Turmeric or Curcumin for Joint Pain – Which is Better?

Turmeric vs Curcumin

TL; DR Summary:

Turmeric or curcumin for joint pain, which is better? The answer is that curcumin is typically the better option, due to its higher absorption rate and the simple fact that you need far more turmeric than curcumin to achieve the same effect. Curcumin supplements are also more cost-effective than turmeric supplements. That being said, neither turmeric nor curcumin can do all the heavy lifting on their own.

Curcumin is typically part of a more comprehensive joint formula with other proven ingredients, such as MSM, selenium, ginger, and chondroitin. Together, these will give you a far greater effect in joint pain reduction and mobility improvement than turmeric or curcumin alone. Luckily, there are a number of high-quality supplements on the market that contain these ingredients and are reasonably priced.

What is Turmeric?

Turmeric is a golden-yellow spice that has been used for centuries in various cultures. In India and China, it is used for cooking and as medicine. Turmeric has a wide range of benefits from improving joint health to reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s. [1, 2]

There are a few concerns about turmeric and its potential risks, such as the increased risk of bleeding in certain people. However, the evidence for and against the use of this spice is limited so further research is needed to know what the side effects are.

  • Generally, most of the evidence so far shows that turmeric is safe and effective, not just for joint pain but also for a variety of health conditions. Such as “brain fog”, poor blood sugar regulation, weight loss, and more.

For this reason, I believe that it is safe for most people to use turmeric for joint pain. If you have any concerns or questions about the safety of this spice or if you have significant health conditions like diabetes then your doctor should be consulted before trying it.

Interesting fact: turmeric is also said to be an effective sunscreen. To use this recipe, make a paste with a tablespoon of turmeric and one teaspoon of water. Apply on your face, neck and chest before going outside.If you have sensitive skin or can’t eat it then you can use 1/2 turmeric and 1/2 coconut oil. For those who are curious about turmeric, there are plenty of resources to educate you on this ancient spice. 

What is Curcumin?

Curcumin is an extract of a plant called turmeric that has been used for thousands of years in India as a culinary spice; it’s also been used for medicinal purposes for about the last 2,000 years. It has many benefits such as reducing inflammation and increasing brain function. People who take curcumin say they feel their whole body has improved since they started supplementing with it on a daily basis. 

  • One of the most well-known benefits of curcumin is its ability to reduce inflammation, which is why it’s being studied for the treatment of arthritis. It also has an antioxidant effect, which helps fight off free radicals and prevents cell damage. Curcumin has also been shown to help brain function such as aiding with memory and learning problems. You typically need less curcumin than turmeric powder to achieve the same effect because curcumin is a more potent form of turmeric. [3, 4, 5]

If you are someone who likes to geek out, you may ask: what family of compounds does curcumin belong to? The answer is that curcumin is a chemical compound known as a phytochemical that can be found in the root bark of the plant turmeric, and it has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anticancer properties. Curcumin’s effects on cancer are primarily due to its effect on cell cycle regulation and inhibition of DNA damage.

It was observed that curcumin has a significant antiproliferative effect in human colon cancer cells, melanoma cells, and prostate cancer cells. Curcumin has been shown to cause apoptosis in several cancer cell lines, which is bad for cancer cells and good for the body. It also helps to break down beta-amyloid plaques, which are associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Curcumin has also been shown to have an effect on relieving symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

As you probably already know, turmeric and curcumin share many of the same benefits. So, is there any difference between them? Does it matter if you choose a turmeric supplement instead of a curcumin supplement?

What is the Difference Between Turmeric and Curcumin?

The difference between turmeric and curcumin is that turmeric contains many other compounds alongside curcumin. Curcumin is just one component of turmeric, albeit it seems to be the most potent and beneficial one.

Another difference between turmeric and curcumin is that the supplements with curcumin contain certain other components like piperine (black pepper extract), or fat for better absorption. But this can also apply to turmeric supplements.

However, in terms of health benefits, curcumin and turmeric are similar, with one key difference – curcumin is way more concentrated, and as a result, more potent.

  • But if you look at it from a holistic perspective, it’s best to take things as God created them in nature, which means whole turmeric is more complete and could be healthier in the long run.

Okay, but what about joint pain? Should you choose turmeric or curcumin for joint pain and arthritis? The answer is that curcumin is usually the better option because of its better absorption. But it works best if you only take it for a period of time. For long-term use, we recommend turmeric as it contains other beneficial compounds. So, should you buy turmeric or curcumin?

  • Ultimately, you should try taking both to see how your body reacts. You may find that curcumin gives you a more significant relief from joint pain and inflammation than turmeric, due to curcumin’s higher concentration in supplements.

For example, 100mg of turmeric yields a 1mg dose of curcumin, which is nowhere near the studied amounts for reducing joint pain and arthritis. Meanwhile, a 100mg dose of curcumin can provide you with far more potent effects in terms of inflammation reduction.

The reason for this is that the amount of curcumin necessary to get the most out of pain relief and joint health effects is actually quite large. Research on turmeric for joint health has found that between 400-500mg per day in supplement form is required to achieve effective results, which will translate to a whopping 100,000mg of turmeric per day if you were to consume it on its own.

  • Curcumin is also relatively poorly absorbed by the human body, so supplements help to get enough of it into your system.

This is why turmeric supplements need to be taken alongside a fatty meal in order for them to be effective, or by including a high-quality black pepper extract alongside curcumin. It’s also important not to forget another factor in curcumin absorption, and that is your stomach’s acidity. You need to eat food that your stomach can handle before taking a supplement.

Which One is Better for Joint Pain?

Both of them have been shown to be very effective at reducing joint pain. But there are some differences between the two supplements – they are made from the same plant but as we’ve said, turmeric is much less concentrated than curcumin.

As a result, the majority of turmeric supplements are less effective than curcumin supplements.

We mentioned the difference between oral and topical use of turmeric, but there’s also a difference between turmeric powders and curcumin supplements. The powder is best used together in foods or shakes, while curcumin is best taken as a capsule due to its high absorption (assuming there is a black pepper extract included alongside curcumin).

Turmeric vs Curcumin for Inflammation

Turmeric or curcumin for inflammation and arthritis: which one to go for?

Studies generally use curcumin extracts over plain turmeric powder as they are more potent at reducing inflammation due to higher concentrations of curcumin.

Curcumin is one of the most studied phytochemicals in the world. Curcumin has been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects and exhibit antioxidant, anti-cancer, and neuroprotective properties. Because of this, and because it’s more highly concentrated than turmeric, curcumin is the better option if you’re suffering from symptoms of arthritis such as pain, swelling, or stiffness.

It’s Good to Know!

Citrus peels are another good source of polyphenols, which have been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects. Eat foods high in flavonoids such as blackberries, blueberries, and kale.

These foods contain quercetin, which has been shown to act as an anti-inflammatory agent and reduce pain associated with osteoarthritis. This is why the best joint supplements tend to combine curcumin with other proven anti-inflammatory ingredients, quercetin included.



  1. Wang Z, Singh A, Jones G, Winzenberg T, Ding C, Chopra A, Das S, Danda D, Laslett L, Antony B. Efficacy and Safety of Turmeric Extracts for the Treatment of Knee Osteoarthritis: a Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Randomised Controlled Trials. Curr Rheumatol Rep. 2021 Jan 28;23(2):11. doi: 10.1007/s11926-020-00975-8. PMID: 33511486.
  2. Mishra S, Palanivelu K. The effect of curcumin (turmeric) on Alzheimer’s disease: An overview. Ann Indian Acad Neurol. 2008 Jan;11(1):13-9. doi: 10.4103/0972-2327.40220. PMID: 19966973; PMCID: PMC2781139.
  3. Peng Y, Ao M, Dong B, Jiang Y, Yu L, Chen Z, Hu C, Xu R. Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Curcumin in the Inflammatory Diseases: Status, Limitations and Countermeasures. Drug Des Devel Ther. 2021 Nov 2;15:4503-4525. doi: 10.2147/DDDT.S327378. PMID: 34754179; PMCID: PMC8572027.
  4. Daily JW, Yang M, Park S. Efficacy of Turmeric Extracts and Curcumin for Alleviating the Symptoms of Joint Arthritis: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Clinical Trials. J Med Food. 2016 Aug;19(8):717-29. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2016.3705. PMID: 27533649; PMCID: PMC5003001.
  5. Sarker MR, Franks SF. Efficacy of curcumin for age-associated cognitive decline: a narrative review of preclinical and clinical studies. Geroscience. 2018 Apr;40(2):73-95. doi: 10.1007/s11357-018-0017-z. Epub 2018 Apr 21. PMID: 29679204; PMCID: PMC5964053.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.