Curcumin is the principal active ingredient found in turmeric, and it’s this which gives turmeric its bright yellow colour. Curcumin is sold as a food flavouring and colouring, as well as a health supplement.
Curcumin has been used for medicinal purposes for at least 5000 years, and was a key ingredient in the Indian Ayurvedic medicine system. Today, curcumin has been widely studied, and it is known to have several important health giving properties.
To start with, curcumin has potent anti-inflammatory effects in the body, and since chronic inflammation is at the root of most chronic diseases, this is significant. Curcumin has been shown to fight inflammation very effectively at a cellular level.
Curcumin has also been shown to have powerful antioxidant properties, which can help to limit cell damage caused by free radicals. Not only this, but curcumin boosts the body’s own natural antioxidant enzymes.
Meanwhile, early studies have shown promise that curcumin may be able to help treat or prevent Alzheimer’s and other degenerative brain diseases, because it increases the amount of a hormone known as BDNF, low levels of which are implicated in these disorders.
Curcumin supplements are popular in tablet and capsule format. Since curcumin is poorly absorbed by the body, however, many people like to take black pepper with the supplements, as piperine improves the bioavailability of curcumin.