Turmeric is a part of the traditional Indian medicine and has been used for ages to cure many diseases. It’s a rhizome that comes from the plant Curcuma Longa, a part of the ginger family. Its active compound is curcumin, one of the three known curcuminoids present in the rhizome.
The other two curcuminoids are desmethoxycurcumin and bis-desmethoxycurcumin. Curcumin has strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity and is used to treat some serious health conditions such as chronic inflammation, chronic pain, and cancer.
However, before you start consuming turmeric as powerful food medicine, you should learn how to unleash its potent healing potential first.
The main problem with turmeric is curcumin’s poor bioavailability. Many animal and clinical studies have found that the concentrations of curcumin in the blood plasma, peripheral tissues, and the urine, are quite low regardless of the dosage.
What is bioavailability?
Bioavailability refers to the extent of and rate at which the active moiety (drug or metabolite) enters systemic circulation, thereby accessing the site of action.Bioavailability describes how much of the ingested substance is absorbed by the body. Needless to say, those with low bioavailability will not be efficient enough for healing purposes.
Research confirms turmeric’s low bioavailability
- A 1978 study done by by Whalstrom and Blennow has shown that when taken orally, curcumin was poorly absorbed in the gut.
- A 1980 study by Ravindranath el al found that when rats were orally given 400 mg of curcumin, no trace of it was found in the heart blood.
- A recent study by Yang et al found that when 10mg/kg of curcumin was administered orally, only 0.36 µg/ml of it was found in the blood serum.
- A study Absorption and tissue distribution of curcumin in rats. -Ravindranath et al found after oral administration of 400 mg of curcumin to rats: “only traces of the unchanged molecule were found in the liver and kidney. At 30 min, 90 percent of the curcumin was found in the stomach and small intestine, but only 1 percent was present at 24 h.
- Studies done by Whalstrom and Blennow has shown curcumin`s rapid systemic extraction from the body. The bottom line is that turmeric indeed has a short half-life.
3 ways to boost the benefits of curcumin
1.Add black pepper to your diet
It has been scientifically shown that black pepper works as powerful turmeric adjuvant. Some of the key health benefits of black pepper are as follows:
- Relieves vertigo
- Treats cognitive malfunction and memory impairment
- Reduces the risk of liver/cardiovascular issues and cancer
- Alleviates the symptoms of asthma, nasal congestion, and sinusitis.
- Aids in the treatment of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
The power of black pepper:
Piperine is a potent inhibitor of drug metabolism. One of the ways our liver gets rid of foreign substances is making them water-soluble so they can be more easily excreted. But this black pepper molecule inhibits that process.
How much black pepper should you use?
If people are given a bunch of turmeric curcumin, within an hour there’s a little bump in the level in their bloodstream. There isn’t a large increase because the liver is actively trying to get rid of it. But what if the process is suppressed by taking just a quarter teaspoon’s worth of black pepper?
Then you see curcumin levels skyrocket. The same amount of curcumin consumed, but the bioavailability shoots up 2000 percent. In fact, even just a little pinch of pepper (1/20th of a teaspoon) can significantly boost levels.
2.Add a healthy fat to turmeric
Turmeric is fat-soluble, meaning you should use it with healthy fats to get the most of it.
When it doesn’t dissolve properly, curcumin has a tough time getting into the gut, which is where most of the immune system lives. 80 percent of your immune system is located in your digestive system, making a healthy gut a major focal point if you want to maintain optimal health.
Another way to boost the absorption of curcumin is to consume it in the whole food, turmeric root (fresh or dried as a powder) because natural oils found in turmeric root and turmeric powder can enhance the bioavailability of curcumin seven to eight fold.
When eaten with fat, curcumin can be directly absorbed into the bloodstream through the lymphatic system thereby in part bypassing the liver.
3.Heat increases curcumin’s bioavailability
The potent ingredient in turmeric is curcumin, which, despite its power, is not easily absorbed by the body without assistance. This is where the sauté pan and a little warm oil come into play.
The problem about the pill is that it is extremely insoluble in water. The more efficient way to use it is to add it to your cooking more often. Whenever you have any sauté, simply sprinkle it in to make it bio-available to you.
Summary: To extract the optimum benefit when consuming turmeric as a medicine:
- Increase turmeric’s bioavailability by up to 2,000 times by mixing it with freshly ground black pepper
- Boost turmeric’s absorption and healing properties by combining it with healthy fats like ghee or coconut oil
- Activate turmeric by using heat