Turmeric is the top-selling herb in U.S. natural food stores for good reason, and while it is great to add turmeric to your diet, the most reliable way to ensure a daily dose of turmeric is through a dietary supplement.
However, many turmeric products on the market today are concentrated extracts of just one of its active constituents, curcumin, and three problems plague curcumin-only products.
Fortunately, a new approach to turmeric supplements is resolving many of these issues while offering the whole range of the superfood’s naturally occurring compounds to maximize its health benefits.
What is Turmeric?
Turmeric, which gives Indian curry and American mustard their distinctive yellow colors, has been used in Chinese and Indian herbal medicines for thousands of years. Western medicine has increasingly acknowledged its effectiveness in helping to prevent or relieve a wide range of ailments without the noted side effects of many traditional drugs.
Inflammation plays a role in many chronic health issues, from joint aches and pains to serious health problems. Turmeric contains a host of anti-inflammatory compounds, including curcumin, that fight inflammation at the molecular level.
Because of curcumin’s chemical structure and stimulation of the body’s antioxidant enzymes, it can also neutralize harmful free radicals in the body that can damage DNA, proteins, cell membranes, and other organic structures.
In reviewing 700 studies of turmeric, in fact, the ethnobotanist James Duke, PhD. concluded in a 2007 issue of Alternative & Complementary Therapies that turmeric appears to outperform many pharmaceuticals in its effects against several chronic, debilitating diseases with virtually no adverse side effects. Recent research confirms that turmeric extract supports brain health, emotional health, heart health and immune system health, as well as reducing joint and muscle aches and pains. This ancient food, properly extracted and concentrated, is one of the greatest “healthy aging” supplements ever found.
Why full spectrum turmeric is critical
First, turmeric’s activity relies on the whole range of its naturally occurring compounds, not just curcumin. Other beneficial compounds are discarded when curcumin is artificially inflated to make up 95% of a turmeric extract.
Second, some of turmeric’s active components are fat-soluble and some are water-soluble. Yet most products focus solely on the fat-soluble components and neglect the water-soluble ones.
Third, to make matters worse, curcumin is very poorly absorbed by the human body. Some people compensate with massive doses in hopes of absorbing a little, but that approach is imprecise and can cause stomach upset.
Many methods have been used to improve curcumin bioavailability. However, they often use a high proportion of fillers – typically 70 to 90 percent – and thus contain low levels of actual curcumin and even lower levels of other beneficial constituents.
To resolve these issues, supplement manufacturers are now releasing turmeric extract products that contain curcumin plus the full spectrum of turmeric’s naturally occurring compounds.
While adding turmeric to one’s diet will only become more popular as its health promoting attributes become more widely recognized, those selecting supplements with the full spectrum of the superfood’s naturally occurring compounds may enjoy the most complete benefits.
Peter Finkle is Chief Operating Officer at Yerba Prima. Yerba has created Super Turmeric which features Super Turmeric extract. Developed by two doctors, Super Turmeric combines a fat-soluble extract with a water-soluble extract, so it delivers all the beneficial components of turmeric. This results in rapid absorption through the gut, for immediate relief, plus 24-hour activity in the bloodstream for round-the-clock support.