Turmeric and curcumin are often used interchangeably, but they do have their differences. Turmeric is a root that has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries, due to its amazing health benefits. The main active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin, which gives it its bright yellow color. While turmeric is a great addition to your diet, curcumin can be even more beneficial.
Differences between Turmeric and Curcumin
The main difference between turmeric and curcumin is that turmeric contains only about 3% of curcumin, while curcumin is the main active ingredient in turmeric. Because of this, taking a supplement with curcumin can be more beneficial than taking turmeric alone. Curcumin is more concentrated, so it provides a higher dose of the active ingredient to provide health benefits.
Why You Should Take Curcumin
Curcumin has been linked to many potential health benefits. Curcumin works as a natural anti-inflammatory, helping to reduce pain and swelling in the body. Research suggests that chronic inflammation, oxidative stress, and most chronic diseases are closely linked, and the antioxidant properties of curcumin can play a key role in the prevention and treatment of chronic diseases.1
- Reduce inflammation and pain in arthritis.2–5
- Improve brain function and protect against dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease. 6
- Improve heart health by reducing cholesterol levels and regulating blood pressure.7–9
- Reduce the risk of certain cancers.10–14
- Reduce side effects of cancer chemotherapy and radiotherapy.10
- Reduce depression symptoms.15–17
- Promote kidney function18,19
- Reduce metabolic syndrome and help to control blood sugar levels.20–22
When it comes to choosing between turmeric or curcumin, taking a supplement with curcumin may be more beneficial due to its higher concentration of active ingredients. However, adding turmeric to your diet can still provide many health benefits and is a great addition to any healthy lifestyle.
No matter which you choose, the potential health benefits of turmeric and curcumin can be immense. As always, it’s important to talk to your doctor before taking any supplement or making major changes to your diet or lifestyle. With the right precautions, adding these natural compounds to your routine could provide a wealth of health benefits.
For those looking for an even greater boost in their wellness, adding other herbs and spices like ginger, garlic, and black pepper may help to increase the bioavailability of curcumin even more. When these compounds are combined in a supplement or recipe, they can offer an array of health benefits that can support your overall well-being. Ultimately, incorporating turmeric and curcumin into your diet may be just what you need to start feeling your best.
How it helps people with arthritis
For individuals with arthritis, turmeric and curcumin have been found to be particularly beneficial. Curcumin has anti-inflammatory properties which can help reduce pain and swelling in joints. Studies have also suggested that it may help slow the progression of osteoarthritis by reducing inflammation and preserving cartilage. Taking a supplement with curcumin could potentially provide much-needed relief for those with arthritis.
Turmeric is also known for its anti-inflammatory properties and has been used as an alternative treatment for arthritis in some cultures. Turmeric and curcumin are safer to take than non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and have been found to be equally effective in some studies. 23
Studies have suggested that turmeric and curcumin may help reduce pain and improve joint function, although more research is needed. Taking turmeric as a supplement or adding it to your diet may help reduce inflammation and relieve arthritis symptoms.
What form of curcumin should you take?
Unfortunately, curcumin is absorbed well in the body, meaning that it is not in a bioavailable form. When it comes to the form of curcumin you should take, taking one with piperine can be beneficial. Piperine is found in black pepper and increases the bioavailability of curcumin of up to 2000%, meaning it is better absorbed into the bloodstream.24 However, piperine can interact with other medications.
Curcumin supplements are also available in fermented forms which have been found to be even more effective than standard formulas due to the fermentation process. Fermented curcumin is said to have increased bioavailability and reduced gastrointestinal side effects, making it a great choice for those looking to get the most out of turmeric’s health benefits.
Precautions for Taking Turmeric or Curcumin
It’s important to know when you should be cautious about taking these supplements. Be cautious if you are:
- Prone to kidney stones
- Take antidepressants
- On anticoagulants
- Take antihistamines
- Pregnant or breast-feeding
- On chemotherapy
Turmeric and curcumin are both powerful compounds that can offer many health benefits. While turmeric is a great addition to your diet, curcumin is more concentrated and may be more beneficial for optimizing health. No matter which one you choose, they both have the potential to provide immense benefits when used correctly.
As always, it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional before taking any supplements or making major changes to your diet.
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I am a Master’s prepared RN, National Board-Certified Health & Wellness Coach, Board-Certified Functional Wellness Coach, and Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner. I help people fix their chronic inflammation & pain with in-home lab testing, client assessments, personalized natural healing protocols, and online coaching to help them move from pain to peace so that they feel better, move better, and live better.