Countless studies have
demonstrated the medicinal benefits of this amazing
herb which you can view here.
Once you see the irrefutable proof that turmeric has
a plethora of important health benefits
you will be eager to work it into your everyday
diet. However, before you begin consuming this
potent food medicine, you need to understand how to
fully unlock its powerful healing potential.
a rhizome (A type of horizontal, usually
underground stem that sends out roots and shoots
from its nodes; AKA as a rootstock.) It’s
related to ginger root (also a rhizome) both are
classified as members of the Zingiberacaea family;
it has been a stellar staple in the pharmacopeia of
traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and Ayurvedic
medicine for eons; It’s been in continuous use for
thousands of years as a medicine, spice (curry) and
Curcumin (diferuloylmethane) is
the yellow pigment found in the spice turmeric (Curcuma
longa). Curcumin is one of three known curcuminoids
present in turmeric, the other two being
desmethoxycurcumin and bis-desmethoxycurcumin.
Scientists have still not
identified all the constituents in turmeric.
Researchers continue to discover new curcuminoids.
Current estimations are that turmeric contains well over
a hundred chemical compounds which are primarily located
in the essential oil of this complex medicinal spice.
A major problem with Turmeric
(Curcuma longa) is curcumin’s (CUR) low bioavailability.
Curcumin is the key active constituent of Turmeric.
A preponderance of animal and clinical studies reveal
that the concentrations of CUR in blood plasma, urine,
and peripheral tissues, if detectable at all, are
extremely low regardless of dosage size.
According to the Merck
manual, “Bioavailability refers
to the extent to and rate at which the active moiety
(drug or metabolite) enters systemic circulation,
thereby accessing the site of action.”
Essentially, bioavailability is
about how much of an ingested substance is actually
absorbed by our bodies. It follows that substances with
poor bioavailability will not be effective for healing
Turmeric’s Low Bioavailability
Numerous curcumin studies confirm
that very low blood serum levels are reached when
curcumin is orally administered. The majority of orally
ingested curcumin gets metabolized before it reaches the
bloodstream. Increasing the dose does not result
in greater absorption.
The route of administration and
method of preparation are major factors affecting the
bioavailability or serum levels of turmeric.
Turmeric’s bioavailabity can be
enhanced with the addition of specific Adjuvants.
A study on the fate of curcumin
in the rat (1978) by Whalstrom and Blennow showed oral
curcumin was poorly absorbed in the gut. When 1g/kg of
curcumin was orally administered to the rats only a
negligible amount of curcumin was found in their blood
plasma. About 75% of it was excreted via the feces.
A study in 1980 by Ravindranath et al
found when rats were orally
administered 400 mg of curcumin, no trace of curcumin
was found in the heart blood while only a small trace
was found in the portal blood within 15 min to 24 hours
Another recent study by Yang et al
found that when 10 mg/kg of curcumin was orally
administered only 0.36 µg/ml of curcumin was found in
the blood serum.
A pilot study conducted by
Sharma et al.
on patients with colorectal cancer. The patients were
given Curcuma extract which contained 36–180 mg curcumin
in proprietary capsule for 4 months. After 29 days of
oral curcumin: Neither curcumin nor its metabolites were
detected in the plasma, blood and urine. Although traces
of curcumin and curcumin sulfate were found in feces.
In another study:
Absorption and tissue distribution of curcumin in rats.
Ravindranath et al found after orally administering 400
mg of curcumin to rats: “only traces of the unchanged
molecule were found in the liver and kidney. At 30 min,
90% of the curcumin was found in the stomach and small
intestine, but only 1% was present at 24 h. [hours].”
NOTE: Very few studies have been
done on Curcumin and tissue distribution.
Metabolites are the
intermediate and final products of the
process known as metabolism, which is from the Greek
word for “change.” Metabolism is a step-wise series of
life-sustaining chemical transformations within the
cells of living organisms. The term metabolites commonly
refer to small molecules.
Primary metabolites are necessary
for the normal growth and maintenance of life. Secondary
metabolites support primary metabolite activity
indirectly and serve other important ecological
functions. Metabolites are a natural occurrence formed
when as part of an inherent biological process that
breaks down and eliminates various compounds.
Research indicates that
metabolites of curcumin, instead of curcumin itself, are
detected in plasma or serum following oral consumption.
The majority of studies have
shown that these metabolites are actually
less active or potent compared to
curcumin itself. Bottom Line: when curcumin is
metabolized the potency of its metabolites are less
potent than curcumin.
The intestine and liver, is where
oral curcumin is conjugated (the formation of a
water-soluble derivative of a chemical by its
combination with another compound, such as glutathione,
glucuronate, or sulfate.) into metabolites.
Based on various studies the
metabolites produced are: curcumin glucuronides and
curcumin sulfates or, alternately, reduced to
hexahydrocurcumin(HHC) and Tetrahydrocurcumin (THC).
Again most studies have shown that these metabolites are
less biologically active compared to the parent compound
the time it takes for a drug or other ingested substance
to lose half its strength. Medications with a short
half-life must be taken several times a day, to maintain
therapeutically effective concentrations of blood serum
levels. In contrast, medications with longer half
lives maintain effective blood serum levels for much
longer periods of time and can be taken less frequently.
The studies by Whalstrom and
Blennow demonstrated curcumin’s rapid
systemic excretion from the body or short half-life. As
mentioned when 1g/kg curcumin was given orally to rats
around 75% of the curcumin was excreted via the feces
with only trace amounts found in the urine. A short half -life decreases Turmeric’s
therapeutic effect in the body. More studies are needed
in order to draw definitive conclusions about
ThreeEasy Kitchen Table
Strategies that can Skyrocket Turmeric’s Bioavailability
NOTE: Always use fresh
organic, non-irradiated Turmeric powder or whole,
organic turmeric root.
How does Black Pepper
Enhance the Bioavailability of Turmeric?
“Piperine is a potent inhibitor
of drug metabolism. One of the ways our liver gets rid
of foreign substances is making them water soluble so
they can be more easily excreted. But this black pepper
molecule inhibits that process.” –Michael Greger, M.D. (Michael
Greger, M.D., is a physician, author, and
internationally recognized professional speaker on a
number of important public health issues.)
How much Black Pepper?
“If people are given a bunch
of turmeric curcumin, within an hour there’s a little
bump in the level in their blood stream. We don’t see a
large increase because our liver is actively trying to
get rid of it. But what if the process is suppressed by
taking just a quarter teaspoon’s worth of black pepper?
Then you see curcumin levels skyrocket. The same amount
of curcumin consumed, but the bioavailability shoots up
2000%. Even just a little pinch of pepper—1/20th of a
teaspoon—can significantly boost levels. And guess what
a common ingredient in curry powder is besides turmeric?
Black pepper.” – Dr. Michael Greger
The compound Piperine in pepper
significantly increases curcumin and thus Turmeric’s
overall bioavailability. When pepper is freshly ground
from whole peppercorns the essential oils in the pepper
are more available.
Piperine is the active ingredient
in black pepper; it’s what causes black pepper’s
spiciness and heat.
“The sharp aroma of black
pepper is due to its essential oil content. Black pepper
contains approximately 1.2 to 3.5% essential oil.
Its key chemical constituents include: d-limonene (up to
20%), a-pinene, b-pinene, sabinene, b-caryophyllene and
δ-3-carene. It is an essential oils rich in
monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes (e.g. b-caryophyllene).
As a herb: Black pepper
contains 5-10% pungent acid-amides (pseudoalkaloids),
with piperine as its main compound and several others
including piperyline, piperoleines, and piperamine.
Pharmacological studies show that piperine is analgesic,
antipyretic, anti-inflammatory and exhibits a depressant
effect on the central nervous system.”
entitled: Influence of piperine on the
pharmacokinetics of curcumin in animals and human
volunteers demonstrated that when piperine was
co-administered with curcumin and given to human
subjects the bioavailibity of curcumin increased 2000%.
2) Add a Healthy Fat to
Since turmeric is fat-soluble, in
order for your body to fully absorb it and experience
its amazing health benefits, Turmeric needs to be
combined with a fat.
“When it doesn’t dissolve
properly, curcumin has a tough time getting into the
gut, which is where most of the immune system lives. “80
percent of your immune system is located in your
digestive system, making a healthy gut a major focal
point if you want to maintain optimal health,”
explains Dr. Joseph Mercola.
‘Another way to boost the
absorption of curcumin is to consume it in the whole
food, turmeric root (fresh or dried as a powder) because
natural oils found in turmeric root and turmeric powder
can enhance the bioavailability of curcumin seven to
eight fold. When eaten with fat, curcumin can be
directly absorbed into the bloodstream through the
lymphatic system thereby in part bypassing the liver.’
–Dr. Michael Greiger, MD
3) Heat Increases
Dr. Saraswati Sukumar
explains how to enhance Turmeric’s bioavailability
“The potent ingredient in
turmeric is curcumin, which, despite its power, is not
easily absorbed by the body without assistance. This is
where the sauté pan and a little warm oil come into
play.” Dr. Sukumar explains
“I use it [turmeric] in every sauté, just a quarter
teaspoon, a half teaspoon is enough. But you don’t have
to use it sparingly – use it lavishly.”
“The problem with the pill is
that it is very insoluble in water,” she said. “The
better way to take it, I feel, is to use it in your
cooking very extensively. If you have any sauté, just
sprinkle it in. The moment you heat oil and add turmeric
to it, it now becomes completely bio-available to you.”
SUMMARY: To extract the
optimum benefit when consuming turmeric as a medicine
turmeric with some cooking heat.
turmeric’s absorption 2,000% by combining it with some
freshly ground black pepper.
turmeric’s bioavailability and healing potential by
mixing it with a healthy fat (such as coconut oil or
ghee) some fresh ground black pepper and then gently
cook cycle on medium low heat (never boil). Ghee has
been used as a vehicle for medicine and as a medicine
itself by Ayurvedic doctors for thousands of years.
• Cut root: 1.5 – 3 g per day • Dried, powdered
root: 1 – 3 g per day
Note: If you make the
Turmeric Golden Milk Recipe (above) be sure to put a
teaspoon or so of the paste in a full fat milk of
your choice or add some to a saute with fat to fully
activate the turmeric. And make sure some black pepper
to add black pepper to the paste as you make it.
Note: Do NOT use
flaxseed oil. It’s toxic when heated.
Best oils to use are ghee or coconut oil. To keep it
simple use 1/3 cup of your chosen oil.