Curcumin vs. Cumin: What Is The Difference?

Natural products have been used for their therapeutic properties for centuries. Various traditional medicine forms are modeled based on them. These include Ayurveda, Unani, Chinese and Korean practices. Over time, synthetic, mass-produced drugs became more popular.

However, these came with their own drawbacks. Extensive research and time must go into them prior to commercial production and a lot of times, these medicines are not safe or compatible for the human body and may cause a multitude of side effects.

This led to a renewed interested in plant-based substances for healing and disease treatment. Substances such as curcumin and cumin have found a wide variety of uses in therapeutics although they are starkly different in their origin, bioactivity, and function.

What is the difference between curcumin and cumin?

Curcumin and cumin are not the same: Despite the many health benefits they offer it is incorrect to mistake one for the other. Curcumin is the active component of turmeric while cumin is a spice by itself. It is important to consider that they have different origins, flavours and mode of action therefore one must consider carefully and avoid confusing the two.

Curcumin and cumin may sound similar, however, they are starkly different from each other in a number of ways. To start with, curcumin is obtained from the spice turmeric, a member of the ginger family while cumin belongs to the parsley family.

Curcumin is the active component of turmeric while cumin is a spice by itself.

Their differences can be highlighted further by appearance as well. A single glance at the bright yellow curcumin will have you convinced that it holds no relation with brown elongated cumin seeds.

In addition to this, they taste and smell is nothing alike. The parts of the plants they are obtained from also vary as cumin is a seed and curcumin comes from the rhizome of the turmeric plant.

curcumin and cumin difference

What is the difference between curry powder and cumin

Curry powder is referred to a mix of more than one spices (turmeric, chili, cumin, cinnamon, mustard seeds, etc.) which is used in curry various recipes. Cumin, on the other hand, is a spice which is used in making curry powder or used independently in food.

Continue reading the article to get more details on their benefits and differences.

What is turmeric and curcumin?

Curcumin, also called diferuloylmethane is a component of the turmeric. It is responsible for the golden colour emitted by the spice and offers a variety of health benefits. It is known for acting as a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent.

Another unique property is its ability to bind to and modulate cell signals and ensure healthy and steady pathways within the human body.

8 Proven Health Benefits of Curcumin

Here are a few evidence-based health benefits of curcumin:

1.It has anticancerous property

Cancer development and progression occurs as a result of a series of complicated molecular and genetic pathways within the human body. Curcumin administration monitors such related pathways and can decelerate tumour development.

The compound controls cell cycle signals and tumour related genes. In particular, it down regulates the activity of key genes like p53, egr-1, c-myc and bcl-XL genes. In reaction with curcumin, these components are susceptible to toxicity and slowly die out.

Curcumin can also activate apoptosis i.e. program cell death. A combination of all these effects that halts tumour development.

2. It is great for brain health

Curcumin has been administrated in a number of clinical trials for neuro degenerative problems, all yielding positive results. An added bonus is the low toxicity and levels and cost effectiveness associated with its use.

The main mechanism through which curcumin aids such problems is through its anti-aging property. It obstructs the pathways within cells which lead to development of proteins whose insolubility and accumulation cause aging and functionality loss of the brain and nerve cells.

It has shown potential in the treatment of many problems like Parkinson’s, Huntington’s and Alzheimer’s.

3. It is a natural antioxidant

Free radicals are harmful chemicals found in our body in an unbound state. These are kept in check by antioxidant compounds. If the rate of build-up of free radicles exceeds the rate of their elimination a toxic condition known as oxidative stress takes place.

In presence of oxidative stress organs in the body get damaged.

Curcumin’s free radical scavenging ability imparts it the ability to combat oxidative damage through targeted free radical elimination. This has been displayed in animal models of oxidative stress induced liver damage as well as cerebral ischemia (inadequate blood supply to the brain due to free radical mediated blockage).

4. It protects liver health

Liver toxicity can be caused due to multiple reasons; some of these involve overconsumption of alcohol or heavy metal poisoning. Heavy metals which lead to oxidative stress conditions in the liver and hinder its functioning are arsenic, copper, lead and mercury.

Numerous experiments have revealed that curcumin administration can protect the liver from damage by regulating of antioxidant enzymes, prevention of harmful oxidation reactions and regulation of cellular respiration.

These mechanisms of the compound help in maintaining a healthy liver.

5. It has anti-inflammatory property

Inflammation is a process which takes place due to the body’s attempts to repair damage caused by a wound or infection. Curcumin has yielded positive results when used to ease inflammatory responses in a number of skin problems.

A PLoS One 2013 paper also highlighted the compounds effectiveness in reducing inflammation in an animal model of Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS), a lung problem wherein the alveoli (the small air sacs of the lungs which are responsible for conducting gaseous exchange) undergo severe swelling.

Curcumin relieves such occurrences and provides a potential remedy for inflammation. It lowers swelling and enables deactivation of inflammatory molecules.

6. It protects against toxic radiations

Exposure to ionic radiations for a prolonged period of time may result in detrimental impacts to the body. These radiations are responsible for development of learning disabilities, loss of memory and tumour formations.

However, Xie Y et al found that curcumin provides a solution to this problem. Regular administration of the compound shields cells from the toxic radiations and the oxidative damage they may cause.

7. It benefits mental health

Curcumin has a number of positive effects on the brain. It is a known neuroprotective agent and it improves cognitive function. However, it has recently been discovered that this spice may be useful for patients effected by mental illnesses as well.

Earlier this year, a small scale clinical trial was carried out where curcumin use helped alleviate signs of depression in a group of patients. This suggests the regular consumption could help reduce stress and anxiety levels associated with modern lifestyles and relieve mental health disorders.

8. It is a natural antimicrobial agent

Microbes and foreign pathogens are responsible for a multitude of diseases as they cause infections which have detrimental impacts on our organs. Curcumin counters their growth and multiplication. It has been to be a powerful antimicrobial and antibacterial agent.

It is particularly lethal to the strains of Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli. By evading microbial infections, curcumin could inexpensively help relieve global health struggles related to bad hygiene and improper sanitation.

curcumin and cumin difference

What is cumin?

Cumin cyminum is a spice obtained from an herb which grows primarily in the Mediterranean and South Asian countries. It belongs to the parsley family and is known for the distinctive flavour it imparts to dishes.

It is used in whole and ground forms. Over the past few decades its popularity has been reaching new heights due to the spread of awareness of health benefits it offers in addition to taste. Some of these are listed as follows:

8 Proven Health Benefits of Cumin

Here are a few evidence based health benefits of cumin seeds:

1.It is a potential nutraceutical

The essential oils and extracts that can be obtained from cumin offer a number of biological benefits. Several studies have shown that the spice can act as an antioxidant, anti-allergen and against blood clot formation.

These factors when incorporated into a suitable nutritional product would boost immunity and metabolism in the body. Extensive research is being carried out in order to incorporate the physiological and chemical properties of the spice into a singular substance in the most efficient way possible.

2.It is a natural antibacterial agent

Cumin has demonstrated a high level of potency in acting against toxic bacteria. It does this through a number of mechanisms, such as biofilm elimination and inducing structural changes in the infecting species.

This property has been illustrated through its growth countering effects on several strains such as Curtobacterium, Rhodococcus, Xanthomonas, and Agrobacterium.

It has also shown negative effects on the ‘superbug’ Klebsiella Pneumoniae thus protecting against pneumonia, urinary tract infection and other such microbes.

3. It protects memory and brain health

Prevalence of stress and nerve disorders leading to memory loss has been steadily increasing in the past couple of years. A 2011 Pharmaceutical Biology study showed that cumin usage provides an efficient and non-invasive cure to such disorders.

Through an animal based experiment, researchers determined that levels of markers of stress were significantly reduced on cumin administration. Daily doses also improved memory in the subjects. Therefore this spice shows promise as pharmacological agent of stress reduction and memory enhancement.

4. It is a natural anticancerous agent

Many scientists have hypothesised that cancer development and its rate of spreading to other organs can be impacted greatly by the diet of the patient. To validate this theory, Gagandeep and colleagues used cumin and assessed its reactions with forestomach and uterine cervix tumours in model systems.

They saw that cumin could modulate enzyme levels as well as control the metabolic activities of carcinogenic substances (cancer causing). This implies that this commonly used food additive could in fact slow down the progression of this disease.

5. It has antioxidant effects

Cumin contains a multitude of useful chemicals. Some of these are phenols, flavonoids, and tannins. These are responsible for many of the positive effects brought about by the compound.

However, the most important among these is its antioxidant effects. It can eliminate numerous toxic free radicles, it acts as a reducing agent when required thereby preventing oxidative damage.

It also scavenges radicals and prevents lipid peroxidation making it highly effective for maintaining good vascular health.

6. It is a natural antidiabetic agent

Through modulation of metabolic activities, cumin helps regulate the levels of key enzymes in the body including insulin. It is a known hypoglycaemic agent i.e. it helps in lowering blood sugar therefore improving health status in diabetic patients.

These findings are based on several related animal studies which indicate its use in humans may yield several benefits as well.

7. It is a natural anti-inflammatory agent

Inflammation and swelling are characteristics of many diseases, infections and forms of arthritis.

Cumin provides a possible solution to this problem and is scientifically proven in experimental studies.

8. It has pain relieving effect

In addition to all above-mentioned benefits, cumin also helps ameliorate pain associated with inflammation or disease-related damage.

This property holds well when compared to other commonly used pain relievers like aspirin. This effect occurs in a dose-dependent manner.

Conclusion

Curcumin and cumin are both spices which are highly useful for disease treatment for humans. They are both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant in nature. They also aid cognitive function, cellular activities and enzyme levels.

However, it is important to note that the extent and mode of their activities are significantly different. Nutritionists highly recommend the dietary use of both. So start spicing up your diet and include turmeric and cumin to your food immediately.

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