Turmeric – The Spice of Life
The plant Curcuma longa is a low-growing perennial with sword-shaped leaves and yellow flowers. But there is more to this plant than meets the eye. Underground the plant has horizontally growing stems called rhizomes. These rhizomes can be cultivated, dried and ground into the golden spice we know as turmeric.
The idea of turmeric supplements is nothing new. The therapeutic use of turmeric goes back over 5,000 years to the height of Ayurveda. In Sanskrit, Ayurveda translates to ‘the science of life’ and is a system of wellness practices that balance the body and mind for optimal health and longevity. Turmeric also has a long history of use in Traditional Chinese Medicine.
The therapeutic use of turmeric goes back over 5,000 years to the height of Ayurveda
These traditional health systems believe turmeric has special properties that restore balance to the body. As such, it has been traditionally used for a wide variety of conditions. These systems employ practices of consuming turmeric as a whole herb or extract, as tea and even applying it topically to the skin. Turmeric is also consumed regularly in many cultures as a culinary spice that gives dishes a distinct, earthy flavor. In Bali, this treasured herb is used to prepare yellow rice which is used as an offering to the Hindu deities.
If I already eat foods seasoned with turmeric, like curry, would I not get any additional benefits from taking a turmeric supplement?
While we agree supplements cannot replace getting nutrients from a healthy and varied diet, they can help to fill nutritional gaps and ensure you are getting the optimal amount of certain nutrients. If you are relying on the use of turmeric as a culinary spice alone, you may not be getting as much of the golden spice as you think. Ask yourself how often you are actually using turmeric in your cooking. If the answer is “not every day,” then you would likely benefit from adding a turmeric supplement to your daily routine. A little bit goes a long way in your favorite dish. Even if you are regularly using turmeric to spice up your meals, it may not be enough to provide consistent benefits. Taking a turmeric supplement ensures you are consistently getting the optimal dose of turmeric for its beneficial properties.*
Are Turmeric and ginger are the same thing?
Turmeric and ginger are two distinct but related botanicals belonging to the family Zingiberacaea. Both of these plants grow rhizomes, which are stems that grow horizontally underground. The spices turmeric and ginger are both derived from the rhizomes of their respective plant species. Even though they are related, turmeric and ginger have different nutritional properties that make them unique. Turmeric is most noted for containing curcumin, a plant-based antioxidant.* Ginger does not contain any curcumin, but has its own beneficial phytonutrients such as gingerols and zingiberene that contribute to its benefits for helping with occasional nausea, dizziness, and motion sickness.*
When is the best time to take turmeric supplements?
Turmeric supplements can be taken any time of day. Your total daily dose may be split throughout the day or you can take it all at once. For best results, we suggest taking turmeric supplements with a meal. The active component within turmeric, curcumin, is fat-soluble, which means it is better absorbed if taken with a fat-containing meal.
Are curcumin and turmeric the same thing?
Not exactly. Turmeric and curcumin are not the same thing, but they are related. Turmeric refers to the spice derived from the underground stems of the Curcuma longa plant. Turmeric is made up of many different components such as starches, proteins, fat, fiber, minerals, and phytonutrients.2 Curcumin is one of the beneficial plant-based compounds collectively called “curcuminoids” found within turmeric.2 Curcumin only makes up a small percentage of all turmeric.
What is the difference between curcumin and cumin?
They may sound as if they are similar, but curcumin and cumin are two very different things. Curcumin is a special plant-based nutrient found within turmeric. It is what gives turmeric its golden color and its antioxidant properties.* Cumin is a spice that is made from the seeds of the Cuminum cyminum plant, a member of the parsley family. Despite their similarities in name, cumin and curcumin are not related.