It is very difficult to differentiate between turmeric and curcumin as both terms are used synonymously. Manufacturers creating supplements using turmeric or curcumin argue that they are different, in order to increase the market value of their respective products. Irrespective of whether they are similar or distinct, supplements based on turmeric and curcumin offers significant health benefits.
Turmeric is a spice sourced from the roots of a plant named curcuma longa which belongs to the ginger family. Turmeric is a popular cooking ingredient in Indian cuisines. It is also used as a coloring agent in fabrics. Ayurvedic medicine uses this herb to treat various ailments. The roots of turmeric plant is also used to make herbal tea. Although it is available in the form of capsules, powder and liquid, the extracts in ethanolic form carries more significance. Making supplements based on the entire plant helps to retain full natural benefits. Based on few clinical studies, ethanolic extracts or turmeric rhizome as ingredients in supplements, has more potency than curcumin. In fact turmeric based supplements can treat arthritis much better than supplements based on curcumin.
Turmeric contains many compounds, and each compound is known to have its own set of distinct properties. To elaborate further, it has over twenty compounds that are antibiotic, nearly fourteen compounds with cancer prevention potential, twelve compounds that are anti-tumor in nature, ten compounds rich in anti-oxidants and over a dozen compounds with anti-inflammatory properties. Out of all the compounds, curcumin is the most promising and widely studied ingredient. It is not only present in turmeric but also in ginger. Although curcumin is the active ingredient of turmeric, it is very difficult to be absorbed into the blood stream. While some curcumin based supplements include dietary phenolic, soy lecithin and microcrystalline cellulose, other supplements use standardized turmeric extracts enriched with turmeric essential oils and phospholipids for better absorption. There are many benefits in using supplements based on isolated curcumin too. Rich in anti-cancer properties, it helps to treat several types of cancer by inducing programmed cell death. The anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin is very effective in treating inflammatory bowel disorders characterized by inflammation of the digestive tract.
It is highly recommended that the percentage of curcumin contained in supplements should be atleast 95%. The bio-availability levels of the curcumin is another indicator of how well the compound would be absorbed into the body for maximum effect. The formulation for each supplement varies and you should choose one that best suits your medical condition. The safety of using turmeric and curcumin based supplements when you are pregnant or breastfeeding is not established. The interactions of the supplement with other prescription drugs should also be determined carefully to avoid undesirable effects. Hence, consulting a medical professional can help you to ensure that there wouldn’t be any adverse effects on using the supplement. To sum up, it is important to consider the overall formulation and quality of the supplement than looking at the potency of individual ingredients used.