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Curcumin: A Comprehensive Guide

22 Mar, 2024
Curcumin in a spice bowl surrounded by turmeric root

Top Ten FAQ's - Curcumin

What is curcumin?

Curcumin is the active compound found in turmeric, which is a spice that comes from the turmeric plant (Curcuma longa). It is responsible for the spice's yellow colour and many of its potential health benefits.1

Is curcumin the same as turmeric?

No, curcumin is a chemical compound found within turmeric. Turmeric contains curcumin along with other compounds, like essential oils.2

What are the benefits of curcumin?

Curcumin has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It may help reduce symptoms of arthritis, prevent certain diseases, support heart health, and decrease oxidative stress in the body.1

What does curcumin taste like?

Turmeric, which contains curcumin, may taste different from one person to the next. It is said to have a slightly bitter, but also hot peppery flavour and smell. The taste is sometimes described as a cross between mustard and ginger.

How to make curcumin tea?

You can make curcumin tea by steeping turmeric in hot water, often with lemon and honey to enhance the taste. The tea should be strained before drinking it.

Is curcumin halal?

Curcumin itself is a compound and would be halal, but it is important to check the source and the processing of the product.

Does ginger have curcumin?

No, ginger does not contain curcumin. It contains gingerol and other compounds that are thought to provide various health benefits.3

How long can I take curcumin?

There is no specific limit, but long-term use should be discussed with a healthcare provider, especially at higher doses.

Is Turmeric or Curcumin better?

Whether to take turmeric or curcumin supplements depends on your health objectives. Turmeric, the whole spice, offers the benefits of curcumin along with other beneficial compounds and may be suitable for those preferring a natural approach. Curcumin supplements are concentrated and might be more appropriate for targeted health issues like inflammation.1

In the pantheon of spices, turmeric holds a place of honour for its deep golden hue and myriad of potential health benefits.

At the heart of turmeric's powerful impact lies curcumin, a compound that has captivated both the culinary and scientific communities. Here, we dive into the world of curcumin, exploring its benefits, uses, and the latest research.

What is Curcumin?

Curcumin is the most active constituent of turmeric, a spice that has been used for its medicinal properties for thousands of years in Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine. It’s known for its distinct yellow colour and is a member of the ginger family. But curcumin is not just a colouring agent; it's a polyphenol with strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.4

The Science of Curcumin's Health Benefits

The pharmacological benefits of curcumin are extensive and well-documented by scientific research. It's most renowned for its potent anti-inflammatory effects and its ability to increase the antioxidant capacity of the body.4 Here’s a closer look at the potential health benefits of curcumin:

Anti-inflammatory Power: Chronic inflammation is linked to many common health conditions. Curcumin has been found to suppress many molecules known to play major roles in inflammation.5
Antioxidant Abilities: Oxidative stress is one of the mechanisms behind ageing and many diseases. Research shows that curcumin can neutralise free radicals due to its chemical structure and also boosts the activity of the body’s own antioxidant enzymes.6
Brain Health: Curcumin may increase levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which could be effective at delaying or reversing brain diseases and age-related decreases in brain function.7
Heart Health: Improving the function of the endothelium, the lining of the blood vessels, is another possible benefit of curcumin. There is evidence that curcumin may reduce inflammation and oxidation, which play a role in the development of heart disease, but more research is needed.8
Cancer Prevention: In initial research, curcumin has been studied as a potentially beneficial herb in cancer treatment and has been found to affect cancer growth, development, and spread at the molecular level.9


Incorporating Curcumin into Your Diet

While turmeric is available in spice form and can be added to a variety of dishes, curcumin's low bioavailability means that it's difficult to achieve therapeutic levels simply by eating turmeric.10 Therefore, supplements have become a popular way to consume curcumin.

Potential Side Effects and Interactions

Though curcumin is generally well-tolerated, some people may experience mild side effects including digestive upset, nausea, or dizziness.11 Side effects may be more likely when curcumin is used at higher doses. Because curcumin may also interact with certain medications, including blood thinners and antidepressants, it's important to discuss its use with a healthcare provider before starting.12

The Future of Curcumin Research

The potential of curcumin in modern medicine continues to unfold as researchers delve deeper into its molecular effects. Its potential to modulate multiple cell signalling pathways simultaneously is of particular interest and could make it a potent compound in the fight against complex diseases.

Sustainability and Quality Concerns

As the demand for curcumin grows, there are valid concerns about the sustainability of turmeric farming and the quality of curcumin supplements. It's crucial to source curcumin from reputable suppliers who prioritise sustainable practices and rigorous quality control.

Embracing the Golden Spice

The story of curcumin is not just about a trend; it's about returning to the roots of ancient wisdom and aligning it with modern science. As we understand more about this compound, it's clear that the golden spice of turmeric has more to offer than its vibrant colour and distinctive flavour. Whether incorporated into your diet or taken as a supplement, curcumin holds the promise of a plethora of possible health benefits, making it a golden addition to a healthy lifestyle.

Remember, the key to harnessing curcumin's benefits lies in consistent and mindful consumption, balanced with a comprehensive approach to health and wellness. With its rich history and promising future, curcumin will undoubtedly continue to shine brightly in the world of nutrition and medicine.



  1. Hewlings SJ, Kalman DS. Curcumin: A Review of Its Effects on Human HealthFoods. 2017;6(10):92. doi:10.3390/foods6100092
  2. Zhang HA, Kitts DD. Turmeric and its bioactive constituents trigger cell signaling mechanisms that protect against diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Mol Cell Biochem. 2021;476(10):3785-3814. doi:10.1007/s11010-021-04201-6
  3. Anh NH, Kim SJ, Long NP, et al. Ginger on Human Health: A Comprehensive Systematic Review of 109 Randomized Controlled TrialsNutrients. 2020;12(1):157. doi:10.3390/nu12010157
  4. Sharifi-Rad J, Rayess YE, Rizk AA, et al. Turmeric and Its Major Compound Curcumin on Health: Bioactive Effects and Safety Profiles for Food, Pharmaceutical, Biotechnological and Medicinal ApplicationsFront Pharmacol. 2020;11:01021. doi:10.3389/fphar.2020.01021
  5. Peng Y, Ao M, Dong B, et al. Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Curcumin in the Inflammatory Diseases: Status, Limitations and CountermeasuresDrug Des Devel Ther. 2021;15:4503-4525. doi:10.2147/DDDT.S327378
  6. Jakubczyk K, Drużga A, Katarzyna J, Skonieczna-Żydecka K. Antioxidant Potential of Curcumin-A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Clinical Trials. Antioxidants (Basel). 2020;9(11):1092. doi:10.3390/antiox9111092
  7. Sarraf P, Parohan M, Javanbakht MH, Ranji-Burachaloo S, Djalali M. Short-term curcumin supplementation enhances serum brain-derived neurotrophic factor in adult men and women: a systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of randomized controlled trialsNutr Res. 2019;69:1-8. doi:10.1016/j.nutres.2019.05.001
  8. Cox FF, Misiou A, Vierkant A, et al. Protective Effects of Curcumin in Cardiovascular Diseases-Impact on Oxidative Stress and MitochondriaCells. 2022;11(3):342. doi:10.3390/cells11030342
  9. Giordano A, Tommonaro G. Curcumin and CancerNutrients. 2019;11(10):2376. doi:10.3390/nu11102376
  10. Dei Cas M, Ghidoni R. Dietary Curcumin: Correlation between Bioavailability and Health PotentialNutrients. 2019;11(9):2147. doi:10.3390/nu11092147
  11. Panknin TM, Howe CL, Hauer M, Bucchireddigari B, Rossi AM, Funk JL. Curcumin Supplementation and Human Disease: A Scoping Review of Clinical TrialsInt J Mol Sci. 2023;24(5):4476. doi:10.3390/ijms24054476
  12. Bahramsoltani R, Rahimi R, Farzaei MH. Pharmacokinetic interactions of curcuminoids with conventional drugs: A reviewJ Ethnopharmacol. 2017;209:1-12. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2017.07.022