For centuries, the many health properties of turmeric have been recognised, particularly in India’s healing system known as Ayurveda. Modern medicine has validated these health benefits, which stem primarily from turmeric’s anti-inflammatory properties.
Curcumin is the principal active ingredient within turmeric and the compound upon which research studies are based. Incidentally, curcumin is also responsible for the striking colour of turmeric.
Historically the poor bioavailability of curcumin has been a limiting factor for realising the full potential of this compound. While there are several promising studies on the use of curcumin on conditions affecting the GI tract (IBS, IBD), the benefits for other health conditions such as arthritis and Alzheimer’s disease, were somewhat limited by its poor bioavailability.
Curcumin supplementation is the subject of ongoing research and recently products offering enhanced-bioavailability have become available. One noteworthy method which mimics the way that nutrients are absorbed in nature, is the use of micelles. Micelles (which are formed from bile salts) are minute lipid molecules that allow fats to be transported into the water-soluble environment of the gut. Curcumin within micelles has 185 times better bioavailability (compared to standard curcumin), is absorbed faster and has longer retention within the body.
Enhanced delivery systems for curcumin increase the potential medicinal application for this remarkable spice and the benefits can be realised throughout the body, rather than just in the gut.