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Curcumin Extraction Explained

Published: 6 February 2018

There is some confusion about the differences between Turmeric and Curcumin.

The simple answer is that Turmeric is a natural whole-food and Curcumin is a single extract found in the Turmeric root.

Turmeric in its natural state (the root) is a whole-food containing a range of nutrients including; Zinc, Iron, Potassium, Vitamin E, Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, as well as Curcumin. We like to say that Turmeric, as a whole-food, is the way Mother Nature intended us to consume it, whether that be in its raw root form, as a powder, as a paste or capsulated.

There is generally between 3-5% Curcumin, which is the “active” nutrient, found naturally within the Turmeric root. The 95% Curcumin that people refer to is the extracted nutrient after it has been standardized, manufactured, and processed. This percentage can range from 65-95% depending on the process of extraction.

 

How is Curcumin extracted from the Turmeric root?

We use a process called liquid solid extraction.  In liquid solid extraction, a solvent is added to a solid, the insoluble nutrients are separated by gravity or vacuum filtration, and soluble nutrients are “extracted” in the solvent. A sequence of solvents can be used to separate complex mixtures into separate groups. The filtered solution can then be evaporated to recover the extracted material in powder or crystalline form.

The extracted Curcumin powder is then standardised at 95%, combined with the Piper Nigrum (black pepper) and compressed into a tablet. Due to the process of extraction, Curcumin cannot be classified as “organic”, although the Curcumin could have been extracted from organic Turmeric roots.

Although Curcumin can be deemed a high dose concentrate, the benefits of Turmeric as a wholefood should not be disregarded. Our bodies can greatly benefit from consuming Turmeric, “as mother nature intended”, despite the percentage of Curcumin only being around 3-5%, when combined with the other nutrients found naturally within the plant, that offer a myriad of health benefits themselves, our bodies can thrive off this golden yellow super spice.

Many studies have been done on the health benefits of both Turmeric and Curcumin, and have shown to be helpful in the prevention of many aliments and health problems. They have been used to help heal wounds, to help eliminate inflammation, to treat arthritis, to help beat depression, to help prevent Alzheimer’s, to reduce the possibility of heart attacks, and against kidney and liver problems, diabetes, gastric problems, and gallstones, just to name just a few.

One issue found with both Turmeric and extracted Curcumin is that it is not readily bio-available. This is “science talk” for saying that it is not easily absorbed into the bloodstream on its own. Luckily studies have been done that show by combining black pepper with your Turmeric or Curcumin extract can multiply the absorption rate up to 2000%.