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Perhaps you don’t know curcumin by name. Still, you’d certainly recognise it on sight – curcumin is the pigment which gives turmeric its bright yellow colour.1 Curcumin is responsible for turmeric’s reputation as a healing food in Ayurveda, India’s ancient holistic tradition.Modern science has proven turmeric’s association with health and wellness is justified by demonstrating that curcumin’s anti-inflammatory effects.3 However, turmeric itself is only 3% curcumin, which means it’s near impossible to get curcumin’s benefits by adding turmeric to meals.4 Many people choose instead to take curcumin as a supplement.

Here, we’ll investigate curcumin’s different health benefits and look at any potential side effects. We’ll explain how to get more in your life, including how curcumin supplements work.

Different health benefits of curcumin

Like other bright natural foods, curcumin is rich in phytochemicals and phytonutrients.5

These are curcumin’s supposed health benefits:

  • Anti-inflammatory. Inflammation is linked to a variety of ills, including various types disease6 and curcumin is such an effective anti-inflammatory.

  • Antioxidant effects. Oxidative stress, a natural process exacerbated by smoking and pollution (among other things), is strongly linked to ageing and age-related diseases.7 Not only does curcumin contain antioxidants which help fight oxidative stress8, but it also helps the body produce antioxidants.9

  • Mood support. Curcumin can support your mood and reduce stress.

  • Improves cognition. Curcumin encourages growth and plasticity of genes in the brain, It’s linked to better cognitive function.10

Potential side effects of curcumin

Most people can take curcumin supplements without any problems. However, some people may experience adverse side effects, including:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhoea
  • Headache
  • Yellow stool11
  • Acid reflux
  • Indigestion
People with liver complaints shouldn’t take curcumin without consulting their doctor, as curcumin increases bile secretion.12

How to include more curcumin in your diet

Scientists have shown that cooking turmeric with oil encourages curcumin absorption.13 It’s easy enough to add a spoon of olive or coconut oil to a curry, or rice dish, prepared with turmeric, and doing so helps the body better process curcumin.

Taking curcumin

With so many different benefits of curcumin, taking a curcumin supplement is a fantastic way to enjoy this pigment’s health benefits. Most supplements include black pepper, as the blood can’t effectively absorb curcumin without it. Black pepper increases the blood’s efficacy at absorbing curcumin by 3000%!14

Last updated: 13 October 2020