Instant Expert: Curcumin

Lucy E Cousins
June 16, 2016

It seems that everybody these days is talking about the health benefits of a range of ‘spice superstars’ and at the top of that long list is curcumin.

As it turns out, this quiet little achiever has some pretty impressive properties that can help us manage our health incredibly effectively.

We asked Swisse nutritionist Sherree Banh for some advice on why curcumin is so good for you.


What exactly is curcumin?

Curcumin is the main active component found in the spice turmeric which gives it the vibrant yellow colour. In India, the turmeric plant has been used for centuries in cooking (hello curry). Plus, the powder also has a special relationship with spiritualism thanks to its use in dying saris and monks’ robes.


Why is it so good for you?

Curcumin has a huge range of body benefits. Peer reviewed journal articles show the powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of the 4000 year old yellow spice. Hot stuff!

Most interestingly, a 2013 clinical trial on curcumin published in the Inflammopharmacology yielded positive outcomes for the relief of mild osteoarthritis symptoms like joint pain, joint inflammation and reduced mobility6. Good news for your athletic brother and elderly aunt, alike.


What’s the best way to cook with it?

Turmeric, where curcumin is an active compound, is often added to Asian soups and curries for an earthy, deep flavour. You can also try adding turmeric, fresh lemon and ginger to your tea to create an immune-boosting tonic. Handy.


Can I take curcumin as a supplement?

Yes, and it may be a more effective way to ingest it. A review article published by Gupta et al (2013) in the AAPS Journal indicated that the quantity of curcumin (in turmeric) used in cooking isn’t enough to fully reap its health benefits and that our bodies have a low-absorption rate for turmeric.

While there are some natural ways of boosting our curcumin intake, like eating it with black pepper, good-quality natural supplements will automatically include ingredients that aid our body’s absorption rates. 

A 2014 study published by Jager et al. in the Nutrition Journal confirmed that one of the most effective ways of doing this is by using an enhanced form of curcumin, called CurcuWIN, which increases that absorption rate by 46 times that of a standardised turmeric extract.



Can you eat too much curcumin?

According to Swisse nutritionist Sherree Banh, there isn’t much of a concern with consuming too much turmeric if you’re just adding it to your cooked meals and teas.

If you decide to get your curcumin intake through supplementation, stick to the recommended amount on the label and it’s always a good idea to speak to your Primary Healthcare Professional for more advice. Banh also recommends choosing a form of curcumin that is highly bioavailable and naturally derived.