Curcumin is the main active compound of turmeric that belongs to the family of curcuminoids. Two additional curcuminoids of turmeric – dimethoxycurcumin and bisdimethoxycurcumin, are in this family too. These three curcuminoids endow turmeric with healing properties.
Curcuminoids are compounds with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and other healing characteristics beneficial for the human body. These compounds we can get mainly from vegetables.
Consuming curcuminoids in order to improve our health, we usually face two big challenges:
The first challenge of curcumin consumption is that there are very few curcuminoids in turmeric powder, about 3-6% of the total dry weight, and given that the spice is consumed in small quantities and not constantly, we can hardly hope for recovery.
The second challenge is that when taken orally, curcumin is very poorly absorbed by the gastrointestinal tract, barely penetrates into the blood system and is quickly eliminated. This so-called low bioavailability has not allowed curcumin to be treated as a medicine for a long time.
Therefore, the healing benefits of turmeric can not be achieved without curcumin supplements – improved extracts of turmeric.
So, let’s discuss some top curcumin supplement brands, offered by market today. It will help you to pick the best curcumin supplement, that suits your needs in the most perfect way.
Benefits of Curcuminoids
Antiinflammatory and pain relieving effect
This is the major benefit for which these substances are so appreciated. Curcuminoids have a powerful antiinflammatory effect on the human organism, suppressing the effects of different inflammatory agents. Pain and inflammation usually go together: eliminating or suppressing one, you suppress the other. In the laboratory studies curcumin demonstrated even better antiinflammatory effect than the commonly known nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs.
Mitigation of joint diseases symptoms
Curcumin is valuable as a remedy for the joint’s diseases: arthritis, arthrosis, autoimmune disorders. Curcumin has antiviral, antiinflammatory and antioxidant effects on joints. Numerous studies have proven the beneficial effects of curcumin for joint issues. Suppression of inflammatory reactions in the joints is the most demanded benefit of curcuminoids.
Prevents the development of Alzheimer’s dicease
Curcumin has demonstrated the potential to penetrate the brain, to bind and destroy beta-amyloid plaques, which is the main cause of Alzheimer’s disease.
However, the implementation of this approach is complicated by the fact that the brain is protected from the blood system by a special physiological mechanism called the blood-brain barrier. This barrier protects the central nervous system from infections and toxic substances, but also prevents the penetration of most drugs.
Promotes weight loss
Curcumin promotes weight loss by reducing cravings for sweets and fatty food, helps to decrease body fat in the human organism.
A standardized extract is an extract from a plant in which the amount (ratio) of the active ingredient is precisely determined and scientifically proven by various methods. Having exactly the known amount of the active ingredient, doctors can select dosages and define a treatment plan, relying on a certain therapeutic effect.
A good example of supplement containing pure standardized extract is Organic 95% Turmeric Extract Powder by Micro Ingredients. This turmeric powder extract does not taste bitter, has no aftertaste and soluble in water, so you can add it to any meal you want, even to your delicious shake or smoothie.
Thus, the extract helps to solve the challenge of excessive consumption of the turmeric. The next necessary step for manufacturers is to maximize the bioavailability of curcuminoids and their effective penetration into the blood system.
Some manufacturers report about 100% absorption of their product compared to the standardized extract, others about the gradual release and penetration of curcumin into the blood within up to 12 hours.
Below we will consider the main methods and additional substances used for maximum absorption of curcuminoids. This will help you find the right supplement depending on the health condition you want to prevent or to treat.
Curcumin C3 Complex®
Scientists, knowing the power of active ingredients of turmeric and their positive effect on human cells, have long tried to improve their bioavailability, studying various formulas and forms. Finally, in the 1990s, a group of scientists prepared the Curcumin C3 complex®.
C3 is a patented trademark. This brand is currently the most researched and has an extensive scientific evidences of clinical efficacy and bioavailability.
The complex contains three curcuminoids:
• curcumin (75-81%),
• demetoksikurkumin (15-19%),
• bisdemetoksikurkumin (2.2-6.5%)
The complex maintains the exact natural ratio of these curcuminoids, allowing them to effectively penetrate into the blood. Thus, the content of curcuminoids in the preparation must be at least 95%.
You can consider Curcumin C3 Complex by Physician Naturals as an example of pure C3 formulation.
However, the C3 formulation is poorly absorbed, so the C3 is better to take, when treating inflammations of the gastrointestinal tract, where they will have time to exert their beneficial effects.
For the treatment of inflammations of other organs and body systems more bioavailable curcumin formulas should be chosen.
Curcumin with Black Pepper (BioPerine)
The most common way to improve the penetration of curcuminoids into the blood system is to add Piperine –alkaloid of black pepper. Bioperine is a patented brand of piperine. Bioperine has the unique property of stimulating the absorption of other nutrients, while not irritating the gastrointestinal tract. Affecting enzymes and the processes of digestion and absorption, it positively affects the metabolism, thereby significantly increasing both the absorption of the nutrients and the time duration they stay in the blood.
In clinical trials, BioPerine showed an improvement in absorption: Coenzyme Q10 by 31.8%, Selenium by 42.6%, Vitamin C by 52.3%, Vitamin A by 61.2% and also many other various substances: fat and water-soluble vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and aminoacids.
Piperine improves the availability of curcuminoids, according to research, by 2000% (20 times) and increases the time that curcumin stay in the blood stream up to 3 hours.
The most popular supplement on the market today is Curcumin with BioPerine by BioSchwartz.
Curcumin and Phospholipids
Another way to improve the availability of curcumin is to combine it with phospholipids. The best studied and most useful phospholipid is Lecithin.
Phospholipids are the highest fatty acids that help nutrients pass into the cell. Curcumin is combined with phospholipids by modern technological methods, greatly increasing the absorption and penetration of curcumin to the body cells.
One of such patented brands is Longvida, containing 20% of curcuminoids and 80% of phospholipids.
Manufacturers position this curcumin formula not only as more absorbable (65 times more than standardized curcumin), but also affecting certain disorders. Studies have been conducted about the effect of Longvida extract on the Alzheimer’s disease, which showed quite good results: Curcumin Longvida effectively penetrates the blood-brain barrier (the barrier between the blood and central nervous system).
However, we should not forget that the formula of curcumin with BioPerine simply did not undergo such researches so it is impossible for now to determine which of these forms is better.
A good example of worthy representative of Longvida brand is Curcumin Longvida by ProHealth.
Another phospholipid based patented brand is Meriva. It also contains about 20% of curcuminoids and 80% of phospholipids. Studies have shown an improvement in the absorption of this curcumin formula by 29 times compared to the standardized extract. However, there is no convincing scientific data that this formulation is preferable to Longvida.
A worthy representative of Meriva brand is Meriva Curcumin by Thorne Research.
Curcumin complex with the patented name BCM-95 (Biocurcumin) mixes curcuminoids with turmeric essential oils.
The manufacturer claims, that this method allows to improve the absorption of curcuminoids by more than 6-7 times. Studies have really proved an improvement in the effectiveness of this formulation compared with standard curcumin. The formula contains about 86% of curcuminoids and 7-9% of turmeric essential oils.
Naturally, compared with the standard curcumin, the bioavailability of the BCM-95 mixture is high, but it must be admitted – BCM-95 is inferior to other forms. Anyway, it will suit you if you need a pure, highly absorbable curcumin extract.
The supplement is considered to be good for a wide range of diseases: diseases of the urogenital system, liver diseases, various inflammatory processes and prostatitis.
The perfect example of the supplement of BCM-95 brand is BCM-95 Bio-Curcumin Complex by Health Thru Nutrition.
Water Soluble Micellar Curcumin(NovaSOL)
Another way to improve the availability of curcumin is to combine it with micelles. This is a rather complicated process that naturally occurs in our gastrointestinal tract during which the absorption of water-insoluble substances takes place. Micelles, due to their unique structure, capture particles of insoluble substances and transport them through the intestinal walls into the blood.
This proprietary development is known as NovaSOL. In the United States, it is sold only to the Solgar company under the nameFull Spectrum Curcumin.
Solgar claims quite incredible absorption of curcumin (no less than 185 times compared to the standardized extract), which can have a positive effect on the joints, immune and nervous systems.
However, be careful: Few researches have been done so far and it’s too early to announce its benefits accurately. Moreover, there is already evidence that, despite the manufacturer’s claim to keep curcumin in blood plasma up to 24 hours, its level drops sharply (more than 2 times) after 2 hours and disappears by 24-hour period. There is also evidence of the standard side effects of this curcumin formula: nausea, vomiting and indigestion.
Theracurmin – a New Effective Curcumin Formulation
All the methods above use both an improvement in absorption of curcuminoids and increase in their penetration into the blood. Studies show that the positive effect and results are achieved even with a slight absorption of curcumin. But if one achieves the maximum possible absorption, then this would have the strongest healing effect though using a smaller amount of the substance.
So, new developments have led to the appearance of a modern curcumin supplement formula – Theracurmin.
Curcuminoids do not dissolve in water and, thus, quickly precipitate. Putting curcumin in a fatty environment solves the problem of absorption, but you always want more.
If particles of an insoluble substance are broken up to nanoparticles, that is, artificially dissolved in water- it will not precipitate for a long time. New formulation allows you to absorb such particles by the cells of the gastric mucosa. This is one of the most modern methods of creating anticancer drugs and is being intensively developed by scientists.
Nanoparticles are tiny particles, the size of which allows them to be absorbed by the cells. Nanotechnology is the future of science and medicine.
Studies show that absorption of Theracurmin is 27 times higher compared with curcumin extract. This form also shows greater activity, which is characterized by a stronger therapeutic effect.
In one research investigating effects of Theracurmin on joints pain (osteoarthritis), patients were given 180 mg of Theracurmin every day for 8 weeks. The results were very good as compared with the placebo group in terms of safety, pain relief and disease symptoms. As a result, Theracurmin was recommended as a supplement that slows down the process of joints inflammation, reduces pain and symptoms and can significantly reduce the consumption of chemical drugs.
The formula of Theracurmin was researched also regarding the effects of curcuminoids on cancer cells. Therefore, we can say for now that this curcumin formula, in addition to its anti-inflamatory effects, is preferable for anticancer prevention.
The most well known Theracurmin supplement is Theracurmin by Natural Factors.
In any case, each curcumin form has different properties and you should decide, which form suits you best. But one thing is certain: any supplement is a part of an integrated treatment. Keeping a healthy lifestyle, and following the instructions of our doctor we will certainly succeed.
Side effects of Curcumin
Curcumin, when absorbed by the human organism, does not cause negative and toxic effects. The lethal dose of intake (considering an average weight of an individual to be 70 kg) is 140 gr. Just do not forget, this is the weight of curcumin, not turmeric. We just don’t have enough money to poison ourselves with such quantities.
However, curcumin can be an allergen and you should be careful if you suffer from allergies.
Curcumin is not recommended for pregnancy and lactation. During this period everything must be strictly controlled by a doctor who specialises in pregnancy and birth.
Curcumin is a powerful choleretic, stimulating the secretion of bile by the liver. Thus, for patients with gallstone disease curcumin should be taken only after consultation with the doctor.
The increase in bleeding during intake is usually associated with the blood-thinning properties of curcumin, especially when taken with other anticoagulants. So, in the period before or immediately after the planned surgery Curcumin should not be taken.
It is not recommended taking curcumin more than 8 grams (8000 mg) per day. Nevertheless, studies show that taking 9–11 grams of curcuminoids per day for 3 months does not have any harmful toxicological effects on the human body.
Curcumin has been studied for several decades and its absolute safety has been confirmed by many international organizations and studies.
Turmeric powder will help with inflammatory diseases of the stomach and esophagus; its further absorption is difficult. Therefore, with such kind of problems you can use high-quality turmeric-based spices and supplements based on it.
If you need a powerful integrated anti-inflammatory preparation, then choose supplements in the modern high-absorbable form where curcumin is combined with conductive substances.
If you need curcumin form that can be used simultaneously with drugs – you should choose the curcumin without Biopeperin in the composition: piperine can have an unwanted impact on the absorption of many drugs.
Looking generally, it can be stated that Theracurmin, Longvida and NovaSOL (micellar curcumin) forms are champions in the bioavailability of curcuminoids. There is no need to mix these supplements with alkaloids of black pepper. Of these, Theracurmin also comes out as winner: without side effects and with perfect trial results.
And should we leave behind adding good old turmeric to our favorite dishes? Anyway, adding this spice to your diet is always a wise choice.