If you’ve ever had curry, odds are you’ve tasted turmeric. If you aren’t familiar with this orange-colored spice, you should be. Why? Specifically, as a dietary supplement, turmeric’s popularity is booming.
The spice that we call turmeric comes from the flowering turmeric plant (Curcuma longa), which is related to ginger. Like the ginger plant, turmeric (the spice) comes from the rhizomes, the plant’s underground stem. Making the spice involves grinding either boiled or dried turmeric rhizomes into a powder (1).
A Brief History of Turmeric
For thousands of year, people throughout South Asia have used turmeric both as a spice and in medicinal remedies. The oldest traces of turmeric were discovered in 4,500-year-old pots near New Delhi, India. Moreover, practitioners of Ayurvedic (traditional Indian) medicine have used turmeric since at least 500 BCE. Also, turmeric’s bright color has made it in a common dye for textiles throughout Asia.
However, using turmeric both as a spice and for medicinal purposes in the Western world is much more recent. One of the first Western recipes featuring turmeric only dates to the mid-1700s (2). These days, turmeric is still firmly rooted in South Asia. In fact, India produces 80% of all turmeric used globally, making it the world’s largest producer (3).
What is Curcumin?
When people talk about turmeric, they also frequently use the word ‘curcumin.’ So what’s the difference between the two? Turmeric is the plant as well as the spice that’s named after the plant. Curcumin is a chemical found in turmeric. However, some people use the terms interchangeably.
New Findings About Turmeric/ Curcumin’s Health Benefits
Turmeric contains several vitamins and minerals – vitamin B, vitamin K (potassium), iron, copper, and manganese. On top of that, it also contains dietary fiber (4). At the same time, the chemical curcumin produces very positive effects on the human body.
According to preclinical evidence, turmeric curcumin produces several health benefits. In general, researchers believe it has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anticancer, and neuroprotective protective. Additional ongoing research is exploring curcumin’s potential for treating different types of cancer including prostate, pancreatic, lung, breast, and colorectal cancer. What’s more, in the future further studies will examine curcumin’s effectiveness for treating conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and major depressive disorder (5).
As research into curcumin’s medicinal effectiveness continues, much of the focus is on its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Specifically, these properties could have a direct impact on inflammatory conditions such as cancer, cardiovascular conditions, liver damage, and arthritis (6).
These findings are especially encouraging for people suffering from osteoarthritis (OA). Currently, over 30 million Americans deal with OA. As the American population ages, this number will continue to grow.
Several studies show that turmeric curcumin therapy is effective at reducing arthritis symptoms. Furthermore, it is as effective as ibuprofen and diclofenac sodium for treating arthritis-related pain and inflammation (6). In a separate study involving individuals with rheumatoid arthritis, treatment with curcumin was more effective than treatment with an anti-inflammatory drug (7).
Multiple studies suggest that curcumin could be effective at treating and possibly preventing certain types of cancer. Although the research is recent and ongoing, the evidence so far is promising. Studies show that curcumin could help to kill cancer cells, reduce the growth of tumors, and limit the spread of cancer. What’s more, some studies show that it can reduce the growth of cancer cells, both in the lab and in mice.
However, there is evidence that it may prevent cancer from occurring in the first place, especially cancers of the digestive system like colorectal cancer. On the other hand, there is also evidence that curcumin could help prevent certain cancers like colorectal cancer (8). In addition, curcumin could also increase chemotherapy’s effectiveness and also protect healthy cells during radiation (9).
Turmeric Curcumin’s Additional Health Benefits
Depending on which source you listen to, curcumin can do everything from stop inflammation to help fight cancer. Some of its many traditional medicinal uses include (10):
- Joint and muscle issues – joint pain, sprains, swelling, and bruising
- GI issues – heartburn, stomach pain, Crohn’s disease, diarrhea, intestinal gas, bloating, loss of appetite, stomach ulcers, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Internal organ health – kidney problems, jaundice, liver problems, Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection, and gallbladder disorders
- Skin problems – inflammation, pain, and acne
- Mouth issues – soreness inside of the mouth and gum disease
- Pulmonary problems and infections – bronchitis, colds, lung infections, tuberculosis
- Infected wounds
- Eye infections
- Menstrual problems
- Water retention
While not all of these uses listed above are backed by research, below are a few medicinal uses which are backed by evidence:
- Hay fever – Curcumin may reduce symptoms like sneezing, runny nose, itching, and congestion (10).
High cholesterol – May lower levels triglycerides (10).
- Depression – Reduces depressive symptoms in individuals who already take antidepressants. Other evidence suggests that curcumin might boost serotonin and dopamine in the brain, two important chemicals which regulate mood (11).
- Alzheimer’s – Some sources suggest that curcumin may help protect against Alzheimer’s (12).
Turmeric Curcumin: Adding Spice to the Supplement Industry
Right now, turmeric curcumin is one of the most popular dietary supplements. But this staple of South Asian cuisine and traditional medicine is much more than hype and hoopla. As the research shows, curcumin, the chemical found in turmeric, produces numerous health benefits. Due to its many benefits and usefulness, turmeric consumption is expected to increase in the next few years.
Over the past few years, there has been an upsurge in turmeric’s popularity in North America. What’s more, experts predict that by 2021 the U.S. market will continue to grow to an almost $250 million sector, a more than $65 boom over 2016 when U.S. turmeric market was worth over $180 million (13).
ABH Pharma offers Organic Turmeric Curcumin Formula (95%) in 1500 mg caplets. Although we offer it as one of our Stock Nutra stock products, we can customize the packaging for your brand. You can add turmeric (curcumin) to your private label or start your own turmeric supplement line from scratch. Contact us today to learn more about turmeric and other stock supplements. Learn how you can partner with us to deliver the highest quality dietary supplements to consumers.