Turmeric was once merely an underused curry ingredient, now it’s a food supplement and health hero. However, it’s not all been golden lattes and tropical turmeric cleansers, there have been critics too. Turmeric occasionally comes under fire for having little benefit and not living up to the hype.\nThis is because the turmeric in your kitchen cupboard contains very little of the active ingredient curcumin. Choking down powdery spoonfuls from the jar at the bottom of your spice rack just won’t cut it.\nTurmeric can be a root of immense power, but it needs to be prepared correctly. When taken the right way or paired with other valuable substances, it can provide a powerful boost to your health and wellbeing.\nTurmeric and curcumin - Fast facts\n\nTurmeric has been a vital part of Ayurveda for centuries.\nCurcumin is the primary beneficial component of turmeric.\nTurmeric contains between 2 and 8% curcumin.\nFermenting turmeric or taking it with black pepper, can increase its bioavailability by up to 2000%.\nCurcumin is a potent antioxidant and has anti-inflammatory properties.\n\nWhat is turmeric?\n\nTurmeric is the vibrant orange root of the Curcuma longa plant, a member of the ginger family. It can be chopped up, used fresh or dried and pulverised to create a fragrant powder.\nWhile there is a long history of use in food, turmeric also plays a role in religious ceremonies. In paste form, it’s smeared on the face and hands of the bride and groom at Indian wedding celebrations as a blessing.\nIt’s also a crucial component in the Hindu medicinal system of Ayurveda. Ayurveda seeks to keep balance in all body systems to restore and maintain health. Turmeric is used in this way to support the blood, liver, joints, immune system, and digestive tract, as well as for its cleansing energy.\nThe difference between turmeric \u0026amp; curcumin?\nCurcumin is the primary active ingredient in turmeric. Most turmeric powders contain between 2% and 8% curcumin alongside other curcuminoids and turmerone. \nPepper increases bioavailability\nThe major drawback of turmeric is that only a tiny percentage of the curcumin will reach your bloodstream. To improve this, pair turmeric with black pepper. Pepper contains a substance called piperine which can increase the bio-availability by up to 2000%.\nWhat is fermented turmeric?\n\n When considering which product is right for you, you may come across fermented turmeric. Fermentation begins to break down the active ingredients in such a way that its component parts are easier to digest and absorb. Some products like Living Nutrition’s organic turmeric capsules use their own unique fermentation method to enhance the blend of active substances. \nAlong with easier digestion, fermented foods also promote gut health and good bacteria. If you’re looking for a potent product with extra health benefits, fermented turmeric is the way to go.\nWhat are the benefits of turmeric?\nTurmeric has many medically recognised benefits and some that require further research:\n1. Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties\nTurmeric is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. A 2016 review of research concluded that with further investigation it could become a standard therapy for inflammation.\nInflammation is linked to causes and symptoms of many diseases. If your inflammation response becomes chronic, it could cause several conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis.\n2. Improved digestion\n\nDigestive efficiency is based on the permeability of your gut wall. Turmeric may be able to promote and enhance this. Curcumin has also been observed making alterations to gut microbiota over time which in turn supports gut health and eases digestion. It has also been shown to ease gas and bloating effects from some food as well and acting as an antispasmodic, reducing digestive cramps.\n \n3. Better cardiovascular health\n\nCurcumin can reduce the grouping together of platelets in the blood and therefore improve circulation. It is also able to reverse most of the stages of heart disease. Studies have found links to an improved endothelial system that can regulate and improve necessary circulation functions.\nPreviously, doctors prescribed aspirin to reduce the risk of heart attacks; it slows clotting and reduces inflammation. Turmeric produces a similar effect and is gentler on the body.\n4. Immune system support\n\nTurmeric prevents inflammation and supports its healing actions. This boosts your immune system and provides extra nutritional support.\nTurmeric may also prompt T-cells to recognise pathogens and trigger antibody production. This makes your T-cells more vigilant and able to respond to common viruses.\n \n \n5. It may play a role in the future treatment of Alzheimer’s\nTurmeric can cross the blood-brain barrier and shows promise in being able to fight Alzheimer’s by clearing amyloid plaques. There is still lots of research to do, but early indications are positive.\nTurmeric also contains a substance called turmerone. Studies conducted with animals show that it could stimulate the production of new brain cells from stem cells.\n6. A boost for depression-fighting molecules\n\nCurcumin appears to boost levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor and dopamine. Both have a role in reducing the symptoms of depression. At the moment, we don’t know which mechanisms are responsible. As a result, it’s not ready to be a definitive treatment, but it does show promise.\nWhat are the best ways to take turmeric\nTurmeric can be taken in several different ways. Some turmeric preparations are more effective than others and some are easier to find:\n1. Ingested as a root\n\nTurmeric root can be eaten or chewed, providing an excellent source of curcumin naturally. Prepare the root by peeling and slicing into small pieces. It can be hard to find in this form and you’ll need to eat large amounts regularly to get any of the benefits mentioned here.\n \n2. Straight from your spice cupboard\nTurmeric powder is cheap and readily available, you’ll likely have some in your kitchen already. Adding it to your meals will add flavour and increase your curcumin intake, but you’ll need to eat several spoonful's a day for it to be effective.\n3. Taken as a supplement powder\n\nSupplement powders are specially prepared to enhance the amount that reaches your bloodstream. They usually contain other ingredients and higher levels of curcumin. Ideal for mixing into smoothies or your favourite meals.\nCapsules are the easiest way to take turmeric powder. They’re convenient to carry, contain a precisely measured amount of powder and are formulated to be rich in curcumin. You'll also avoid staining your teeth. Check out our selection of the best turmeric supplements available in the UK.\n4. As a tasty gummy\nGummies also provide a precise serving of turmeric. They taste great and are ideal if you have a sweet tooth. The only drawbacks are that they’re not a healthy option due to their sugar content and gummies made with gelatin aren’t suitable for all.\nWhen is it best to take turmeric?\nTurmeric can be taken effectively at any time of day. It’s best when eaten with other foods and combined with fats or black pepper. It can be used equally effectively in a zingy breakfast smoothie or soothing milky latte.\nTurmeric in synergy with other superfoods\nWhile turmeric has many benefits, there are more to be unlocked by matching it with other superfoods:\nTurmeric and collagen\nCollagen is a protein found in great abundance in the human body. It keeps everything together and provides body tissue with elasticity. Products that combine collagen with turmeric, like the tasty pure collagen turmeric latte from Planet Paleo, allow them to work in synergy to tackle issues like inflammation, skin elasticity and arthritis.\nTurmeric and CBD\nCBD and turmeric share many similarities, which make them a useful combination. Also, many of turmeric’s key actions are supported by the presence of CBD. By combining turmeric and CBD into tasty treats, like CBDfx’s vegan CBD gummies, their effects are combined to create a powerful force for health and wellbeing.\nTurmeric and mushrooms\n\nMany mushrooms offer a host of benefits and taste amazing in a stew, a soup or even on toast. However, some pairings give you an invigorating boost and provide powerful brain health support. \nTurmeric and shiitake combine antioxidant properties with essential amino acids, vitamins B and D and selenium. Together they can support your overall health leaving your body and skin feeling revitalised.\nTogether, turmeric with lion’s mane mushroom provide a wider range of benefits. They can improve blood flow to the central nervous system and may even slow the onset of brain degeneration in the elderly.\nConclusion\nTurmeric has a long and brightly coloured history as medicine, food and religious symbol. It is linked to health benefits in nearly all body systems and there’s still the potential for more to be discovered.\nChoosing the right preparation will dictate the strength and focus of these benefits. Look for products that have been enhanced for bioavailability, have a high percentage of curcumin, and retain a full spectrum of turmeric’s other active ingredients.\nJoin us to get updates and special deals monthly:\n\n \n\nFact-checked by Dr Marios Kyriazis.
Tom Russell writes extensively about CBD oil and other groundbreaking food supplements. He and his wife share their home with two daughters and a lifetime’s collection of books.