Guide to Curcumin (Turmeric)

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Turmeric is probably the best known anti-inflammatory supplement and is often called the “all-natural NSAID”. Read on to learn the science behind using turmeric for improving arthritis symptoms.

A spice and an herb

Turmeric is a yellow spice that has been used for thousands of years both as a spice and a medicinal herb. Many people think they can just add some turmeric to their food and see some benefit, but this is not quite the case.

Curcumin vs. Turmeric

Researchers have found that curcumin is the active compound of turmeric that has medicinal properties. The concentration of curcumin in turmeric is only about 3%. You would have to eat massive amounts of turmeric to see any benefit. Most of the studies using turmeric use concentrated curcumin extracted from turmeric.

Turmeric can be high in lead

Depending on where it is sourced, natural turmeric can be high in lead. Extracting the curcumin means you are getting the useful substance and leaving the lead behind.

Effectiveness of Curcumin

Curcumin is a powerful anti-inflammatory that has been proven to suppress inflammation in several different ways. It has also been shown to decrease joint pain and stiffness while slowing joint breakdown.

Tips to Improve Absorption

Curcumin is poorly absorbed into your bloodstream. There are ways to increase absorption. Piperine, which is derived from black pepper, is often used. However, there are substances that increase absorption more effectively. These include phospholipids, antioxidants, and nanoparticles. Curcumin is also fat soluble, so best to take with a meal containing some fat.


Curcumin does not have a lot of side effects associated with it. The most common reported side effect is stomach problems.

Avoid or discuss with your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Also talk to your doctor first if you have gallbladder or bleeding problems or have anemia.

Recommended brands

I recommend these brands based on third-party testing and their formulations which increase absorption.

Natural Factors CurcuminRich Theracurmin

This product is the best value for a nanoparticle formulation. Nano-technology reduces the particle size of the curcumin so it is more easily absorbed by the body. The recommended does when taking curcumin in a nanoparticle formulation is 30-60 mg daily.

This is my personal choice for daily curcumin due to its cost to absorbability ratio .

A1Vitality Turmeric Curcumin NovaSOL

This product is produced with technology that makes it one of the most highly absorbable forms of turmeric on the market. But it comes at an increased cost.

This is my personal choice for turmeric when I want to prepare for an a big activity like a multi-day backpacking trip or a big mountain. It provides just a bit more potency to keep inflammation at bay.

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