January 22, 2015

Curcumin Update Part 2: What's The Best Buy?

Curcumin is the most studied of any botanical compound and its beneficial effects have been established by nearly 5,000 peer-reviewed studies.  Most of these studies have involved mice and petri dishes. While the scientific evidence from these trials establish that curcumin has anti-inflammatory properties that promotes health, the compound is not absorbed well by our bodies. Most curcumin in food and supplements stays in the gastrointestinal track and any portion that's absorbed is metabolized quickly.

Increasingly, however, clinical trials involving humans are demonstrating that enhanced versions of curcumin can cross the blood/brain barrier and achieve the beneficial effects demonstrated in the in-vitro and animal studies. As a result, many curcumin supplements are being marketed with claims of greatly enhanced efficacy.  But it's difficult for the consumer to figure out which product is best.

Nearly three years ago, I wrote about one version -- curcumin BCM-95  -- that was endorsed by a well-respected authority. BCM-95 continues to be used in many curcumin products.

Bioperine, a supplement extracted from the fruit of black pepper, also is being used to enhance the bio-availability of curcumin. It has been suggested that the reason peasants in India have the lowest rate of Alzheimer's in the world is that they mix black pepper and turmeric/curcumin as spices in their curry diets.

But how to decide which curcumin product is best?

ConsumerLab's Rating  of Curcumin Products
When I want reliable information on a supplement and the versions of it being marketed, the first place I turn is https://www.consumerlab.com/.  ConsumerLab does independent testing  of  over 1,000 herbs, vitamins and supplements.

To access it's review  of individual products, you have to become a member. But the $36 a year membership fee is worth it as far as I'm concerned.

They updated their review of curcumin supplements in a  report published last November.  The study examined 17 turmeric or curcumin supplements asking these  questions:
  • Does the product really contain the amount stated on the label?
  • Does the product contain contaminants?
  • Once in your body, will the pill break down properly to release its contents?
Here's the results:

Not Approved
  1. Advanced Physician Formula Curcumin
  2. Eclectic Institute Turmeric
  3. Progressive Labs Curcumin BCM-95 (but note: ConsumerLabs   says the disapproval was based only on an omission on the label that has now been corrected)

  1. Curcumin Extreme
  2. Doctor's Best - Best Curcumin C3 Complex
  3. Finest Nutrition (Walgreen) Turmeric
  4. Farrow Formula Curcuminhttp://bit.ly/1sViUol 95
  5. Life Extension Super-Bio-Curcumin
  6. Nature Made Turmeric Curcumin
  7. NOW Curcumin
  8. Nutrigold Turmeric Curcumin Gold
  9. Organic India Turmeric Formula
  10. Planetary Herbal Full Spectrum Turmeric Extract
  11. Puritan's Pride Turmeric Curcumin
  12. Solgar Curcumin
  13. Thomspon Turmeric Curcumin 300
  14. Vitacost Turmeric
Similar to Approved Products
  1. Nature's Bounty Turmeric 450mg
  2. Vitamin World Turmeric Curcumin
But this still leaves  us with a lot of approved  products.  ConsumerLabs helps narrow down the search with this discussion;
So  which preoducts provided the best value?
Doctor's Best Best Curcumin C3 Complex  and NOW Curcumin  were each approved  products providing 500 mg of curcuminoids at the lowest cost (21 cents). If you are interested in enhanced bioavailability, the  Doctor's  Best  product included Bioperine, which can reportedly more than double the bioavailability. Nutrigold Turmeric Curcumin Gold . , ,  also included Bioperine. Products that include BCM-95 may have even greater bioavailability (about 7 times than of normal curcumin). Consequently, although more expensive, Life Extension Super-Bio-Curcumin . . . which contains BCM-95 may be a good value. Curcumin Extreme also contained BCM-95 but was higher in cost to obtain curcuminoids . . . although it does include additional ingredients.
In addition to providing good valuem the Doctor's Best, NOW  and Life Extension products also provide several hundred milligrams of curcuminoids per pill  . . . Some of the other products contain less than 100 mg of curcuminoids per pill, which would require taking many more pills to achieve the same dose of curcuminoids.
Bottom Line for Me:  I've decided I want a product with BCM-95. Life Extension  has both BCM-95 and the extra milligrams of curcuminoids, so I'll go for that  . . . for now. New products touting new enhancements are popping up all the time.

Even Better Options Are in the Pipeline
I mentioned in yesterday's post a recent report on a new strategy to deliver a curcumin-like molecule to the brain to treat Alzheimer's. The researchers here have developed an atomizer to generate a curcumin aerosol.

In another recent research project, curcumin powder was mixed with castor oil in a process called nano-emulsion (think vinaigrette salad dressing). This was found to allow curcumin to be more easily absorbed by the gut


Anonymous said...

Just wondering if you are using the Longvida Curcurmin you discussed last year?

Anna said...

Thank you for this information, John!

There are already products on the market that claim to be nano-encapsulation of curcumin (as well as vitamin C and other substances). For example,


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Raz Gvili said...

thank you!

Anonymous said...

Have you tried Longvida? It crosses the blood-brain barrier, unlike BCM-95.

John Schappi said...

Yeah. At some point in mY journey through the curcumin supplement brands I tried Longvida. I don't take curcumin to make me feel better tomorrow. I take it in the hope that it will slow down the progression of my Parkinson's disease. There's really no way to measure whether that in fact is happening, and certainly no way for me to tell if one brand is better than the other. I try to keep up with the findings with my Google alert for curcumin news. Based on a review of reported studies that I did a year or so ago, I decided on Doctor's Best curcumin but I know there were other brands that also looked good.Since there's no real way to determine which supplement works best, I';; just stick with my current choice until is see new findings that clearly support another brand. I often remind myself that I don't really have Parkinson's disease I've got John Schappi's disease.

Although we both have PD, treatments and pills that work for you may not do anything for me or might even have adverse impact