Lets Talk about Turmeric and Curcumin

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Curcumin is a hot topic these days and for good reason. It has many wonderful anti-inflammatory effects.  It has been a huge success in my practice for people who experience arthritic pain.  My clients report less pain to no arthritic pain.   However, I would just like to clear up some confusion on this wonderful kitchen spice.  Often times the word Curcumin is used interchangeably with Turmeric when talking about therapeutic effects.  While it’s true that Curcumin comes from Turmeric, you are more likely to experience the therapeutic effects of Curcumin than Turmeric.  Turmeric is the plant that provides Curcumin.  “a typical turmeric rhizome (root) is about 2-5% curcumin, so taking an unstandardized powdered turmeric root product means that you would need to take hundreds of capsules to get a clinically studied amount of curcumin” This means taking the yellow powdery spice in your kitchen pantry will not have the same effects as the amounts that are available in capsule form.  You would have to eat a lot of turmeric every day to get therapeutic effects.  Once again, not all things are created equal. When shopping for a curcumin product to help with arthritic pain it is important to look for an additional component added into the Curcumin and that is Piperine.  Piperine is an alkaloid that is found in black pepper. What this compound does is increases absorption of the Curcumin throughout the body by 2000%.  Yes, that is not a typo, 2000%.  Taking a straight curcumin product is really beneficial for those with inflammatory bowel diseases because without the piperine it stays localized in the gutt and focuses the majority of inflammatory effects there. 

Curcumin has many wonderful benefits in addition to alleviating arthritic pain and reducing inflammation related to inflammatory bowel disease.  Because it’s effects are related to reducing inflammation, it is also beneficial in treating asthma, has anti-cancer properties, reduces risk of cardiovascular disease, controls inflammation related to diabetes, helps in hepatitis and liver inflammation, anti-inflammatory effects in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s and Multiple Sclerosis.  It also reduces skin inflammation such as in psoriasis. 

Let’s talk about dosage.  When looking for a product, anti-inflammatory effects come at dosages between 500-1500 mg per day.  Remember, if you want to get the most effect from curcumin for all anti-inflammatory conditions take it with the compound Piperine.  For those with Inflammatory Bowel Disease the most benefit will come from a product with no Piperine. 

Recipe for Turmeric Milk

4 cups Milk of Choice (Almond Milk)

2 inches of fresh Turmeric Root – sliced

2 inches of ginger – sliced

1-2 cinnamon sticks

8 peppercorns

4 cardamom pods

1 tea bag - black tea or chi

Bring milk to a boil and add in other ingredients - steep for about half an hour