Curcumin vs Quercetin – Which is Better for Pain & Inflammation?

Curcumin vs quercetin

Curcumin vs Quercetin – The Short Answer

Curcumin and Quercetin are both potent antioxidants that are found in our diet. They are both well-studied and shown to be safe to supplement daily. But which one is better? In terms of reducing inflammation and joint pain, curcumin is the clear winner. It has a more potent effect on inhibiting the COX-2 enzyme which is one of the key players in joint inflammation.

Curcumin also boosts your body’s native antioxidants such as glutathione, which further contributes to a reduction in pain, swelling, and general inflammation. The only area where quercetin may have a slight advantage over curcumin is in inhibiting nasal swelling and sinus infections.

What is Curcumin?

Curcumin is the active ingredient of turmeric, a plant with yellow-orange roots. Curcumin has antioxidant properties and can be used to help with pain relief and other conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, arthritis, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s. [1]

Curcumin may also be beneficial for those who suffer from depression. It may provide protection against depression by increasing brain levels of serotonin and dopamine. [2] Curcumin may also help with substance addiction by affecting the same brain-reward regions as cocaine and nicotine.

  • This may discourage addicts from continuing their drug use. It is unclear how curcumin works in this process, but it may interfere with the drugs’ ability to trigger dopamine release in the same brain regions that are activated during pleasurable activities.

Curcumin for Weight Loss

What many people don’t know is that curcumin is also helpful for weight loss. It has been shown in studies to increase the amount of fat you burn at night, which is why it’s such a popular ingredient in fat burners.

It can also help improve insulin sensitivity, and due to its antioxidant properties, it can help prevent damage to cells that result in chronic diseases like diabetes and cancer.

There are so many benefits to curcumin and turmeric that we could write a lengthy article on this subject alone – it might be the most researched supplement currently on the market.

What is Quercetin?

Quercetin is an antioxidant flavonol that is one of the most abundant antioxidants in the human diet. It is a water-soluble plant pigment found in many fruits and vegetables, including apples, onions, honeydew melons, and berries.

  • This plant pigment has been studied extensively and it offers a number of benefits to the body.

Quercetin supplementation has been shown to help reduce allergies and asthma symptoms. [3]

Furthermore, it may provide protection from brain injury, stroke, and viral infections such as influenza. Best of all, quercetin is available as a dietary supplement in capsule, tablet, and powder form, in far higher amounts than you can get from food alone.

  • Some evidence points out that higher doses of quercetin can potentially provide some benefits that you wouldn’t get through your diet alone; such as a reduction in inflammation.

How It Works

Quercetin acts as an antioxidant and has the ability to inhibit cellular oxidation.

  • Quercetin has been shown to activate an enzyme called Nrf2, which is responsible for regulating genes related to the body’s defense against oxidative stress and inflammation. By activating Nrf2, quercetin protects cells from free radicals by increasing the production of antioxidants. [4]

Quercetin and its derivatives are able to protect cells from free radicals, leading to a decreased risk of many types of cancer, cardiovascular diseases, as well as neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s disease. Quercetin is also thought to be able to inhibit protein oxidation.

Quercetin has been shown to be particularly effective at inhibiting inflammation in the joints and is thought to be beneficial for those with arthritis and joint pain. This makes it similar to curcumin in its effects.

But, which one is ultimately more effective?

Quercetin vs Curcumin: The Bottom Line

Looking at the available evidence, Curcumin appears to be more effective than Quercetin in terms of its anti-inflammatory activity. It can reduce swelling, pain, and stiffness in joints.

Quercetin is a popular supplement that is used as an antioxidant to help with inflammation. It helps fight chronic inflammation, which can lead to things like joint pain or arthritis.

However, curcumin can fight inflammation better at the molecular level by targeting COX-2 enzymes and other inflammatory compounds in cells. It also boosts your body’s native antioxidants such as glutathione and superoxide dismutase, which is another advantage over quercetin.

The bottom line: You will want to use Curcumin if you are looking for a supplement that will work faster and better than Quercetin, especially if your goal is to improve joint function. However, combining both is even better – it is going to give you the most noticeable results.

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  1. Jurenka JS. Anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin, a major constituent of Curcuma longa: a review of preclinical and clinical research. Altern Med Rev. 2009 Jun;14(2):141-53. Erratum in: Altern Med Rev. 2009 Sep;14(3):277. PMID: 19594223.
  2. Ramaholimihaso T, Bouazzaoui F, Kaladjian A. Curcumin in Depression: Potential Mechanisms of Action and Current Evidence-A Narrative Review. Front Psychiatry. 2020 Nov 27;11:572533. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2020.572533. PMID: 33329109; PMCID: PMC7728608.
  3. Townsend EA, Emala CW Sr. Quercetin acutely relaxes airway smooth muscle and potentiates β-agonist-induced relaxation via dual phosphodiesterase inhibition of PLCβ and PDE4. Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Physiol. 2013 Sep;305(5):L396-403. doi: 10.1152/ajplung.00125.2013. Epub 2013 Jul 19. PMID: 23873842; PMCID: PMC3763034.
  4. Darband SG, Sadighparvar S, Yousefi B, Kaviani M, Ghaderi-Pakdel F, Mihanfar A, Rahimi Y, Mobaraki K, Majidinia M. Quercetin attenuated oxidative DNA damage through NRF2 signaling pathway in rats with DMH induced colon carcinogenesis. Life Sci. 2020 Jul 15;253:117584. doi: 10.1016/j.lfs.2020.117584. Epub 2020 Mar 24. PMID: 32220623.

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