Turmeric Supplements: Health Benefits & Uses
Mar 15th 2021
Turmeric is a gorgeous yellow spice known to be a powerful superfood. Through centuries of traditional use and plenty of modern scientific research, Turmeric has demonstrated remarkable abilities to benefit human health. Let’s dig deep into all things Turmeric!
What is Turmeric?
Turmeric ( Curcuma longa) is a flowering plant native to Southeast Asia. Turmeric is a member of the Ginger family (Zingiberaceae), and sometimes even referred to as “yellow ginger.” The part of the Turmeric used for cooking and health is the rhizome, a word that comes from the Greek for “mass of roots.” A rhizome is actually different than a root—it’s like a long tuber that grows horizontally underground. Each section or node of a rhizome has the potential to sprout roots below and leaves above… each piece contains the whole.
Once the rhizome sprouts, Turmeric begins a journey into splendor. Pale shoots stretch upward and quickly grow dark green leaves on a sturdy stem. The mature plant can be up to six feet high, and it blooms in a whorl of gorgeous petals. After harvest, the clusters of rhizomes are washed and then gently processed as powders or extracts.
While the dirt-bound Turmeric rhizome may seem unassuming at first glance, generations of cooks and healers have found that it hides bright gold. Turmeric’s distinctive saffron color and earthy taste give many curries, pickles, and condiments their sunny look and complex character.
Benefits of Turmeric Supplements
Turmeric is yummy, sure, but there’s certainly a lot more to love than just its flavor! The reason Turmeric is a superfood is because it has important health benefits.
Healthy Inflammation Response
Turmeric has been shown to help maintain a healthy inflammation response in the whole body.*
Turmeric supports brain health and cognitive function such as working memory: the ability to retain and recall information during short-term tasks.*
Heart-healthy Turmeric helps maintain healthy cholesterol levels (already in the normal range), a process that supports cardiovascular health.*
Turmeric is believed to support liver function and the body’s natural ability to remove harmful compounds.*
Antioxidants for Cellular Health
Turmeric has powerful antioxidant properties and can scavenge free radicals in the body, helping to protect cells from damage.*
How Often Should You Take Turmeric?
In many cultures, Turmeric is embraced as an essential culinary spice and it’s consumed every day. There is not a set recommended amount for daily Turmeric like there is for, say, Vitamin A. But you can definitely start getting its benefits daily with a high-quality and potent Turmeric supplement. New Chapter’s Turmeric Force™ products are designed to provide Turmeric’s best qualities—and they’re formulated so your body can really absorb the good stuff.
We always recommend talking to your healthcare practitioner about supplements you’re taking or planning to start.
History of Turmeric as a Medicine
From ancient healing systems to hundreds of modern scientific studies, Turmeric reigns supreme for having unique compounds and many benefits.
Use of Turmeric Traditionally
For starters, Turmeric has been revered as a longevity tonic in Ayurveda and in Traditional Chinese Medicine, two of the oldest healing traditions in the world. Turmeric has at least 53 different names in Sanskrit, including Bhadra, which means auspicious or lucky.
In the Ayurvedic tradition, Turmeric has long been used to support digestion, liver health, respiratory health, and healthy inflammation response, and Turmeric is also used topically for balancing skin health. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, Turmeric belongs to a category of herbs known to invigorate the blood, remove stagnation, and facilitate the movement of Qi, or life force.
Scientific Research on Turmeric Supplements
Turmeric is one of the most scientifically researched botanicals in the world. Modern research has affirmed Turmeric’s support for multiple systems in the body, including a healthy inflammation response, and importantly, healthy aging! And it doesn’t stop there. Some of the world’s most prestigious institutions have investigated the health benefits of Turmeric, and this illustrious spice holds up to scrutiny. Among other clinical and preclinical studies, Turmeric has been researched for its distinctive antioxidants and phytonutrients that support the cardiovascular system, liver detoxification, and modulated inflammation.
What to Look for in a Turmeric Supplement
Turmeric is amazing, obviously, and there are a ton of supplement options available that make it easy to add Turmeric to your routine every day. But how do you find the best Turmeric for you? Here’s a quick list of things to keep in mind as you compare labels.
- Look for full-spectrum extracts of whole-herb Turmeric, not just isolated Curcumin (a single compound found within Turmeric).
- Check on absorption. Is the product formulated for absorption with whole Turmeric rhizome that the body can recognize and use as a food? Or is it only isolated curcumin extract plus additives like black pepper to try to increase absorption?
- Compare third-party validations. For example, is the supplement Non-GMO Project Verified? Certified gluten free? Is the company a Certified B Corporation?
- How about the sourcing story—is the Turmeric ethically and sustainably sourced?
How Does Turmeric Work?
Turmeric works through the action of its phytonutrients, which means plant compounds. There are actually over 100 bioactive constituents that have been identified in Turmeric, and each has its own unique activity. Ideally, the body recognizes Turmeric as a food and breaks it down, and then the various constituents get to work. For example, Turmeric’s natural compounds have antioxidant action in the body, meaning they help defend your cells against oxidation and free radicals.
What is Curcumin?
You may have heard about one compound in Turmeric known as Curcumin (no relation to the spice cumin). Curcumin supplements are extremely popular, and they follow drug development trends of isolating and intensifying a single herbal component for medicinal use. Curcumin tends to steal the limelight and has often been called the “active ingredient” in Turmeric. Many published articles look at the action of curcumin alone, rather than studying the symphony of compounds found in whole Turmeric.
However, the Curcumin compound is only 5% of what whole Turmeric has to offer. On top of that, isolated Curcumin is difficult for the body to absorb. The truth is, Turmeric has a range of 100s of other active compounds. For example, it’s rich in volatile oils, such as Turmerones, as well as many other “non-curcuminoids.” Recent research suggests these actives may be just as valuable as Curcumin. The non-curcuminoids in Turmeric like those oil-based Turmerones actually enhance the bioavailability of Curcumin and help the body to absorb Curcumin properly.
The moral of the story is that the wisdom of the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The dynamic potential of the whole plant cannot be captured in just one constituent, because all of the compounds in Turmeric work together to deliver nature’s wisdom and the full spectrum of antioxidant activity.
Does a Turmeric Supplement Need Black Pepper?
If you shop for curcumin supplements you may notice some contain additives like black pepper or DLPA. Why is that? Well, because curcumin has notoriously low absorption and “use-ability” in the body, companies add black pepper or its derivative, piperine, to many standardized curcumin supplements. But while research has shown that piperine may enhance absorption of curcumin, a whole-herb Turmeric supplement that’s been formulated for absorption doesn’t need black pepper to do the job.
New Chapter believes nature got it right the first time. Our Turmeric Force products are made with two types of whole Turmeric extracts to deliver the hundreds of compounds in the balance that nature intended, complete with Curcumin, Turmerones, and many more. Our Turmeric is expertly formulated for optimal absorption, to unlock multiple health benefits. Think of curcumin as a star player on your favorite sports team. No matter how valuable that player may be, you need the whole team to win a game. So, the answer is—curcumin supplements may need black pepper, but our whole-food Turmeric supplements do not. What’s needed for optimal absorption is the synergy delivered in whole Turmeric!
How is Turmeric Extracted?
Over the years, scientists have found various methods for extracting phytonutrients from herbs. But some of these extraction techniques can use harsh ingredients like the chemical hexane. New Chapter is different. We choose only gentle methods to deliver super-pure, super-potent herbal extracts. We honor the holistic wisdom of the whole plant by aiming to deliver its full spectrum of natural phytonutrients—nothing isolated out or stripped away.
There are different ways of unlocking an herb’s unique profile of phytonutrients for our bodies to recognize and use. One of the most common methods used traditionally for centuries is simple yet effective—it’s the use of water to extract a plant’s beneficial compounds. Using water extracts the water-soluble compounds from a plant, and the result is called an aqueous extract. When you make a cup of tea, for example, the water-soluble compounds in the tea leaves dissolve in the hot water, flavoring the liquid to give you the taste and other benefits you associate with tea. Some of Turmeric’s phytonutrients are water soluble and can be delivered as aqueous extracts.
Not all compounds are water soluble. Some are best extracted using ethanol (alcohol), and others may be fats or oils that won’t dissolve well in water or alcohol. What is a safe, effective way to preserve all of a plant’s beneficial compounds and organic nuances, including its beneficial fats and oils? New Chapter uses a gentle, clean extraction method with natural carbon dioxide gas, known as supercritical CO2 extraction. Supercritical extraction captures the delicate volatile oils, including Turmerones, that may be left out of other formulas (like those curcumin isolates). At the same time, the method can also highly concentrate phytonutrients, in ratios as high as 25 to 1, so the active constituents of the finest whole herbs can be delivered in just one small capsule.
Combining supercritical compounds with an aqueous extraction helps deliver the full spectrum of Turmeric’s beneficial phytonutrients. At New Chapter, we formulate our products with the natural complexity of the whole plant in mind, to deliver botanicals the body can actually absorb. Supercritical extraction guarantees a natural, whole-herb approach, delivering the full Wisdom of Nature for your maximum benefit. We don’t want to leave anything out!
Where Does Turmeric Come From?
When you are committed to sourcing the highest quality botanicals, you go around the globe to find them. It makes sense that the heart of Turmeric’s tradition is where it grows best, in the rainy tropics, particularly in India. Here the soil conditions and climate are ideal for growing the most phytonutrient-dense Turmeric on the planet. New Chapter partners with sustainable and organic farms with a high regard for soil integrity to source the highest quality raw materials, expertly extract them, and deliver them to you. We also partner with Rodale Institute, a leader in organic and regenerative farming practices to achieve our goal of a regeneratively farmed future for all.
Tips for Taking Turmeric Supplements
Here’s a quick guide to our favorite Turmeric products. We also include Turmeric in many of our multivitamin formulations.
Learn more about Turmeric Force™.
Turmeric Force™ NIGHTTIME
Learn more about Turmeric Force™ Nighttime.
Turmeric Force™ DETOX ACTION
Learn more about Turmeric Force™ Detox Action.
METABOLIC HEALTH: Turmeric & Black Seed Blend
Learn more about Metabolic Health.
Whether you are a novice or an expert to the world of Turmeric, there are a lot of reasons to include this spice into your daily regimen. This magnificent herb with its multiple benefits could truly be an ancient solution for the challenges and concerns of the modern world.