Turmeric and Curcumin
What are the health benefits of turmeric versus curcumin?
Turmeric is undoubtedly one of the most popular natural ingredients right now, thanks to its potency and versatility. This bright, yellowy-orange powder can be mixed into smoothies or used in stews for flavouring, and even has benefits as a skin treatment. But what is turmeric exactly?
Turmeric is a rhizome (root) in the ginger family native to southern parts of Asia. For thousands of years, people have used it for its health benefits and pigment qualities. In its raw form, it looks like a scaly, miniature ginger root, but cutting it open reveals a deep orange or earthy yellow colour. Most people may be familiar with turmeric in its powdered form. Powdered turmeric is what gives many curries (and curry powders) their distinctive colour. The root can be consumed dried and powdered or raw.
Health Benefits of Turmeric
In addition to being a delicious ingredient, turmeric turns heads for its powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Herbalists, Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda practitioners use the root for a variety of benefits. These benefits include aiding in digestion, and relieving joint pain and inflammation.
Researchers find that turmeric can provide beneficial effects for those with disorders related to inflammation. The root helps with conditions such as ulcerative colitis, and even reduces plaque buildup to prevent heart disease. A recent meta-analysis found that both turmeric and curcumin in supplement form may help to improve blood lipid levels. This is an important risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Most impressively, these compounds reduced LDL-cholesterol by an average of 34 per cent and blood triglycerides by an average of 21 per cent when compared to a control group. Further research is still required.
What’s the difference between Curcumin and Turmeric?
How do you distinguish turmeric from curcumin? While turmeric is the entire root, curcumin is the bioactive pigment found in it. Curcumin supplementation increased key antioxidant enzymes in the body in some cases, including superoxide dismutase (SOD), glutathione and catalase — some of the body’s most potent detoxifiers. It’s thought that this could protect against the development of pro-cancerous compounds. Ongoing research is also exploring the role of curcumin in affecting various signaling pathways in the body associated with neurodegeneration (such as Alzheimer’s disease) and cancer. As with the benefits of turmeric, more research needs to be done.
One of the more well-documented benefits of curcumin is its anti-inflammatory properties. This is important to think about for those with conditions like joint inflammation. Curcumin participates in cell signaling and can inhibit inflammatory conditions by reducing the production of pro-inflammatory enzymes called cytokines. By reducing the release of these cytokines, curcumin has been shown to improve symptoms of arthritis. Some proprietary blends have even shown to improve pain, stiffness and physical function in those with knee osteoarthritis.
Beyond adding a glorious glow to traditional Indian dishes, turmeric and curcumin show a lot of promise for various health considerations. Speak with your health care practitioner about whether turmeric and curcumin may be right for you, and visit your local Vita Health location.
Originally Published on CHFA.ca