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Turmeric is scientifically called Curcuma longa. It is a rhizome, kind of herb of the ginger
family. Turmeric is bitter in taste with a slight evocative fragrance of orange and ginger. It
is one of the major ingredients of the Indian curries. It is derived from the root of the plant
and has a brown upper covering and orange colored flesh. It was also known as Indian
saffron because of its orange-yellow color. It has been used for quite a long time for
medicinal purposes.
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Turmeric is generally habituated in tropical regions of India like Tamilnadu because it
requires 20-30 C temperature range for growth and an ample amount of rainfall. The
nutritive quality of turmeric is due to its constituents. Turmeric has Manganese, Iron , Vitamin B6 , Fiber, copper, potassium,
etc. Thus the nutritional value of turmeric is quite high. Turmeric is being used for the treatment of inflammatory and bowel
diseases for quite a long time. Turmeric is used as an ingredient in curry, as a healing agent and used for textile dyeing
purposes.
Curcumin is the most active constituent of turmeric (50-60%) and it has been shown to exhibits anti-oxidant and antiinflammatory properties. Turmeric has been found to exhibit many therapeutic properties and hence is being used for
centuries in the traditional Indian or Ayurvedic medicines. Turmeric has been discovered to have anti-cancerous properties.
Also turmeric is being used for the treatment of inflammatory diseases such as tendinitis, liver cirrhosis, Alzheimers disease
and many other digestive and blood related problems. It has other significant properties like anti-bacterial, liver and kidney
protective nature, blood clot suppressing property and also helps in the prevention of heart attack and hypoglycemia.

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What is Bioavailability of turmeric?


Many studies have shown that turmeric is safe even at higher dosage. The efficacy of turmeric has also been proved by many
clinical studies. This efficacy and safety makes turmeric a potent compound for the treatment of wide range of human
diseases. Besides all these reasons turmeric has not yet been officially declared as a therapeutic agent and the major reason
behind this is the relative low bioavailability of turmeric.
The reason behind the low availability of any agent within the body is its low indwelling activity, inactivity of metabolic
compound or its rapid removal from the body. Studies rule out the first option of low intrinsic activity of turmeric. Turmerics
efficacy and strong activity has helped in its establishment as a therapeutic component in the treatment of many ailments.
However studies regarding absorption, transportation, assimilation and elimination of curcumin have revealed low
absorption and its rapid metabolism which leads to relatively low bio-availability of turmeric.

Why turmeric has low bioavailability?


The major factors that affect the bio-availability of turmeric are sorted below
Serum concentration
Tissue distributions
Rapid metabolism
Short half-life
Serum concentrations

One of the major considerations in the study of curcumin involves low serum levels. The very first study reported related to
the uptake, assimilation and excretion of curcumin was by Whalstrom and Blennow in 1978 using rats. In their studies they
showed poor absorption of curcumin from the gut. When 1g/kg of curcumin was administered orally in the rats only
negligible amount of curcumin was found in their blood plasma. Again in 1980, Ravindranath et al showed that when only 400
mg of curcumin was ingested by the rat, no trace of curcumin was found in the heart blood while only a small trace was found
in the portal blood within 15 min to 24 hours of administration. In a very recent study Yang et al showed that administration
of 10 mg/kg of curcumin results in only 0.36 g/ml of curcumin in the blood serum. These studies show that the route of
administration has a role to play in the metabolism of turmeric. Also the absorption of curcumin is a major factor responsible
for low bio-availability of turmeric.
Tissue distribution
Ingestion and distribution of curcumin to various tissues of body is actively responsible for its bio-availability. But this topic
has not got the attention of the scientists studying about the bio-availability of turmeric. Studies of Ravindranath revealed
that only a trace amount of curcumin was present in the stomach and intestine. Many other studies in this filed have shown
that even higher dosage of curcumin does not increase the absorption of curcumin as well as its distributions.
Metabolites
Liver is the major organ involved in the metabolism of curcumin. After absorption curcumin undergoes conjugations like
sulfation and glucuronidation. When metabolized in liver, the major metabolic product of curcumin are glucuronides of
Tetrahydrocurcumin (THC) and Hexahydrocurcumin (HHC). Most of the studies have shown that these metabolites are
actually less active as compared to Curcumin itself. So when metabolized the activity of curcumin seems to be lost.
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Half-life
Systemic excretion of curcumin from the body is also a major factor responsible for its activity. Studies by Whalstrom and
Blennow showed that when 1g/kg curcumin was ingested by the rat, around 75% of the curcumin was excreted and only a
trace amount was found in the urine. Thus low half-life of curcumin decreases its activity in the body. There is not much
information about half-life of curcumin has an important role to play in its biological activity. But still it is a topic to be
concentrated on in the future.

How can turmerics Low bioavailability be addressed?


These are the problems causing the low availability of curcumin. But some of these problems can be solved using various
ways listed below
Adjuvants
Nanoparticles
Liposomes, phospholipids and micelles
Adjuvants
Adjuvants generally improve the bio-availability of curcumin by blocking its metabolic pathway. Shoba et al combined
Piperine which has the property to inhibit glucuronidation in the liver and intestine, then administered it in the rats and healthy
humans. In rats when 2g/kg of only curcumin was administered, 1.35 g/ml of curcumin was found in the blood serum. But
when it was administered in combination with piperine (20mg/kg), the serum level was increased, time required to reach the
peak level also increased, elimination and half-life were decreased reasonably. Bio-availability of curcumin was increased up
to 154%. In humans when 2g curcumin was administered, the serum concentration was found to be either very low or were
undetectable. Curcumin combined with piperine introduced in the humans, resulted in 2000% increased bio-availability. Thus
the effect of introduction of piperine is much more significant in humans than in rats. The effect of piperine on tissue uptake
has also been shown in many studies. Piperine is one such agent used. There are many other adjuvants that can be used to
serve this purpose like genistein. Thus all these studies have shown that curcumin activity can be modulated both at cellular
and organismic levels.
Nanoparticles
Recently nanoparticles are being used as targeted and triggered drug delivery
mechanisms. These nanoparticles have also emerged as solutions for the bioavailability of certain therapeutic agents. Curcumin is hydrophobic in nature and the
solubility in aqueous solutions arises a problem. Nanoparticles can be used to serve
such purposes in a recent study by Bish et al polymer based nanoparticles with size
less than 100 nm have been synthesized named nanocurcumin. Nanocurcumin has
been found to have the similar biological activity as that of free curcumin. It has the
same anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory effects as the free curcumin has. There
havent been much studies related to nanocurcumin increasing the efficacy of
curcumin. But solid lipid nanoparticles when loaded with curcuminoids
turmeric15
are found to be stable and release curcumin for 12 hours. Research work is going on to study the role of nanoparticles in
increasing the efficacy of curcumin.
Phospholipids, micelles and liposomes
Liposomes are nice drug delivery systems as they have the ability to carry both hydrophobic as well as hydrophilic molecules.
Li et al studies revealed that liposomal curcumin has anti-tumor property for human pancreatic tumor cells. It prevents the
growth of pancreatic tumor cells and also has the anti-angiogenic properties. Evaluation of exact efficacy of liposomal
curcumin over the free curcumin is still under process. The liposomal carrier has more loading capacity of curcumin and also
plays a great role in increasing the bio-availability of curcumin.
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Micelles and phospholipid complexes increase the absorption of drugs from the gastrointestinal tracts resulting in higher
blood plasma concentration and lower elimination and thus increasing the bioavailability. Many studies suggest that the
absorption of curcumin increases from 47% to 56% when it is present in the micelles. Ma et al studied that the half-life of
polymeric micellar curcumin is 60 folds higher than free curcumin. In a study by Liu et al, curcumin (100 mg/kg) and
curcumin-phospholipid complex (corresponding to 100 mg/kg) were administered in rats. Curcumin-phospholipid complex
yielded 600 ng/ml of serum curcumin level while only 267 ng/ml in case of free curcumin. Also the half-life increases 1.5
folds in case of curcumin-phospholipid complex.

Easy ways to make turmeric bioavailable in body


The main reason behind the non-availability of curcumin in body for regular users is due to its low solubility in water. But there
are other ways by which one can take curcumin without its solubility coming in its way.
Black Pepper: One can use the mixture of curcumin with pepper. Bioperine is an extract from the fruit of Piper nigrum (black
pepper). It is one of the best ways to take turmeric by mixing it with Bioperine. Including black pepper in your diet or taking
it with turmeric should help in absorption of turmeric in body.
Mixing with fats: Also mixing curcumin with fat will do. Curcumin can be mixed with coconut oil, flaxseed oil, olive oil
etc.
Mixing w ith Querc etin: Curcumin can be taken as a mixture of curcumin and

quercetin. Q uercetin is flavonoid and is found in many plants and


grapes, onion, citrus fruit etc. Quercetin inhibits the sulfotransferase enzyme that inactivates curcumin.
Also bicurcumax is available which has curcumin dissolved in fat of 10-15% by weight.
foods such as apple, red

Using Silibinin : This is the major active constituent of silymarin, a standardized extract of the milk thistle seeds. It is also
know to increase the bioavailability of turmeric. Well, I am not sure how to use it this in daily life as of now.
Heated water: It can be taken with water too only if its solubility is enhanced (else it generally has to be taken with fats as
part of food). Probably the bioavailability of curcumin can also be enhanced with heat because heat increases the solubility
of curcumin in water. Studies have shown that boiling turmeric in water for 10 min increases its solubility 12 fold (remember
its solubility, not absorption). The verdict is still not out on how much it impacts the absorption. But this may be the reason
why taking turmeric with warm milk (golden milk!) is considered great!
Special tablets: Curcumin tablets are also available. These (one has to be careful as not all tablets may have this poperty,
look for it before buying) are encapsulated and have a specific property. Much of the bio-activity of curcumin is lost because
of the formation of curcumin glucorinide and curcumin sulfate which occurs in the acidic environment inside the stomach. So
these capsules make sure of this that they dissolve only in alkaline environment and remain intact in acidic condition. So
these capsules dissolve and the curcumin remains come out of the capsule in the intestine where its solublisation is not a
problem.

Summary
As detailed above all these problems causing low bio-availability of curcumin can thus be overcome by the above given
strategies, some of them I know are very tech. but others such as black pepper and with fat are easy to follow. As curcumin
is very important in our day to day life as well as it has found its role in the medical field too, it needs to be modulated for
proper utilization. The above explained modulation can thus overcome the situation of low bio-availability of curcumin.

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Kim Medley 6 months ago

I have a history of stroke. I tried a green tea extract for weight loss and tried a capsule of it. When I did I didn't realize it had 160 mg of
caffeine. This shot my bp up to 145/95 and I felt risk of stroke until the caffeine was fully through my system. Then I remembered tumeric
lowers bp so I took 1/2 teaspoon of it with water. My bp dropped to 119/78 in less than 10 minutes! I took an eighth of a teaspoon every
hour the rest of the day while checking my bp. The tumeric does it's thing very quickly and wears off I found so I needed to keep taking
more. I'm grateful this big mistake turned out well.
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KeshavK

Mod > Kim Medley

6 months ago

Thanks Kim.
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Ton Lagerway 5 months ago

I believe that the lack of "Water Solubility" of Turmeric seems to be a major problem which may be a reason why the bioavailability of its
compounds are low.
This problem is further aggravated because of the low beneficial bacterial count in the human gut & intestinal tract as a result of "Clean
Kill" antibiotics! In other words our "Digestive Helpers" have been killed and remain at extremely low levels due to the detrimental lifestyle
that most of us subject our bodies to.
I suggest that fermenting Turmeric may alleviate the problems as much of the "digestion" occurs outside the body via the appropriate
bacteria in a natural & purposely established culture.
Most of the root becomes "Water Soluble" and now is much easier to assimilate into a compromised human digestive system!
Establishment of this mother culture, a "Turmeric bug", "seeded" from naturally occurring fungi & bacteria (in the air and on the
"Unsterilised" Turmeric roots") would perform "first-In" metabolising and so convert much of the turmeric into "water Soluble"
substances.
The web has ample resources (including methodology) to glean methods on how to achieve the above and, at the same time, provide
the family with an extremely refreshing, cheap & healthy alternative to soft drinks.
At the same time, the gut & intestinal tracts are re-populated with beneficial bacterial cultures so essential to a quality life.
Ginger/Turmeric beer is deliciously refreshing and - if made correctly - brimming with all the substances required by our auto-immune
see more
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senaka 7 months ago

Hi, what dose of quercetin you need to increase the bio availbility?
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stariter 10 months ago

Excellent information. Can you give a suggestion as to how much oil/fat must be present to help the bioavailability of turmeric? I like to
take it in full fat yoghurt, assuming that the fat present will be enough...and assume that taking it in full fat milk will be similar. However, in
non-fat products, I have been adding just a few drops...perhaps 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon. What are your opinions?
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KeshavK

Mod > stariter

10 months ago

Hi, When we use turmeric as a spice the oil / fat in curry is good enough. If you prefer fat free adding black pepper to your diet will
be great option. If you like the info on the website, do subscribe to our newsletter and remain updated on new articles! Thnaks
1

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Kenneth Sandale > KeshavK a month ago

If one were to take turmeric with no additional fat at all, how much would be absorbed? My understanding is that black
pepper does not increase absorption--it decreases metabolic destruction in the liver.
Thanks.
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