Are Turmeric and Curcumin the Same Thing?

Are Turmeric and Curcumin the Same Thing?


Article At-A-Glance:

    • Turmeric and curcumin have exploded in popularity in the natural health world. This is in large part due to their anti-inflammatory and brain-boosting properties.
    • There is some confusion about the difference between turmeric and curcumin. In short, turmeric root is the spice, and curcumin is an active ingredient found within the spice.
    • Turmeric can have remarkable health benefits. This includes relieving joint inflammation, increasing blood flow to the brain, boosting mood and helping protect the brain from age-related cognitive change.
    • Turmeric root is available as a spice; however, turmeric extract supplements may be more beneficial because they contain high amounts of curcumin.


If you’ve been following health trends lately, you’ve no doubt heard people extol the wonder-working powers of turmeric in recent years. Well, in fact turmeric is an amazing spice in terms of what it can do for your body. It is not only a highly potent anti-inflammatory (as strong as pharmaceuticals according to some studies); it can also have major benefits for your brain. One of the main ingredients in turmeric (curcumin) may help increase blood flow to the brain and help protect against cognitive changes due to aging.


Turmeric Vs. Curcumin: What’s the Difference?

If you’re confused about the difference between turmeric and curcumin, let’s clear that up. Turmeric is a yellow spice that has been popular in Indian dishes for centuries. If you like Indian food, it’s likely that you have consumed plenty of turmeric before. In India, turmeric has long been thought to contain medicinal properties, and it turns out that they were right. One of the compounds contained within turmeric is an extremely powerful agent called curcumin. Curcumin can have powerful effects on the body and has been linked to joint pain relief, mood elevation, and a host of brain health benefits.


Benefits of Turmeric/Curcumin

Let’s take a more in-depth look at just a few of the benefits of turmeric. There are others (significant others), but for the sake brevity, let’s review some of the biggest ways that turmeric can help you.


Turmeric Can Help Protect Your Brain As You Age

One of the major advantages of turmeric is how its antioxidant properties benefit the brain. Antioxidants are hugely important because they combat free radical molecules, which damage your brain cells. Free radicals are actually responsible for a lot of age-related cognitive issues. Consuming turmeric/curcumin may actually help protect you from free radicals and a lot of the brain health problems that come with aging.


Turmeric Can Help Increase Blood Flow To the Brain

One of the major health benefits of Turmeric is that it boosts memory and concentration by increasing blood flow to the brain. One study even showed that Turmeric was as effective as exercise in improving blood flow! Higher blood flow to the brain can help optimize cognitive performance and keep you sharp!


Turmeric Could Also Be a Mood-Booster

According to one study, Turmeric performed as well as pharmaceutical treatments in improving mood. Although more trials need to be performed, early results are promising. Another study showed that when Turmeric was taken in combination with pharmaceuticals, it had a greater effect than pharmaceuticals alone. Some researchers believe that turmeric’s mood-boosting benefits come from its ability to stimulate the body’s feel-good chemicals serotonin and dopamine.


Turmeric May Reduce Joint Inflammation

In Western society, joint inflammation is a major recurring issue. With turmeric/curcumin’s anti-inflammatory properties, it only follows that it could benefit people struggling with joint pain issues. One study showed that curcumin was even more effective than anti-inflammatory drugs at helping people with joint inflammation. Other studies showed similar results, noting improvement on various inflammation symptoms.


How exactly do I take Turmeric?

So you might be wondering how you can get enough turmeric in your system to make a difference. Before you go spicing up every single dish, know this: there are different options available for taking turmeric.


First, there’s the turmeric root, which is essentially the yellow powder available at the supermarket. This form of turmeric does contain curcumin; however, the percentage is somewhere between 2-8%. If you’re looking for a major dose of curcumin, this may not be the best option. If you’re trying to find the best turmeric supplement, we recommend looking for a turmeric root extract that contains high percentages of curcumin. These are available often times in capsule form.


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