As you may know, I LOVE turmeric. But seriously… this golden spice has truly captured my heart for the long haul…
I’ve been digging more into the subject, and realise that it’s important to understand the difference between turmeric and curcumin and to build more awareness around how to get the most benefit from it.
Recently I met Sophie (above left), who has started her own natural curcumin supplement brand called Your Bodhi. She’s gone on her own interesting health journey and has experienced the healing power of turmeric and curcumin.
I was pretty excited to meet her, being a turmeric-lover myself. It has been so cool to connect and chat about all things health AND all things turmeric and curcumin.
And so, I thought I’d share a post asking Sophie a few questions on the subject. If you appreciate the golden spice, you’ll find much value in this post.
Happy reading all you spice-lovers!
What is the difference between turmeric and curcumin?
“Turmeric is made up of bioactive compounds, collectively known as curcuminoids. Curcumin is the primary curcuminoid and the most active ingredient in turmeric. Many studies have shown that it is the curcumin that is responsible for many of the health benefits associated with turmeric.”Sophie
I’ve loved turmeric for a long time, and I never used to even consider there being a difference between it and curcumin. Especially when living in Italy, Turmeric is called ‘Curcuma’. So for a while, I just assumed they were the same thing.
So it’s essential to understand this – because turmeric and curcumin are not the same thing. While turmeric is an amazing spice associated with healing benefits, it’s the curcuminoids inside it, like curcumin, that pack most of the punch.
What are some of the health benefits of turmeric/curcumin?
“Research has shown that turmeric has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Reducing inflammation in the body can help alleviate symptoms of a huge range of things including joint pain and arthritis, skin conditions such as eczema, gut conditions such as IBD and can even help those with depression and anxiety.
Turmeric and curcumin can also support a healthy immune system which we all know is so important at the moment.”Sophie
That’s one of the most important things I learnt when studying health coaching – that inflammation is the primary cause of most disease. Whether it’s inflammation of the brain or the gut, it can happen anywhere in the body.
It’s incredible how food truly is medicine for the body. And a spice like turmeric, containing anti-inflammatory agents like curcumin, can support your body in its healing process.
Turmeric is generally considered an Indian spice. Do you know some of the ways it is traditionally used in India?
“The turmeric root has been used in Indian cuisine and traditional Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years. People often make turmeric paste to help heal wounds, or even apply it on the skin to reduce spots and acne.”Sophie
India is still, to this day, my favourite place on earth. And here, turmeric, otherwise known as Haldi or the golden spice, is a favourite.
Apart from being used in Indian cooking, particularly curries, it’s also used in Ayurveda – a traditional system of medicine originating from ancient India. Turmeric is one of the most commonly used Ayurvedic spices because of its healing properties. It has been associated with the treatment for various conditions – like liver disorders, relieving gas, improving digestion, regulating menstruation, respiratory conditions, and even relieving arthritis.
Turmeric is sometimes added to soups to help mothers strengthen bones post childbearing. It is sometimes sprinkled on minor wounds to disinfect and promote healing, or used as a paste to treat burns. Turmeric powder is also sometimes mixed with milk and honey and used to ease sore throats and coughs.
So it is used in various ways – in cooking, as a supplement, and even as a topical application.
How has turmeric/curcumin helped you on your health journey?
“Discovering turmeric has really helped me to control and manage my Ulcerative Colitis, which is a form of IBD. I struggled for years with horrible flare-ups (everything from bleeding to bloating and urgency to go to the toilet) and since I have started taking curcumin, my flares are under control. I have also changed part of my diet, and the combination of this and the curcumin has been life-changing for me.”Sophie
In case you don’t know, IBD refers to Inflammatory Bowel Disease.
While I haven’t had something serious like this, I used to have IBS – Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Something many people suffer from. And there was one year where it got so bad, with terrible cramps and bloating, to the point of not being able to get out of bed and walk.
I was going to regular doctors and no one could help me with this so-called IBS. But then I went to an Indian doctor, Davesh Patel, who turned it all around. And it wasn’t through western medicine, but instead, he got me to cut out certain foods that were likely irritating my gut. This got me thinking about my gut health, and how food truly is medicine.
Then, shortly after, I went on a trip to India and I was nervous I’d have flare-ups and get the so-called Delhi belly while there. But, to my surprise, after a month in India, my stomach had never felt so good! No cramps and no bloating. It was flatter than it had ever been! And while it could have been a mix of things, I do feel that the spicy curries I was eating for breakfast, lunch and dinner must’ve had something to do with it!
Ever since I’ve incorporated much more spices – including turmeric – into my cooking and never looked back!
It is incredible to learn that when turmeric is combined with black pepper it becomes MUCH more powerful…
“It is essential to take black pepper (also called piperine) alongside turmeric and curcumin to increase absorption. This is because piperine makes it easier for curcumin to pass through the intestinal wall and into your bloodstream and may also slow down the breakdown of curcumin by the liver, increasing its blood levels.”Sophie
I remember discovering the power of food-combining and it blew my mind!
Especially the turmeric and pepper combination – because by simply adding a little pepper you can make turmeric up to 2000% more absorbable – That is incredible!
Because turmeric is a fat-soluble spice, there are also some studies that suggest that the curcumin is absorbed easier if added to or taken with fats like ghee butter or coconut oil.
In my morning turmeric drink, along with a sprinkle of pepper, I also started adding a teaspoon of coconut oil. It turned into quite a potent medicinal drink I encourage you to try!
Morning Turmeric Drink Ingredients: Mug of hot water, the juice of half a fresh lemon, a teaspoon of turmeric powder, a sprinkle of black pepper, and a teaspoon of coconut oil
I encourage you to learn more about food combining, as it enables you to get the most out of your food. There are different types of food combining, one of them is called Synergistic Food Combining – how nutrients interact to amplify their combined health benefits. Turmeric and pepper is one of them. Another example is the combination of Broccoli and Tomatoes. And yet another example is the combination of Lemon Juice and Green Tea.
Is turmeric powder less potent than getting an actual turmeric root?
“Fresh and powdered turmeric are different versions of the same rhizome. The fresh root does have a few benefits such as the oils it contains, however it is a lot harder to work with and consume.”Sophie
This is something I think about often. Turmeric powder is much easier to get, so it’s what I usually buy.
As I often say, the more natural the better. So it’s not surprising to learn that raw turmeric may retain more curcumin and natural oils. Raw turmeric is also free from artificial colouring agents or other adulterants that some powder brands use.
That said, there isn’t a huge difference between the root and the powder in terms of curcumin. And so, if you can’t get the root, don’t stress. I stick to the powder and love it for its convenience.
And is there much difference between the quality of different spice brands in regular supermarkets? If so, how can you tell?
“There is a definite difference between the quality of spices. For example, some turmeric brands can contain colouring to make it brighter, but that means there are additives.”Sophie
I used to just assume all spices were of similar quality in supermarkets. But a little while back, we got a different Cinnamon brand and it was SO much more fragrant. This got me thinking and about my spices…
And when it came turmeric, I wanted to know how I could figure out the difference between different brand’s quality (as they usually don’t share anything on their labels). I found this article with a few ways you can check the quality of your turmeric powder.
My favourite one is the simple water test: This is one of the easiest ways to look out for adulteration in your turmeric powder. Add some warm water to a glass and drop a teaspoon of turmeric on the surface. Do not stir or mix it. Leave it for about 20 minutes and then check again. If the sediments settle down at the bottom of the glass and clear water stays above, your turmeric powder is pure. But if the water turns cloudy, it is possibly adulterated.
Although this only gives you a basic idea, it’s a fun experiment to try at home!
What are some spice combinations or meals that work well with turmeric?
“Turmeric is a staple in so many Indian meals. One dish that comes to mind is Kitchari – known as the Indian chicken soup – is one of the staple healing foods in Ayurveda. It is a great healthy and hearty meal. Find our recipe hereSophie
Turmeric is a traditional spice of India, so it naturally goes so well in curries.
Turmeric works beautifully in stews. I like to mix up a few spices together – like turmeric, paprika, cumin, pepper – Yum!
Turmeric goes well with grains. Adding some turmeric and black pepper to your rice, quinoa or couscous is a tasty way to spice them up and add some colour.
Turmeric works nicely with roasted veggies. You can add some turmeric powder to your veggies before roasting them – like potatoes, cauliflower, carrots or sweet potatoes.
Turmeric also goes so well with eggs. I lightly fry the eggs and right at the beginning I sprinkle turmeric and black pepper over the top and serve on rye toast. So tasty.
What are some other simple ways you can use turmeric?
“Moon milk is a great one, it can be really soothing – you can see our moon milk recipe here!Sophie
Turmeric is lovely as a drink.
Of course, I have my potent morning drink – turmeric powder, black pepper, lemon juice, coconut oil and hot water.
But, if you want something more soothing you should try Your Bodhi’s Moon Milk Recipe above.
It’s similar to the traditional Golden Milk. You can get a readymade Golden Milk mix from health stores, which you simply add to warm milk (any milk of your choice). Or, you could make your own mix using typical ingredients like turmeric, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamom and pepper – This is a fantastic tasty warming and highly nutritious beverage!
I’ve been thinking about experimenting with a homemade turmeric face mask… just considering what colour my face will be afterwards haha 🙂
And now recently, I’ve started exploring the world of natural curcumin supplements…
When it comes to turmeric and curcumin supplements, how do you know if you should take one, and how do you know how much to take?
“It’s really important to listen to your body – What are you feeling? Do you have certain pains or issues? Is this an issue related to inflammation?Sophie
Then, it’s important to do your research. Turmeric and curcumin are natural supplements so they are safe to take for most people. But you should always follow the recommended doses. With Your Bodhi curcumin the recommended dose is 1 – 2 capsules daily.”
It’s tough to know if you need a supplement. Particularly if you are generally healthy, and just want a boost. This is where you need to do your own research and trust your own body and intuition.
As Sophie says, turmeric and curcumin is safe for most people as it’s a natural supplement. So it’s not like taking harsh western medicine. That said, do your research so you have a good idea of what benefits it offers in relation to what your needs are. Then, get clear on the dose, so that you know you’re taking an adequate amount – not too little resulting in little to no effect, and not too much that your body just flushes the excess out.
What are some of the things to look out for when buying turmeric/curcumin supplements?
“You should check the amount of curcumin per capsule – some brands make this confusing by giving you the amounts ‘per serving’ but that could be 2 or 3 capsules. So read the information carefully.Sophie
Make sure you choose a brand with a high amount of curcumin. Your Bodhi includes 495mg per capsule which is much higher than many brands on the market (it can start at just 20mg per capsule).
Also make sure it has black pepper extract!”
I know through my own experience that choosing supplements can be overwhelming. So this is useful.
If you’re looking for a curcumin supplement, make sure you look at: The amount of curcumin per capsule, so that you’re getting a decent dose. And make sure it contains black pepper extract, which is a must.
Having gone on your own health journey and discovering turmeric/curcumin along the way, what is one message you’d love to leave for our audience today?
“Turmeric really is a wonder spice! It has helped me so much and I really believe in it. There was a point when I didn’t see an end to my symptoms and I am so glad I tried turmeric. I hope this gives hope to others in similar circumstances.”Sophie
In closing, it has been so awesome catching up with Sophie and talking about turmeric and curcumin. It’s such a simple and yet powerful natural ingredient. It certainly deserves its name of The Golden Spice!
Apart from loving the taste of turmeric in my food, its anti-inflammatory properties are what impress me the most. And in my own life, I try to add in natural anti-inflammatory foods into my diet as much as possible. Because that is an amazing way to support your body and stay healthy.
Ready to add more turmeric and curcumin to your life?
I hope that this article has inspired you to add more turmeric and curcumin to your life. Be it to your food, in a warm drink, or through natural supplements.
And, if you’d like to, you can also check out Your Bodhi’s Curcumin Supplement. It’s all-natural, contains pepper extract, and has a quality high dose of curcumin in each capsule.
You also get a 10% discount off your purchase with the promo code LIVETHEWONDERFUL
I hope you enjoyed this article.
Keep shining and spicing