Tumeric Extract Vs Curcumin – Which One is Better?

Tumeric extract is derived from the roots of the plant Curcuma longa; a member of the ginger family. The spice is known best for its bright yellow color and is used in Indian curries and American mustards. The main active compound curcumin, has powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. You can cook with it or just take the supplement but which product is the better choice?

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In India, tumeric has long been used as a disinfectant and treatment for laryngitis, bronchitis, and diabetes. Population studies have shown that elderly villagers in India appear to have the lowest rate of Alzheimer's disease in the world, and researchers have speculated that the anti-inflammatory effects of curcumin may be partly responsible. Of course, it’s noteworthy to mention that the people of India eat turmeric with almost every meal.

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So far, studies of turmeric and curcumin have shown the following benefits:

Benefits of Tumeric Extract

  • Turmeric extract worked as well as a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug for treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee. The study was published in the August 2009 issue of the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.
  • Laboratory studies suggest that curcumin acts as a weak phytoestrogen and may have cancer protective effects.
  • Lab studies have also shown that curcumin induces programmed death of colon cancer cells, and clinical trials are investigating the use of curcumin in the treatment of colon cancer.
  • Curcumin suppresses microinflammation in the GI tract associated with IBS, otherwise known as inflammatory bowel disease.
  • Tumeric extract may also help prevent fat growth and accumulation and help regulate blood sugar.

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    Supplementation of Tumeric Extract

  • Always look for products that have been standardized and contain at least 95 percent curcuminoids.
  • Neither curcumin nor turmeric taken orally is well absorbed unless it’s taken with black pepper or piperine, a constituent of black pepper responsible for its pungency.
  • Make sure the supplement you choose contains black pepper extract or piperine.
  • If you're cooking with turmeric, be sure to add some black pepper to the food if it doesn’t contain any.
  • Turmeric extract works best when combined with a healthy fat, such as coconut oil, olive oil, or ghee. In this way, curcumin is directly absorbed into the bloodstream through the lymphatic system and bypasses the liver completely.
  • Since heat increases tumeric’s bioavailability, sprinkle it into the pan right after you heat the oil.
  • Turmeric is fat-soluble. In order for your body to fully absorb it, tumeric needs to be combined with a fat. This way, it stays in the body longer and increases the benefits.
  • Be patient when supplementing with turmeric extract because it can take up to 8 weeks for the full benefits to become apparent.

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    Take 400 to 600 milligrams of turmeric extract (available in tablets or capsules) three times per day or as instructed by the product label.

    Cut root: 1.5 – 3 g per day

    Dried, powdered root: 1 – 3 g per day

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    Tumeric Extract Vs Curcumin

    Dr. Weil recommends turmeric extract over curcumin, and believes that whole turmeric is more effective than isolated curcumin for inflammatory disorders, including arthritis, tendonitis, and autoimmune conditions.

    There have been few published studies comparing the effects of turmeric and curcumin. However, a new paper examined the comparative efficacy of extract of turmeric rhizome (ETE, prepared as an ethanolic extract of raw turmeric) as compared to commercially obtained curcumin. The two compounds were compared for immunostimulatory, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties in a mouse model. In addition they were compared for gene expression of perforin - a pore forming protein important in T-cell mediated cytoxicity.

    Results: Turmeric extract "caused a heightened expression of perforin, the effector molecule to carry out T-cell mediated immunity. It was almost double to that with curcumin which could not elicit the response beyond controls". You can read more in depth about this here.

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    Add Tumeric to:

    Roasted Veggies
    Hot tea
    Chili Beans
    Soups and stews

    (Leave additional recommendations in the comments below.)

    Sometimes it's not so easy to incorporate spices into every meal and that's the beauty of just opting for tumeric extract. Once you start cooking with it and warm up to the flavor, you may end up just using the spice. I find that it's always better to incorporate beneficial ingredients into my meals - and much more cost efficient over time!

    Always consult your physician before using natural remedies, especially for anyone with preexisting conditions or anyone currently taking prescription medications. Although many efforts are made to ensure that the advice given on this site is professionally sound, the advice is not intended to replace a mutual relationship with a medical provider.

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