Diferuloylmethane or curcumin is one of the three curcuminoids in turmeric with the other two being desmethoxycurcumin and bis-desmethoxycurcumin. Scientists are also working on the other compounds found in the essential oils.
It may be the strongest thing on planet Earth, but curcumin has a low bioavailability. Studies have found that curcumin is only found in traces in your blood plasma, peripheral tissues, and urine, despite the high concentrations used in the studies.
The Merck manual explains that “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.”
Scientific proof – Turmeric has low bioavailability
- When administered orally, curcumin if found in small amounts in blood serum because the body metabolizes it before it manages to enter the bloodstream
- The preparation and administration affect the bioavailability of turmeric
- Add certain adjuvants to boost its bioavailability
- In 1978, Whalstron and Blennow did a study according to which curcumin is poorly absorbed in the intestines when taken orally
- Another 1980 study conducted by Ravindranath el al confirmed that there wasn’t a single trace of curcumin in rats given 400mg of curcumin
- Yang et al found that by using 10mg/kg of curcumin orally, only 36 µg/mlend up in the bloodstream
- Absorption and tissue distribution of curcumin in rats is a study that showed a shocking fact. Ravindranath et al found that the oral application of curcumin (400mg) in rats showed that “only traces of the unchanged molecule were found in the liver and kidney. At 30 min, 90% of the curcumin was found in the stomach and small intestine, but only 1% was present at 24 h. [hours].”
- Whalstrom and Blennow also showed that curcumin is almost instantly eliminated from the body
3 ways to boost the power of turmeric
- Combine it with black pepper
Black pepper is the best turmeric adjuvant.
Here are some of the benefits provided by black pepper:
- 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,” explains Michael Greger, a popular physician.
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 blood stream.
We don’t see a large increase because our 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%.
Even just a little pinch of pepper—1/20th of a teaspoon—can significantly boost levels. And guess what a common ingredient in curry powder is besides turmeric? Black pepper,” explains Dr. Greger.
- Combine it with healthy fat
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,” explains Dr. Joseph Mercola.
‘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,’ adds Dr. Michael Greiger.
- Heat boosts the bioavailability of turmeric
“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,” explained Dr. Sukumar.
Turmeric pills are insoluble in water, and the most efficient way is to add turmeric to our food. So, next time you sauté anything, just add a dash of turmeric to boost its bioavailability.
- Add black pepper to your turmeric to increase its bioavailability by 2,000 times
- Ghee, coconut oil and other healthy fats ease the absorption of turmeric
- Heat activates turmeric