TL; DR Summary:
Turmeric or curcumin for joint pain, which should you choose? Curcumin should be a slightly better choice due to the fact that it has a higher absorption rate and the fact that you need to take a lot more turmeric than curcumin to get the same effects. Curcumin supplements provide a better value for money and are sometimes cheaper than turmeric supplements.
Curcumin is usually a part of the ingredient formula with nutrients such as selenium, MSM, chondroitin, and ginger. These are all scientifically backed and shown to provide great effects for joint health, and when mixed together, they will be far more effective than taking just turmeric or curcumin alone. Thankfully, there are a lot of high-quality joint supplements available on the market that use these ingredients.
What is Turmeric?
Turmeric is a yellow spice that has been used in various products and cultures for a long time for cooking and as medicine. It has plenty of benefits including improved joint health and reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease. [1, 2]
- Generally, most of the evidence available so far shows that turmeric is effective and safe, not just for joint aches but also for many health conditions, including brain fog, for example, weight loss, blood sugar regulation, and more.
If you’re doubting the safety of turmeric, you can always talk to your doctor to be safe, but as we previously mentioned, turmeric is generally safe for most people, especially when used in recommended daily doses.
An interesting fact; turmeric can also be used as a sunscreen.
What is Curcumin?
Now let’s talk about Curcumin. Curcumin is a type of curcuminoid. Curcuminoids are compounds within turmeric, and the most potent and well-studied curcuminoid is curcumin. It has plenty of benefits; it can reduce joint inflammation, reduce joint pain, stiffness, and even boost brain function. People who take curcumin on an everyday basis say that their whole body has improved.
- One of the most known benefits of taking curcumin is reduced inflammation, which is why this ingredient is being studied for its effects on arthritis. As we previously stated, curcumin can also boost brain function including improving memory and learning skills. Due to its antioxidant effects, it can prevent cell damage and fight free radicals. To achieve the same effects of taking turmeric powder, you usually need less curcumin, because curcumin is a more effective form of turmeric. [3, 4, 5]
If you wonder what family of compounds curcumin belongs to, the answer is that curcumin is a phytochemical found in the root bark of turmeric.
Curcumin has been observed to have a significant antiproliferative effect in colon cancer cells in humans, prostate cancer cells, and melanoma cells. Overall, as you can see, it is a very good ingredient for the body.
So, what is the difference between turmeric and curcumin? They both have similar benefits, so which of the two should I take? Which of the two is most potent and safe in the long run? Let’s talk about that.
What is the Difference Between Turmeric and Curcumin?
The main difference between turmeric and curcumin is that turmeric consists of many other curcuminoids alongside curcumin while taking curcumin alone means that you’re taking a single compound, even though it seems to be the most potent one, as we previously stated.
Another major difference is that supplements with curcumin usually contain ingredients like black pepper extract, which contains piperine, known to help with the absorption of nutrients.
In terms of health, curcumin and turmeric are overall extremely similar, but the biggest difference is that curcumin is a lot more concentrated, which means that it is more potent.
From a holistic perspective, whole turmeric is complete and could be healthier, since turmeric is as it as, from mother nature.
One of the most popular questions we get is about joint aches, which should I take for arthritis symptoms, turmeric or curcumin? Curcumin is a better choice because it is absorbed better. However, it works best for a short period of time.
We recommend taking turmeric if you’re planning to use it long-term for your joints since it contains other beneficial compounds alongside curcumin.
If you’re still thinking about which one to take, we think the best idea would be to start taking both to see how you react to these nutrients. Curcumin might give you greater relief from joint inflammation and pain due to a higher concentration, but turmeric can be healthier due to other compounds for long-term usage.
We’ll give you an example – 100mg of turmeric equals a 1mg dosage of curcumin, which is practically pointless if you’re looking to reduce joint pain and arthritis symptoms to a significant degree. However, a 100mg dosage of curcumin is far more potent for that.
- Supplements help curcumin to be absorbed better due to black pepper extract often included in the list of active ingredients.
It’s Good to Know!
For those who have problems with inflammation, taking citrus peels is another good way of taking polyphenols, which have anti-inflammatory properties. Eat foods that are high in flavonoids, such as blueberries, kale, and blackberries.
They contain quercetin, which also has anti-inflammatory properties that can help with osteoarthritis. This is why some of the best joint supplements on the market combine curcumin with other well-studied anti-inflammatory nutrients, including quercetin.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.