Often, I’ll get people asking, “What’s the difference between turmeric and curcumin? Should I get the supplement, or the spice?”
It’s a great question. Turmeric (ter-mer-ick) is a spice made from the rhizomes (the horizontal root-like projections, just like ginger) of the Curcuma longa plant. It has been used as a spice, and in Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese medicine, for thousands of years.
Curcumin (ker-kew-min), on the other hand, is the active ingredient in turmeric, which is isolated and used in supplements. It regulates inflammatory responses, and recent studies suggest that it may be useful in the amelioration of MS, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, IBD, and other autoimmune conditions. It may function as an antioxidant, aid in glutathione synthesis, and some studies show that curcumin shows promise as an anti-cancer phytochemical. It also is being studied as an inhibitor in Alzheimer’s Disease.
Most studies done are on the benefits of curcumin, rather than on turmeric, as turmeric rhizome only contains about 2-5% curcumin. In order to reap the same level of benefits, you’d have to eat incredibly large amounts of the fresh or powdered turmeric.
So should you supplement, or eat your curcuminoids? If you’ve been advised by a healthcare practitioner to take a curcumin supplement, then eating turmeric alone will not be potent enough to work in its place. That doesn’t mean, however, that you shouldn’t consume turmeric as a spice. Regular consumption of curries, using turmeric as a spice, or even juicing the turmeric rhizome will still provide health benefits for those just looking for a reduction in inflammation, and a health boost.
Turmeric and curcumin should be used with caution by those with gallbladder issues, ulcers, and bleeding disorders. As always, check with your healthcare practitioner before adding a new supplement to your routine.
About The Author:
Kelly Boaz, CNP
Kelly is a holistic nutritionist, specializing in eating disorder recovery and food freedom. She is also a public speaker (TEDx King St. West, TDSB) and a writer. Learn more about Kelly, and about booking private consultations at kellyboaz.com Twitter: @kelly_boaz Facebook: /KellyBoazDotCom