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Turmeric or Curcumin: Which Should You Choose?

Turmeric is a commonly used spice and a main ingredient in curries throughout Asia. It's sometimes referred to as Indian saffron because of its yellow color. Moreover, its extensive use in traditional medicine has raised considerable interest in its health advantages. The key active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin.

What Are Turmeric and Curcumin?

Turmeric comes from the root of the ginger family's flowering plant, Curcuma longa.

It's often sold in jars with spices. However, if purchased fresh, with a more intense yellow to golden color, it looks similar to ginger root.

Turmeric is used in India for the treatment of skin conditions, digestive problems and aches and pains. It's actually a staple of Ayurvedic medicine, a traditional healing form. Turmeric contains many plant substances, but the greatest health-promoting effects occur in one group, curcuminoids.

Curcumin, demethoxycurcumin, and bisdemethoxycurcumin are the three notable curcuminoids. Of these, curcumin is the most healthy, active and most beneficial. Curcumin, which accounts for about 2-8% of most turmeric preparations, gives the distinct color and flavor of turmeric. Curcumin is known, in its own right, for its anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor and antioxidant effects.


Common Benefits

There are medicinal properties of turmeric and curcumin that provide many health benefits.

Here are some of the areas where both turmeric and curcumin, supported by science, have shown clear benefits:


Antibacterial: The antibacterial effects of turmeric and curcumin are strong. They can decrease the growth of many bacteria that cause diseases.

Antifungal: Turmeric and curcumin can disturb the membranes of fungal cells and should be used for better results in combination with fungal medication.

Cancer: While research is still in its early stages, the function of the colon and other cancer cells can be reduced by turmeric and curcumin.

Diabetes: Turmeric and curcumin will boost the metabolism of blood sugar and potentially reduce the effects on your body of diabetes.

Heart disease: Turmeric and curcumin can lower "bad" LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, thereby reducing the risk of heart disease.

Liver: A study found that by helping to minimize harmful oxidative stress, turmeric extract and curcumin were protective against chronic liver damage.

Osteoarthritis: Curcumin-containing plant compounds in turmeric can reduce the markers of inflammation and thus alleviate the symptoms of osteoarthritis.

Obesity: The inflammatory pathway involved in obesity can be blocked by turmeric and curcumin and can help control body fat.


Turmeric Health Benefits Not Connected to Curcumin

Turmeric is a plant that in the medical world, has earned a lot of respect.

It is not only beneficial for arthritis, but as you age, it can also protect your brain. In the treatment of Parkinson's disease, it shows promise.

Turmeric contains different compounds from plants that work together to support your body. A study that looked at turmeric's antifungal activity found that all eight of its components were able to inhibit fungal growth, including curcumin. The study also demonstrated that the best inhibitory effect was curdione in turmeric. However, its fungal growth inhibition was even greater when combined with the seven other components.

Therefore, while curcumin alone can decrease fungal growth, using turmeric instead can give you a much greater effect. Similarly, another study found that turmeric was better than curcumin alone at suppressing the growth of tumor cells.

However, because turmeric contains curcumin, when it comes to other health problems, it's difficult to decide whether turmeric is better than curcumin. There is a need for further studies that specifically compare and of the results.


Curcumin Is More Beneficial Than Turmeric For Particular Conditions

Since curcumin is known to be the most active ingredient in turmeric, researchers have begun to isolate it and investigate whether it could benefit from certain conditions on its own.

It has been shown to have significant anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects and may also promote wound healing by its antibacterial effects. In addition, both turmeric and curcumin have been shown to minimize blood sugars in type 2 diabetes. However, an animal study found that curcumin was better suited to minimizing diabetes markers than turmeric.

Curcumin can specifically lower inflammatory markers, such as tumor necrosis factor (TNF) and interleukin 6 (IL-6), which are main contributors to type 2 diabetes. Additional studies are required to compare the effects of turmeric and curcumin in people with type 2 diabetes.

These are not the only health benefits of curcumin. It can also reduce the risk of osteoporosis.

Curcumin is also poorly absorbed, however, and can pass undigested into your gut. A good tip is to add some black pepper to your curcumin-containing meals or supplements. A substance called piperine in black pepper will improve the bioavailability of curcumin by 2,000%


Which Should You Choose?

About whether it is best to take curcumin or turmeric supplements, there is no official consensus.

Extracted turmeric with a high curcumin concentration or curcumin alone has been used in most studies that have shown beneficial effects. It's essential to buy a formula that has been clinically tested and proven to be well absorbed when buying a supplement.

Turmeric extracts with 1 gram of curcumin per day demonstrated the greatest benefit after 8-12 weeks in a study on joint arthritis. 700 mg of turmeric extract twice a day can be beneficial for those who want to reduce their cholesterol.

One eight-week study showed that cholesterol, waist circumference and inflammation were decreased by 2.4 grams of turmeric powder combined with nigella seeds per day. Although the evidence is mixed, one study in athletes showed that 6 grams of curcumin and 60 mg of piperine helped to decrease muscle damage after exercise in three divided doses.

Curcumin is known to be well-tolerated and up to 12 grams a day has been measured at high doses. However, some side effects, such as gut pain and nausea, may be induced.


To Sum It Up

Turmeric is a golden spice which for thousands of years, has been used to treat inflammation, bacterial infections and digestive problems. Curcumin, which has proven antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, is included.

About whether it is best to take curcumin or turmeric supplements, there is no official consensus.

Most studies use extracted turmeric alone with a high curcumin or curcumin concentration. Joint inflammation, cholesterol, blood sugar, as well as tumor, fungal and bacterial growth can be minimized by both turmeric and curcumin.

With your turmeric powder or substitute, make sure you have some black pepper, as this will help boost the absorption of curcumin.

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