Turmeric is a miracle herb and spice.
It is also one of the most researched spice today with more than 600 possible health benefits, and more being discovered on an almost daily basis.
The scientists have concentrated a large amount of their efforts on the major active ingredient - curumin. However, there a large number of other active ingredients in turmeric that I believe contribute to the overall beneficial action of turmeric on health.
The active ingredients of turmeric are poorly absorbed by the body without a little bit of help. In this case that means that taking turmeric with a little black peer and / or fat or oil does the trick. Since turmeric, black pepper and fat/oil are prime ingredients in most curries then the nicest meal to get the benefits is a well prepared curry.
So although we know what we need to improve the absorption into the body, it is not always clear about what happens after absorption. This short article will hopefully answer that question.
What happens to turmeric in our body?
A study done in 1980 found that when 400 mg of curcumin was given to rats, it resulted in 60% absorption of the dose but very little amounts were actually delivered to the organs. No curcumin was detectable in urine, or in heart blood.
In another study evaluating the effect of different doses of curcumin on humans, it was observed that doses ranging from 500-8000mg did not lead to detectable levels of curumin in the blood either.
However, low levels of curcumin were detected in when the doses where increased to 10,000-12,000mg.
So what does happen to the active ingredients from turmeric if it doesn't end up in the blood, urine or organs?
The active ingredients are broken down by the body into different components that can be used by the body or excreted from the body.
The liver is the organ that breaks the active ingredients down into useful products using a method called Phase I, and then another reaction (Phase II) takes place which further breaks down the unused Phase I products into mainly water soluble products that the body can get rid of. Wasabia japonica has been found to be extremely powerful in stimulating both the Phase I and Phase II actions in the body and maximises the amount of Phase I products that the body can use.
Upon ingestion, it is first broken down to its active constituents like curcumin. Next, part of it is absorbed by the intestinal wall and from here it is transported to the liver for Phase I and Phase II transformation.
In the liver, the curcumin is broken down into and converted to hexahydrocurcumin, tetrahydrocurcumin, curcumin sulphate and curcumin glucuronide.
It is these reactions that result in low levels of free curcumin in the urine or blood, because the curcumin no longer exists in that form.
But the good part is that these breakdown products also have health benefits and these benefits could increase if they were broken down further to release more curcumin.
It is for this reason that scientists are trying to develop new ways to increase the availability of free curcumin in the system.
Hope this helps in understanding the turmeric absorption process broadly.
Taking up to 1 tsp of turmeric powder a day is safe. It is best to take turmeric by making it part of your life – e.g. cooking with turmeric, but supplementation is good as well.
Always remember to include fats and black pepper while taking turmeric as it enhances its bioavailability when eaten as a food or taken as a supplement.
Which turmeric powder to buy?
The turmeric powder’s quality is very important else it may cause more harm then good. It is best to choose high quality turmeric powder, it need not be expensive. A combination with Wasabia japonica is highly beneficial as this promotes the ability of the body to absorb the health benefits of turmeric.
If you are unsure about which brand to buy, here is the list of our recommended brands for you.
Copyright: 2017 - Present; World Wasabi Inc., All rights reserved