WHAT IS TURMERIC?
Turmeric is the spice that gives curry its yellow color. It has been used in India for thousands of years as a spice and as a medicinal herb. Until the last several years, most Westerners had never heard of Turmeric. Today Turmeric has grown in popularity so much that is has become one of the most popular herbs, as well as one of the most scientifically researched herbs. Here, we will discuss the important active compound in Turmeric that makes it so powerful, as well as the top evidence-based health benefits of Turmeric.
WHAT ARE TURMERIC’S BIOACTIVE COMPOUNDS?
Turmeric contains natural, plant based compounds that are called curcuminoids. The most important of these is one that is called curcumin. Curcumin is the main active ingredient in the Turmeric plant. It is widely believed that this compound supports healthy anti-inflammatory processes, as well as being a powerful and strong antioxidant. It is very important that we understand the curcumin content of plain raw Turmeric root is relatively low. Actual curcumin content is approximately 3-6 percent by weight. What this means is that when we consume the pure, raw Turmeric root, 3-6 percent of that root is providing us the active compound curcumin, which is what all of the clinical trials and studies are focusing on and utilizing.
WHY IS CURCUMIN IS IMPORTANT?
Curcumin is a natural anti-inflammatory compound. This means that it supports our natural and inflammatory processes. Many scientist now beleive that chronic, low level inflammation is in almost every chronic western health condition. Specifically, it is believed through research that curcumin blocks NF-kB, a molecule that travels into the nuclei of your cells and turns on genes related to inflammation. Without getting too complicated, the take away is that curcumin may support healthy inflammation at the molecular level.
Curcumin also supports healthy antioxidant levels in our bodies. It is beleived to have powerful antioxidant abilities and to support a 2 phase antioxidant system. Phase 1 is to neutralize the free radicals and phase 2 is to stimulate our own antioxidant enzymes.
Brain health is also a benefit one may recieve from taking Curcumin. Clinical studies suggest that curcumin may boost levels of the brain hormone BDNF (Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor). BDNF supports the growth of new neurons and fights degenerative processes in our brains. There is also good research that points to curcumin’s ability to support a healthy heart and cardiovascular system, as well as a healthy and postivie mood.
WHAT DOES THIS ALL MEAN?
Most of the studies that have been conducted on Turmeric are using dosages that usually exceed one gram per day of curcumin. One gram equals 1,000 milligrams. To put this into perspective, one standard capsule that we are all used to taking in supplement form, contains approximately 400-500 milligrams of active ingredient. The point is that it would be very difficult to reach the levels that are being utilized in studies that show potential great health benefits by just consuming Turmeric spice in your food or juice. While we use Turmeric spice in a very large percentage of our food and juice, we also consume supplement forms of Turmeric that contain concentrated curcumin. Below is an example of how a label would read of a product that contains both Turmeric as a raw herb and curcumin as a concentrated, active compound.
ORGANIC TURMERIC ROOT EXTRACT STANDARDIZED TO 95% CURCUMONOIDS. -500 MG
ORGANIC GINGER ROOT -50 MG
ORGANIC BLACK PEPPER FRUIT EXTRACT -10MG
Please note this is only an example of what we like to find in a Turmeric/curcumin supplement. Many companies that have good products do not have this exact ingredient profile and may add or substract different ingredients. We are just providing a solid example of what to look for in a Turmeric supplement. The key is to get the high levels of curcumonoids. The ginger and the black pepper help to support metabolism and activation.
In closing, we strongly recommend if you are interested in this beautiful, bright yellowish organge spicy herb, that you do just a little bit of your own research and read some of the promising clinical trials on Turmeric and its active compound curcumin. It has a rich history and we enjoy using it on a daily basis!