Curcumin: What You Need to Know

Curcumin: What You Need to Know

If you search for “curcumin and health” in PubMed (an international journal database), you get about a thousand scientific papers. That’s how much curcumin has been studied. However, like many nutrients, there are many forms and brands to take and it can be difficult figuring out which is best for you. Let’s talk about that.


What is curcumin?

Curcumin is one of three curcumonoids, which are compounds found in turmeric. (Ever wonder why your Indian curry is bright yellow or orange? Curcumin is why.) The other two curcuminoids are demethoxycurcumin and bisdemethoxycurcumin, but you don’t need to know about those. We care about curcumin because it’s the one used most often in dietary supplements.

How do curcuminoids work in your body?

Several studies have demonstrated that curcumin does great things in our bodies. It’s an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, immunomodulator, microbe-fighter, cancer-fighter, liver protector, kidney protector, and anti-rheumatic.

The challenge with curcumin is that it’s a polyphenol. Like most polyphenols, curcumin has a hard time getting absorbed into your bloodstream, so it gets broken down by your digestion before it crosses the intestinal wall. For this reason curcumin needs a “vehicle” to travel in to increase the chances of the chemical getting into your blood (otherwise known as “bioavailability”).

The two main “vehicles” manufacturers use to increase curcumin’s bioavailability are are piperine (black pepper) and fats (phospholipids) like lecithin. (This is why, in Indian dishes, turmeric is mixed with fat. Try to mix it with water; it doesn’t work.) Both piperine and phospholipids like lecithin significantly increase the amount of curcumin that gets into your bloodstream (Liu et al., 2006). Lecithin increases it by a factor of 29 (Cuomo et al., 2011).

My Take on Curcumin?

I take about 1000 mg of curcumin a day in a complex formula to lower my risk of dying too soon and increase the likelihood of living optimally functional.

Let me be more specific. The reason why I take curcumnoids (term explained below) is because curcumin is backed by tons of scientific research. Curcumin has been found to have protective benefits against cancer, alzheimer's and potentially heart disease. Of all the nutrients I believe it’s important to take, curcumin is in my top 10.

In my opinion, C3 Curcumin Complex (sold by Sabinsa) is the best choice for maximal cellular protection, and that is the brand that we used in ImmunoPCTN. It uses lecithin to increase bioavailability—i.e., to get as much curcumin in your blood as possible. 


Other Brands of Curcumin?

There are 5 different brands in the market that I know about:
1. Meriva, produced by the ingredient supplier Indena.
2. BCM 95 is produced by DolCas Biotech LLC and uses oils for absorbability.
3. Theracurcumin is a product of Natural Factors and uses gum ghatti to increase bioavailability.
4. Longvida, a product of Verdure Sciences®, uses SLCP™ (Solid Lipid Curcumin Particle Technology).
5. C3 Curcumin Complex, the brand I recommend.

There is currently a ‘war’ on which form of curcumin is best. Without a head-to-head trial where all forms, or any combination, are compared in a clinical trial, it is impossible to say which curcumin is best. We use C3 Curcumin Complex in ImmunoPCTN because of its plethora of science to support its use to reduce inflammation and keep us well. (See

What should you do?

My preference and thus recommendation is that you take C3 Curcumin Complex. To be clear: I am not making a claim that curcumin cures or treats any disease. I am saying that there is a preponderance of research supporting its use to reduce inflammation, enhance detoxification and protect cells from oxidative stress.


Pulido-Moran, M., Moreno-Fernandez, J., Ramirez-Tortosa, C., & Ramirez-Tortosa, M. (2016). Curcumin and health. Molecules, 21(3), 264.
Cuomo, J., Appendino, G., Dern, A. S., Schneider, E., McKinnon, T. P., Brown, M. J., ... & Dixon, B. M. (2011). Comparative absorption of a standardized curcuminoid mixture and its lecithin formulation. Journal of natural products, 74(4), 664-669.  

Liu, A., Lou, H., Zhao, L., & Fan, P. (2006). Validated LC/MS/MS assay for curcumin and tetrahydrocurcumin in rat plasma and application to pharmacokinetic study of phospholipid complex of curcumin. Journal of pharmaceutical and biomedical analysis, 40(3), 720-727.

Suresh, D., & Srinivasan, K. (2007). Studies on the in vitro absorption of spice principles–curcumin, capsaicin and piperine in rat intestines. Food and chemical toxicology, 45(8), 1437-1442.

Ryu, E. K., Choe, Y. S., Lee, K. H., Choi, Y., & Kim, B. T. (2006). Curcumin and dehydrozingerone derivatives: synthesis, radiolabeling, and evaluation for β-amyloid plaque imaging. Journal of medicinal chemistry, 49(20), 6111-6119. 

Cuomo, J., Appendino, G., Dern, A. S., Schneider, E., McKinnon, T. P., Brown, M. J., ... & Dixon, B. M. (2011). Comparative absorption of a standardized curcuminoid mixture and its lecithin formulation. Journal of natural products, 74(4), 664-669. 

Ma, Z., Shayeganpour, A., Brocks, D. R., Lavasanifar, A., & Samuel, J. (2007). High‐performance liquid chromatography analysis of curcumin in rat plasma: application to pharmacokinetics of polymeric micellar formulation of curcumin. Biomedical Chromatography, 21(5), 546-552.