What Are The Best Turmeric & Curcumin Supplements in 2017?
Turmeric, the famous golden colored spice, is the popular ingredient that flavors many curries across the Asian continent, particularly in India.
However, this spice has recently grabbed the attention of researchers and scientists throughout the medical field, not for culinary reasons, but due to the discoveries of potential benefits to health and wellbeing. It’s causing quite a revelation!
It will come to no surprise that many of the health conscious community are trying to add the “Indian saffron” into their everyday routine and supplements are becoming increasingly popular.
But with so many options available, where do you start? I decided to find out which is the best turmeric and curcumin supplement available and determine whether this really is the golden spice of life.
What is Turmeric?
Turmeric is a member of the ginger family. It can be found in various different colors including white, black and yellow. The plant is dug up and the root or rhizomes are ground down into the power which we all associate with this spice.
The one in particular we are referring to is the yellow variety also called by the scientific name Circuma Longa. It is grown throughout India.
Turmeric has been used in Asia for thousands of years and not just for spicing up your tikka masala! Its golden yellow color makes it popular for dying fabrics and even in the present day it’s used as coloring for many cosmetics and soaps.
But more significant benefits of this spice include the impact it has on health and wellbeing. It’s the compound only found within turmeric, called curcumin, which gives the spice its color and also contains the special health-boosting powers.
Curcumin is a circumanoid and the main active element in turmeric. This element is the source of the healing properties of the fragrant spice. It provides very potent antioxidant properties and is said to be an anti-inflammatory.
Benefits of Turmeric and Curcumin
Anti inflammatory Properties
Inflammation is said to be the primary cause of pain and illness within the human body. Curcumin is said to be able to reduce swelling or inflammation within the body.
In fact, there are even reports to suggest the benefits of curcumin are greater than the use of standard medicine.
In one study the anti inflammatory effects of curcumin were compared to a conventional medicinal drug and it was curcumin that produced a better anti-inflammatory response.
One review suggests “curcumin has shown to be a highly pleiotropic molecule capable of interacting with numerous molecular targets involved in inflammation.”
Another study was carried out to identify the activity levels of curcumin and it was proven that many different molecules which play a role in inflammation were inhibited by the presence of curcumin.
If you are familiar with the benefits of green tea, you will understand the process around antioxidants and free radicals. Free radicals lower the body’s defences which over time can lead to disease.
Curcumin has similarities to green tea in the fact it’s an antioxidant which plays an important role against reducing the negative effects of free radicals in the body. It does this by hunting down the free radicals to stop them.
One study showed that curcumin is the most potent scavenger of superoxide radicals and therefore the most beneficial
But curcumin has an additional secret weapon - it also generates its own enzymes to stimulate biosynthesis and increase antioxidant levels in the body.
A number of diseases can have their symptoms reduced by the effects of antioxidants such as cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, heart disease, and arthritis.
Curcumin has been reported to benefit the heart in many ways. Cardiomyopathy refers to diseases of the heart muscle and affects a large number of the population each year. It has been shown in one study that curcumin can protect the heart muscle cells and prevent them from dying.
Alzheimer’s is a degenerative disease which affects the brain usually in older people over the age of 65. It causes brain cells to die which has detrimental consequences for mental functions such as memory, behaviour and cognitive ability.
To this day there is no known cure for the illness, but research is ongoing and treatments can be used to help reduce advancement of the disease.
The primary causing factor of Alzheimer’s relates to proteins in the body called amyloids which build up in the brain causing the cells to die.
Research has proven that curcumin’s antioxidant and anti inflammatory powers can prevent the amyloids joining together by latching onto them and therefore preventing or delaying the death of brain cells.
Also at the same time, it can boost the regeneration of brain cells called neurons in a form of self repair.
Arthritis is caused by inflammation or swelling of the joints. There are two common types of this condition known as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Osteoarthritis is caused by natural wear and tear of the cartilage around the joints. It’s commonly found in the older generation as a trait of the aging process. People with this condition usually experience stiffness and pain in their hands, knees, hips or any area of the body which allows movement.
Curcumin uses its anti inflammatory properties to reduce the swelling caused by the arthritis.
In a study that lasted three months, 50 patients were administered doses of 200 mg curcumin and were evaluated by measuring distance by walking on a treadmill.
After the designated timeframe elapsed, 58% of the volunteers improved mobility from 76 meters to 332 meters. This confirmed that curcumin was clinically effective in the management and treatment of osteoarthritis.
Rheumatoid Arthritis is different to osteoarthritis in that it’s an autoimmune disease. This means the body begins to attack itself. In doing this, it attacks the lining of the joints and causes inflammation.
Curcumin acts as a defence mechanism by using its anti inflammatory effects to improve the condition and relieve swelling.
There have even been suggestions that curcumin can be more effective in combating the effects than using conventional medicines. In a pilot clinical study, 45 patients diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis were divided into three groups.
Each group had a different substance administered - 500 mg curcumin, 50 mg diclofenac (a standard drug used for arthritis) or a combination of the two.
The results were rated using a “disease activity score” and also by an official criteria for reduction of swelling and tenderness in the joints. Those who took curcumin showed the highest percentage of improvement in both scoring criteria. And even more interestingly the scores were considerably higher than results of the diclofenac.
According to a survey conducted by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 20.3 million people were diagnosed with a form of cancer in 2014, which equates to 8.5% of the population.
It’s a sorry fact, but chances are everyone has been affected by cancer in some way throughout their lives.
This is why research on cancer prevention and reduction is always at the forefront of clinical studies. The potential benefits of curcumin in combating this disease are no exception and many clinical trials have been carried out.
Studies have been carried out on the main potential benefits of curcumin in relation to cancer:
- Curcumin has been reported to cause death of cancer cells by inducing apoptosis, which means it prevents tumours from spreading
- It can also scale down the effects of angiogenesis, which basically means it prevents the cancer cells obtaining oxygen in the body, so limits the growth speed of cancerous tumors.
There are suggestions that when curcumin is combined with certain chemotherapy treatments it could also increase efficacy.
One clinical review of chemotherapy practices in patients diagnosed with colorectal cancer found the use of curcumin extremely effective. They suggest that curcumin in combination with chemotherapy is a superior strategy for treatment of gastrointestinal cancer.
I would like to stress, this is by no means all the potential benefits of this medicinal spice, the list would be a very long one. So if you hear people referring to it as the golden spice of life, you could be wise to agree.
What to look for in a supplement
As we have established, it’s the curcumin in turmeric which holds its benefits. In its raw state, the amount of circumin is quite low.
This is where a supplement can be beneficial. Many contain intensified quantities of circumin extract, which allows your body to ingest them more efficiently and reap the potential health benefits of this spice.
Amount of Circumin
When checking the label, check the amount of circumin in the supplement. The standard is usually content of 95% curcumin or it could be referenced as curcuminoids.
No upper intake tolerance levels of curcumin have been established as yet. However a study was carried out to ascertain the safety levels and to determine the maximum tolerated dose of standard powder extract.
Volunteers were administered escalating doses from 500 to 12,000 mg. The results concluded that the tolerance levels were excellent.
You could look at it from the viewpoint of defence or attack. If you wish to defend your health and increase prevention of disease, you may prefer a lower dose but choose to take it long term.
Alternatively if you have a pre-existing medical condition and you wish to reduce the effects and relieve the symptoms, you may wish to take a higher dose to attack the cause, but for a shorter period of time.
Piperine Content (Black Pepper)
Curcumin on its own isn’t very easily absorbed by the body, so it is best complimented with black pepper or piperine to enhance the effect. You may also see this listed as Bioperine on the label.
Precautions, Side effects and Interactions
Although turmeric and curcumin supplements are considered safe, as a precautionary measure it is always advisable to consult your doctor as it can react with certain types of medication or medical conditions.
There haven’t been sufficient studies on the effects of turmeric supplements during pregnancy so in these cases refrain from taking it.
Bleeding Disorders and Blood Thinning Medication
Curcumin slows down the blood clotting process and increases the chance of bleeding. Those who are already prescribed blood
thinning medication should avoid using it.
As with anyone due to undertake any form of surgery, it is advisable to stop taking the supplement due to risk of bleeding.
Curcumin could deplete sugar levels in the blood, so for those whose levels are already irregular like diabetics, it may not be advisable as it could cause further reduction.
The Best Turmeric and Curcumin Supplement
There are a number of products to choose from and it can often be hard to tell which manufacturer offers the best quality supplement. So I have looked at the options available and chose five of the best turmeric and curcumin supplements which should suit almost everyone.
Our Choice for the Best Turmeric and Curcumin Supplement
It’s a standard size dose of 500 mg and clearly states on the label the precise amount of curcuminoids you are consuming i.e. 475 mg.
It also includes the important ingredient black pepper extract and an additional bonus of organic coconut oil to complement and enhance absorption.
The quality of this product is reinforced by the standards and strict guidelines followed which for me just drives home confidence.
I believe this is why it could make a good option for anyone looking at introducing a turmeric and curcumin supplement into their lives.