You’ve probably heard about the various health benefits of turmeric and curcumin by this time, and you may have also noticed that the two names are occasionally used interchangeably within the same article.

Since curcumin is derived from turmeric, which has been consumed for thousands of years for its health-promoting effects, the two are often mentioned together. Curcumin was found due to scientists’ quest to understand precisely what it is about turmeric that is so beneficial to our bodies.

This article explores the difference between curcumin and turmeric, their benefits as supplements, side effects, and dosage. 

Curcumin vs. Turmeric Differences

Turmeric is a plant, and the spice that is used in cooking and herbal drinks is made from the plant’s roots. An Indian cuisine staple, turmeric is a spice that is frequently seen in curries. It belongs to the ginger family and is a rhizome. This spice is distinguished by its vivid yellow/orange coloring. 

Curcumin is a carotenoid molecule and a naturally occurring substance giving the plant’s roots its vivid yellow color. Curcumin is one of the bioactive substances called curcuminoids that are present in turmeric.

Although turmeric is frequently considered to be a healthy supplement, most of these advantages actually come from curcumin. Curcumin is the “star” of turmeric since it makes up 75% of the active curcuminoids, even though turmeric only contains 2–9% of them.

Curcumin vs. Turmeric Benefits 

Both curcumin and turmeric have therapeutic and antimicrobial properties. Studies suggest they might help those with obesity, osteoarthritis, and heart disease.

Here are some of the scientifically proven benefits of turmeric and curcumin:

Bioactive Compounds with Medicinal Benefits

It is worth noting though, that turmeric does not contain a high curcumin level of around 3% by weight [1]. To improve the bioavailability or the body’s ability to absorb a substance, consuming turmeric with black pepper can improve curcumin’s absorption by 2000% [2]. This is due to black pepper’s piperine, a natural substance helping the body absorb curcumin better.

This is why you should check curcumin supplements with piperine, as it has a high efficacy rate. Remember that curcumin is also fat soluble, so it’s highly advisable to take curcumin supplements with a meal high in fat. Being fat-soluble means the body can easily break down the nutrients in fat or oil. 

Increases the Antioxidant Capacity of the Body

One of the mechanisms thought to contribute to aging and many diseases are oxidative damage. Free radicals are extremely reactive molecules with unpaired electrons that are involved in this process.

Antioxidants are mostly helpful because they shield your body from free radicals. Due to the chemical makeup of curcumin, it is a powerful antioxidant that can combat free radicals [3].

Additionally, research on animals and cells indicates that curcumin may reduce the activity of free radicals and maybe promote the activity of other antioxidants. More human clinical trials are necessary to confirm these benefits [4].

Reduces the Risk of Heart Disease

Curcumin has the potential to help reverse many stages of the heart disease process. [5 6].

Curcumin may reduce the risk of heart disease by enhancing the function of the endothelium, the lining of your blood vessels [7]

One of the main causes of heart disease is endothelial dysfunction. This occurs when your endothelium cannot control different elements, including blood pressure and blood clotting [8]. Curcumin may benefit heart health, according to several studies [9 10]

Researchers randomized 121 patients undergoing coronary artery bypass surgery to receive either a placebo or 4 grams of curcumin daily for a few days before and after the procedure.

Those who took curcumin had a 65% lower chance of having a heart attack in the hospital [11].

Prevents cancer

Curcumin has been evaluated as a helpful herb in cancer treatment and has been discovered to impact cancer growth and development [12].

According to studies, it can [13, 14]:

  • help in the elimination of cancerous cells
  • prevent angiogenesis (growth of new blood vessels in tumors)
  • prevent metastasis (spread of cancer)

It has not yet been thoroughly investigated whether high-dose curcumin, preferably with an absorption booster like piperine, can aid in treating cancer in humans.

However, there is evidence to suggest that it may prevent cancer from developing at all, particularly tumors of the digestive tract like colorectal cancer [15].

In a 30-day study, 4 grams of curcumin per day reduced the number of lesions by 40% in 44 men with lesions in the colon that often progressed to cancer [16].

Curcumin vs. Turmeric Supplement 

There is no clear consensus on whether it is better to take curcumin or turmeric supplements.

A high dose of curcumin from extracted turmeric or curcumin alone has been used in most studies that have demonstrated positive results.

It’s critical to choose a supplement with a formula that has received clinical testing and is well absorbed.

Curcumin vs. Turmeric Dosage

Turmeric extracts containing 1 gram of curcumin per day showed the highest efficacy in a study on joint arthritis after 8–12 weeks [17].

For people looking to lower their cholesterol, 700 mg of turmeric extract twice a day may be beneficial [18].

Research that lasted eight weeks indicates that consuming 2.4 grams of nigella seeds and turmeric powder per day decreased inflammation, waist circumference, and cholesterol [19].

Curcumin is generally considered as well tolerated and has been tested for up to 12 grams per day [20 21]. In fact, The Food and Drug Administration deemed turmeric and spices such as cinnamon safe [22].

Curcumin vs. Turmeric Side Effects 

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) states that while turmeric is typically safe, taking it in large doses or for extended periods may cause gastrointestinal discomfort [23]. 

Previously, a small study involving 24 participants discovered that ingesting 500 to 12,000 mg of curcumin was linked to some adverse effects, including diarrhea, skin irritation, yellow stools, and headache [24].

Bottomline

For thousands of years, people have consumed the golden spice turmeric to heal bacterial infections, digestive problems, and inflammation.

It contains curcumin, which is known to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

Both turmeric and curcumin help lower blood pressure, cholesterol, tumor, fungal, and bacterial growth.

Be sure to consume some black pepper along with your turmeric powder or pill since it will enhance the absorption of curcumin.

Despite its several health benefits, there is no single agreement yet on whether taking curcumin or turmeric supplements would benefit people in improving their health condition.

Disclaimer: This article is only a guide. It does not substitute the advice given by your own healthcare professional. Before making any health-related decision, consult your healthcare professional.

Editorial References And Fact-Checking 

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Charish Luzuriaga, RDN

Charish is a Registered Nutritionist-Dietitian (RDN) who really enjoys helping her readers understand their dietary habits better. She has impressive experience and knowledge about the nutritional values of various foods and ingredients and enjoys informing her readers about popular diets, supplements, and herbs. Charish harnesses her nutritional expertise to inspire and empower people to make positive, healthy changes through what they eat (and drink!). LinkedIn

Author

  • Charish is a Registered Nutritionist-Dietitian (RDN) who really enjoys helping her readers understand their dietary habits better. She has impressive experience and knowledge about the nutritional values of various foods and ingredients and enjoys informing her readers about popular diets, supplements, and herbs. Charish harnesses her nutritional expertise to inspire and empower people to make positive, healthy changes through what they eat (and drink!). LinkedIn

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Charish is a Registered Nutritionist-Dietitian (RDN) who really enjoys helping her readers understand their dietary habits better. She has impressive experience and knowledge about the nutritional values of various foods and ingredients and enjoys informing her readers about popular diets, supplements, and herbs. Charish harnesses her nutritional expertise to inspire and empower people to make positive, healthy changes through what they eat (and drink!). LinkedIn