turmeric spice that we are more familiar with, is derived from the underground portion of the plant.
The bright yellow-orange color of turmeric comes mainly from pigments called curcuminoids. Curcuminoids comprise about 2 % -9 % of turmeric powder (1). Of this, curcumin is considered its most active constituent.
Thus, turmeric contains several components including curcumin.
What are the health benefits of turmeric or curcumin?
Traditional Chinese medicine and traditional Indian medicine (Ayurveda) recommend turmeric for the same ailments. Almost all its medicinal properties can be attributed to the small percentage of curcumin that it contains.
In Ayurveda, turmeric is thought to be “the most powerful spice of all” (2). Therefore, it is recommended for almost every health problem. Turmeric is especially recommended for consumption during the autumn and winter seasons (2). This is because of its anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and antiseptic effects (3).
Curcumin for respiratory problems
We are all mainly wary of catching the flu or coming down with a cold and cough during winter. Drinking turmeric milk is an old wives’ tale for those with cough and respiratory problems (2). However, scientific research is beginning to provide supportive evidence.
For example, curcumin is proven to have a suppressive effect on an influenza virus infection (3). Its anti inflammatory activities are also useful in treating asthma (1), which can get worse in the winter months.
Curcumin can protect against the inflammation that accompanies an infection. Especially interesting, is that pre-treatment with it may also protect against inflammation. This is possibly why so much of Indian cooking uses turmeric.
For all these reasons, we recommend that you make turmeric an essential part of your winter diet.
Curcumin as an immune booster
Numerous studies have proven curcumin’s immune benefits (3). It interacts with immune cells to protect against immune-related diseases.
Studies have also proven that it can directly remove excessive free radicals produced when the immune system is under attack. Not only does it work as an antioxidant, it also prevents the production of reactive oxygen species.
Curcumin for arthritis
It is believed that a change in weather, especially a drop in temperature, can result in heightened joint pain (4). Cold, wet weather may cause increased muscle spasms and decreased blood circulation. This can cause aggravated feelings of pain.
In a clinical study of 36 patients with rheumatoid arthritis, all the inflammation markers were significantly improved in the groups receiving curcumin (3). Its benefit was also proven in a study of osteoarthritis of the knee.
Curcumin for winter skin
Sitting indoors, the drying effect of the heated air and water can all strip our skin of moisture and protective oils during the winter. For those with pre-existing skin problems such as psoriasis vulgaris, the symptoms can worsen in the cold months (5).
Ayurvedic medicine recommends applying a turmeric paste on the skin to treat these conditions. This is because turmeric is believed to stimulate blood formation (2). It is also said to improve circulation by thinning blood out. This allows it to enter and clean the lymphatic system and other tissues.
Turmeric supplementation is therefore beneficial in the cold winter months to treat dry or itching skin. Ingesting it orally has also shown equivalent benefits.
At the end of a 12 week-long study of patients with mild-to-moderate psoriasis vulgaris, oral curcumin significantly reduced the psoriasis area and severity (3). Inflammation progression was also ameliorated.
Curcumin supplementation for healthy individuals
Clinical studies have proven that low doses of curcumin can provide health benefits for people that do not have diagnosed health conditions (6).
80 mg of solid lipid curcumin was compared with a placebo in a human study. Just one hour after intake, improved performance on sustained attention and working memory tasks were observed (6). An extended 4-week treatment of healthy individuals with the same dose was also conducted. Working memory, general fatigue, contentedness, and fatigue induced by psychological stress were all significantly improved.
Curcumin may also help alleviate the symptoms of seasonal anxiety or depression in otherwise healthy individuals (6).
How much curcumin should I take daily?
Curcuminoids have been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration as “Generally Recognized As Safe” (6). Clinical trials have demonstrated turmeric to have good tolerability and safety profiles, even at doses between 4 000 and 8 000 mg/day. Doses of up to 12 000 mg/day of a 95% concentration of curcumin have also been evaluated to be safe (6).
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) provides an Allowable Daily Intake value of up to 3 mg/kg body weight of curcumin (6).
A cautionary note: Adverse effects of curcumin consumption
Very high dose (12 000 mg/day) consumption may be accompanied by side effects such as diarrhea, headache, rash, and yellow stool (6).
Due to its blood thinning property, curcumin should be used with caution by those on blood thinning medication.
Curcumin is also contraindicated in pregnant women and those undergoing treatment with anti-platelets and (COX) inhibitors (2).
What is the best way to consume curcumin?
Human clinical trials indicate that the bioavailability of curcumin is low. For example, in a UK-based trial of 3.6 g of oral curcumin, only one millionth of this dose could be detected in plasma after one hour (1).
This is why we recommend our 47-times more bioavailable liquid liposomal curcumin supplement. A maximum blood concentration of 32.75 µg/L was reached in 2 hours after administration of 250 mg of our liposomal product. This is in contrast to a maximum blood concentration of 0.86 µg/L in a non-liposomal group with the same dose.
There is further evidence to prove that supplementation in the liposomal form is highly effective. A liposomal curcumin complex effectively decreased pro-inflammatory cytokine and chemokine expression, without affecting cell viability (3). The same study showed the liposomal form to be less toxic compared to free curcumin.
Our twist on the traditional golden milk recipe
Golden milk is traditionally made by boiling a turmeric and milk mixture. However, as we outlined in the very beginning of this article, the turmeric powder that one buys in the store only contains 1-5% of curcumin. It is not easy to find pure curcumin outside of supplements.
You can consume our liposomal pure curcumin supplement on its own. Alternatively, mix it in with milk to make your own liquid gold.
Here is our recipe for a liposomal golden milk. It is sure to be the talk of your holiday parties this season:
- Warm about 100mL of the milk of your choice (Yes, this recipe works great with plant-based milks too!). Make it warm to the touch.
- Do not boil as high heat can alter the stability of the liposomal product. Alternately, use cold or room temperature milk.
- Add 10mL of our liquid liposomal curcumin supplement to this and stir through.
- Add a dash of turmeric powder or a thread of saffron to get the golden color.
We recommend that you add a pinch of cinnamon powder for that extra holiday feeling. Or add it to your mango lassi if you intend to have an Indian-themed holiday party.
Curcumin supplements: Market trend
The total global curcumin (95% extract as ingredient) market is estimated at more than USD 100 million in 2023 (7). Of this, the nutraceuticals market will form more than 50% of the volume and revenue share. It will also be the fastest growing segment with an estimated CAGR of 12.6% from 2017 to 2023. The European market is projected to lead the growth trend.
Contact our Business Development Team today to stake your claim on the global curcumin supplement market.
- Curcumin is the most biologically active component of turmeric.
- It has anti inflammatory, anti oxidant and antiseptic effects.
- It is especially beneficial for respiratory illnesses, arthritis and skin disorders that are brought on due to cold weather.
- Curcumin is a potent immune booster.
- Curcumin has several benefits for healthy individuals as well.
- Doses of up to 12 000 mg/day of 95% concentration curcumin have been evaluated to be safe.
- Liposomal curcumin is scientifically proven to be more bioavailable than non-liposomal forms.
- The total global curcumin market is estimated at more than USD 100 million in 2023.
- [Online] [Cited: 11 26, 2021.] https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/dietary-factors/phytochemicals/curcumin.
- [Online] [Cited: 11 29, 2021.] https://www.joyfulbelly.com/Ayurveda/ingredient/Turmeric/12.
- Bioactivity, Health Benefits, and Related Molecular Mechanisms of Curcumin: Current Progress, Challenges, and Perspectives. Xu X-Y, Meng X, Li S, Gan R-Y, Li Y, Li H-B. 10, s.l. : Nutrients, 2018, Vol. 10.
- [Online] [Cited: 11 30, 2021.] https://www.news-medical.net/health/Rheumatoid-Arthritis-and-Winter-Weather.aspx.
- [Online] [Cited: 11 30, 2021.] https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/psoriasis/psoriasis-fall-winter.
- Curcumin: A Review of Its Effects on Human Health. Hewlings SJ, Kalman DS. 10, s.l. : Foods, 2017, Vol. 6.
- [Online] [Cited: 11 30, 2021.] https://store.frost.com/global-curcumin-market-forecast-to-2023.html.