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Which is Better Anti-Inflammatory Supplement: Turmeric or Curcumin?

Many people have heard about the benefits of turmeric and curcumin lately because turmeric is often in the news. Turmeric one of the most commonly searched terms for natural anti-inflammatory supplements.  There is increasing publicity behind major research studies that highlight scientific evidence about the medicinal properties of turmeric. But often the words turmeric and curcumin are used interchangeably, so it gets confusing. Turmeric and curcumin are mentioned together because curcumin is the potent ingredient derived from turmeric with the highest anti-inflammatory activity. Curcumin is sometimes extracted from turmeric and isolated in clinical research studies to measure its impact on inflammation.

What is the Difference between Turmeric and Curcumin?

Turmeric is a flowering plant native to Southeast Asia and southern India. Derived from dried, crushed whole turmeric root, turmeric spice is a popular flavor enhancer vegetable and meat dishes. Turmeric is scientifically known as Curcuma longa. It’s turmeric roots, or “rhizomes” that are used in culinary spice powders and herbal tonics.

Turmeric contains many medicinal plant compounds, but one group, curcuminoids, was thought to have the most potent health benefits. The three curcuminoid compounds in turmeric are curcumin, demethoxycurcumin, and bisdemethozycurcumin. Of the three, curcumin is the most active compound. However, it has recently been shown that turmeric contains over 200 active anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds including the curcuminoids that work together within the whole root. It has been demonstrated that whole turmeric it is more potent and stable than products containing only pure curcumin. As with most things in nature, keeping closest to the natural form is often better.

Practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Ayurveda medicine have used turmeric as a natural anti-inflammatory joint pain reliever for centuries because of its anti-inflammatory properties.

Turmeric and Curcumin Have Many Common Health Benefits

Both turmeric and curcumin have been studied extensively in clinical studies to understand their medicinal properties that provide many health benefits. The clinical studies have shown that turmeric and curcumin support many health conditions including:  

Osteoarthritis: Plant compounds in turmeric that contain curcumin can reduce the markers of inflammation and thus relieve the joint pain and stiffness of osteoarthritis similar to OTC and prescription anti-inflammatory pain medicines for arthritis.

Heart Health: Turmeric and curcumin can reduce blood pressure, reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol and triglycerides and reduce the risk of heart disease.

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

Gastrointestinal Health:  Turmeric and curcumin’s anti-inflammatory properties and therapeutic benefit have been demonstrated in a number of gastrointestinal conditions including dyspepsia, peptic ulcer, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis.

Obesity: Turmeric and curcumin may inhibit the inflammatory pathway involved in obesity and may help regulate body fat.

Liver Health: A study found that turmeric extract and curcumin were protective against chronic liver damage by helping reduce harmful oxidative stress and improve Fatty Liver Disease and reduce liver fibrosis and cirrhosis .

Pain Perception: Turmeric and curcumin have been found to improve pain and postoperative fatigue in patient reported outcome studies.  

Skin Health: Ten studies found turmeric and curcumin provided statistically significant improvement in skin diseases., including acne, rosacea, eczema, seborrheic dermatitis, and more. Turmeric also stimulates the production of collagen in the skin and inhibit the breakdown of collagen from sun damage to help protect against premature skin aging, helping maintain youthful appearing skin and hair.

Memory and Mood Balance: Studies show that the active ingredients in turmeric and curcumin provide anti-inflammatory and antioxidant support for improved brain health, memory, and mood balance.

Healthy Inflammatory Response: Extensive studies show that turmeric and curcumin have anti-inflammatory properties and modifies immune system responses.

Antioxidant: Turmeric and curcumin provide antioxidant protection of cells from free radical damage.

Antifungal: Turmeric and curcumin have strong antifungal activity and can disrupt fungal cell membranes and be used in conjunction with fungal medication for better outcomes.

Antibacterial: Turmeric and curcumin have strong antibacterial effects. They can reduce the growth of many disease-causing bacteria.

Anti-viral: Turmeric and curcumin have strong antiviral effects. They may reduce the chance of acquiring cold and flu viruses thru their direct antiviral and immune boosting effects.

Both Turmeric and Curcumin Need High Absorption Formulas to Work

Extensive clinical studies have revealed that it’s the curcumin and other anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds in the turmeric root that produce potent health benefits. The issue with both turmeric and curcumin is poor oral absorption. If the potent plant compounds in turmeric and curcumin are not absorbed in the body, it does not have an impact. In the raw turmeric spice only 3% of curcumin and other active ingredients are absorbed from the turmeric root. However, it must be well absorbed into the body to get the health benefits of the plant compounds.

People can buy a turmeric supplement at the store and think is working, but unfortunately, they are not taking a large enough dose for a health benefit. People assume that taking a generic turmeric supplement will provide the same level of results as a well-studied, highly absorbable form of turmeric curcumin.  But that is simply not the case. How much turmeric do you need to take? It depends.

No Black Pepper or Chemical Enhancers Needed in Water Soluble Turmeric 

Absorption is the key issue that people need to understand about turmeric and curcumin. If you take an unstandardized amount of turmeric root as a supplement, you may have to take many more capsules a day to get the same effect compared to a good turmeric brand which has proven absorption characteristics demonstrated in studies. Some formulations of turmeric curcumin have black pepper extract (biperine) to increase absorption in the gut, but the addition of black pepper can have some adverse side effects. Others use chemical surfactants or detergents to enhance absorption. The best way to take turmeric curcumin supplements is in a water-soluble formula that provides maximum absorption without chemical absorption enhancers or added black pepper. Additionally, micronized or nano forms of turmeric have demonstrated high absorption rates and potency without the need for absorption enhancers.



Whole Turmeric Root is Natural Anti-Inflammatory for Joint Pain Relief

As a natural joint supplement, whole turmeric root supplements remain the leading choice in protecting joints and delaying joint wear and tear conditions like osteoarthritis. Many professional weight trainers and athletes take whole turmeric root natural joint supplement daily to protect their joints and maintain healthy joints. In fact, a study involving animals published by Nutrition Reviews found that taking curcumin three days before engaging in rigorous athletic activity not only "countered damage to muscles" but also reduced recovery times following an endurance performance. Curcumin also decreased the amount of creatine kinase and inflammatory cytokines, two chemicals implicated in muscle damage and inflammation after heavy exercise.

Whole Turmeric Root Supplement Supports Long Term Joint Health

Clinical research results fully support the effectiveness of whole turmeric root for alleviating joint pain and inflammation. A systemic review published by the Journal of Medicinal Food found that subjects taking a turmeric joint relief supplement (1000 mg daily) for about eight to 12 weeks reported a significant decrease in joint pain caused by osteoarthritis and/or arthritis. Another study published by the same academic journal indicated that people with joint pain taking turmeric and curcumin daily for 90 days enjoyed pain relief, reduced swelling and improved range of motion. More importantly, study subjects did not report unpleasant side effects of turmeric and curcumin. This is in contrast to taking ibuprofen or prescription NSAIDS known to cause unpleasant side effects like heartburn, nausea, constipation, fluid retention and migraine. Joint supplements made from whole turmeric root also help protect bones against inflammatory diseases such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus.

The Arthritis Foundation also supports the use of curcumin and turmeric for preventing or decreasing joint pain. Arthritis Foundation cites several studies indicating turmeric provided long-term relief from joint stiffness and inflammation in people with knee osteoarthritis. One study involving subjects with rheumatoid arthritis found that people suffering RA enjoyed greater symptom improvement than they did when taking a prescription NSAID.

Which Supplement Should You Take for Inflammation: Curcumin or Turmeric?

Both curcumin and turmeric have their advantages. Turmeric powders and supplement offer a whole-foods approach, retaining more of the whole roots’ nutrients from nature. Curcumin supplement provides an isolated form of the most active antioxidant compound found in turmeric but without the full benefit of all the other potent compounds in turmeric.

No matter what your choice, always choose a maximum potency, maximum absorption from a trusted source. It’s best to choose a turmeric supplement for joint pain that contains both turmeric and curcumin to get the full compound of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

Take Both Turmeric and Curcumin for Maximum Anti-Inflammatory Benefits

Nuvothera Super-Micronized Turmeric Curcumin provides the highest bioavailability through its microparticle technology, water soluble formulation. The potent curcumin and turmeric compounds are rapidly absorbed into the body, reaching the cells where they are needed most.

Turmeric is one of the major health trends that is here to stay. Learn more about the many health benefits of turmeric. Enjoy the maximum benefits of Nature’s anti-inflammatory supplement with Nuvothera’s Super Micronized Turmeric Curcumin, the maximum performance turmeric. Click here to learn more and get 20% off your first order.

Written by Bev Hope, Director of Marketing at Nuvothera, Inc. who has over three decades working to empower patients to lead healthier lives. Bev has personal and family experience with inflammation based autoimmune disease and is passionate about helping and inspiring people with chronic health conditions live to their best lives.