Curcumin Or Turmeric?

Written By - NCNR Team Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Turmeric is known since centuries for its impressive list of health benefits. However, many people have a confusion between turmeric and curcumin. Find out what is curcumin, how it is different from turmeric and which of these is the most helpful to reduce inflammation.

Turmeric – Oldest Spice

Turmeric is one of the oldest and talked about spice for its impressive list of health benefits. Whether for beautiful skin, or to get rid of cough and cold, or for healing wounds – turmeric is the 1st thing to come in our mind. However, Turmeric and Curcumin There is a lot of confusion between both. These both terms are usually used interchangeably which is incorrect. Let’s find out why?

It is a spice that comes from the root Curcuma longa, a member of the ginger family, Zingaberaceae. In Ayurveda (Indian traditional medicine), tumeric has been used for its medicinal properties for various indications and through different routes of administration, including topically, orally, and by inhalation. For many health concerns curcumin is used such as skin and digestive issues.

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500 to 1,000 milligrams of curcuminoids per day is advised for its anti-inflammatory effects. When using the spice on its own there are 200 milligrams of curcumin in one teaspoon of fresh or ground turmeric.

Curcumin – The Golden Pigment

It is the naturally occurring golden pigment in turmeric spice. It is responsible for giving turmeric its Anti-inflammatory characteristic. The major curcuminoid is called curcumin (diferuloyl methane), which makes up approximately 90% of the curcuminoid content in tumeric, followed by demethoxycurcumin and bisdemethoxycurcmin. Curcumin is about 2-6% of most turmeric, it is known for its anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor and antioxidant effects.

Extraction of Curcumin

Curcumin is extracted from turmeric by a scientific method known as chromatography, which separates each of the curcuminoids and allows curcumin to be isolated. The amount of curcumin is lowest in turmeric root powder, at around 3%, higher in turmeric extract, of which can contain up to 95% curcumin and then there’s 100% curcumin extracted from turmeric.

Mechanism of action

Curcumin has the ability to suppress the acute and chronic inflammation. Therapeutic properties of curcumin is associated with its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Curcumin is a low molecular weight polyphenol with molecular formula of C21H20O6.

Free radical mediated peroxidation of membrane lipids and oxidative damage of DNA and proteins are believed to be associated with a variety of chronic, pathological conditions. The anti-inflammatory effect of curcumin is mediated through its ability to inhibit cyclooxygenase-2 (cox-2), lipoxygenase (lox). Inducible nitric oxide synthase (i NOS) are important enzymes that mediate inflammatory process.

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What works better for reducing inflammation?

curcumin-or-turmeric-article image A large number of studies on curcumin were identified. These included studies on the anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and antifungal properties of curcuminoids. A human trial with 25 subjects using up to 8000 mg of curcumin per day for 3 months found no toxicity from curcumin. Five other human trial using 1125-2500mg of curcumin per day have also found it safe.

These studies found that anti-inflammatory activity of curcumin is very powerful as compared to turmeric. The studies have identified a number inflammatory molecules which are inhibited by curcumin like phospholipase, lipogenase, cyclooxygenase 2, leukotrines, thromboxane, prostaglandins, nitric oxide, collagenase, elastase, hyaluronidase, monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1), , tumor necrosis factor (TNF), interleukin-12 and interferon inducible protein.

Research has proven that extracted curcumin has more antioxidant activity as compared to turmeric powder. It has very poor oral bioavailability (a low percentage of what consumed is absorbed) but bioavailability can be increased by taking it with other agents such as black pepper extract, called piperine.

Research says that extracted curcumin has more antioxidant activity when compared to turmeric powder

We say

500 to 1,000 milligrams of curcuminoids per day is advised for its anti-inflammatory effects. When using the spice on its own there are 200 milligrams of curcumin in one teaspoon of fresh or ground turmeric. The amount of fresh turmeric required for its anti-inflammatory effect would require ingesting ridiculous amounts of turmeric which may not be practically possible. So, it is ideal to consume curcumin extract with high purity levels.


Curcumin has been demonstrated to be safe and anti-inflammatory activity. It may exert its anti-inflammatory activity by inhibition of a number of different molecules that play a role in causing inflammation.