Dr. Kassam Curcumin Turmeric's Secret Ingredient

Curcumin - Turmeric's Secret Ingredient

Written By: Dr. Saira Kassam, ND

Turmeric is a herb that can be used for almost ANYTHING. It has become quite popular in today’s supplement world. Turmeric, also known as Curcuma Longa is an extraordinary spice that dates back about 4000 years.  It has a long-standing use as a culinary spice and is also widely used in Ayurvedic and Chinese Medicine for treating various digestive and liver issues. The actions of turmeric come from its underground root-like stem structure called rhizome.  The active ingredient in the rhizome is curcumoiuds, which include curcumin, dimethoxycurcumin and bisdemethoxycurcumin. These rhizomes are dried and made into capsules, tablets, teas or extracts. There are thousands of articles out there on Curcumin. Below, I highlight some of the most important and pertinent information for you.  



One of the biggest confusions is the difference between Turmeric and Curcmuin – these terms are sometimes used interchangeably. Turmeric is the plant (Curcuma Longa). Once it is harvested, cleaned, dried and powdered it becomes a spice. Curcumin is the active ingredient in Turmeric and confers all the various health benefits.



Both Curcumin and Turmeric are poorly absorbed and rapidly pass through the digestive system, so eating a lot of turmeric doesn’t necessarily help.  They are oil soluble compounds. Combining it with coconut oil or other dietary oils can help to enhance its absorption.  Traditionally, it is combined in a curry oil or milk. There are many new formulations making curcumin more absorbable. For example, combining it with piperine (the active ingredient of black pepper) can increase its bioavailability about 20x.




Curcumin can be used for numerous health conditions with a low side-effect profile. Below are some of the actions of the miracle that is curcumin!


  • Increases glutathione levels in the body (Glutathione is a potent antioxidant, which kills damaging compounds called free radicals in the body)
  • Stops oxidative damage to DNA


  • Lowers inflammatory markers
  • Useful for pain-related conditions like osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. We know that inflammation is implicated as an underlying factor for so many chronic diseases. So, curcumin is a good add-on treatment for chronic diseases
  • Useful as a pain reliever. Studies comparing NSAIDs to curcumin showed they both had comparable anti-inflammatory effects


  • Hypertensive reducing effect
  • Lowers cholesterol levels


  • Increases the output of bile and promotes gallbladder function which stimulates digestive secretions
  • Curcumin showed to inhibit the growth of H.Pylori in people who have GI disturbances


  • It has antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties


  • Supports liver detoxification pathways


  • Curcumin improves insulin signalling during high-fat diet consumption
  • Prevents inflammation and insulin resistance


Turmeric as a whole food has benefits, curcumin as an isolated extract is key. The health-promoting effects of curcumin are well recognized and have been in practice in traditional medicine since ancient times. It helps with disease management due to its non-toxic nature and fewer side effect profiles. So if you weren't sold on Curcumin before, I hope you are now!





The advice in this article is for informational purposes only. It does not replace the care of a Naturopathic physician.