Curcumin vs. Cumin: What Is The Difference?

Quick Answer: Difference between Curcumin & Cumin

Curcumin is the active ingredient of turmeric, a rhizome that belongs to the ginger family. It is responsible for the bright yellow color of turmeric. Cumin, in contrast, is an elongated brown seed that belongs to the parsley family. Both curcumin and cumin are different spices with similar-sounding names. They have numerous health benefits with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties in common.

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 with 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 modes 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, their taste and smell are 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 spice (turmeric, chili, cumin, cinnamon, mustard seeds, etc.) which is used in curry various recipes.

Cumin, on the other hand, is a spice that 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 turmeric. It is responsible for the golden color 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.

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 downregulates 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 neurodegenerative 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 the 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 the 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 helps 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 compound’s 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 the 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 the 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 affected 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 that 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:

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

The 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 the pharmacological agent of stress reduction and memory enhancement.

4. It is a natural anticancerous agent

Many scientists have hypothesized 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 tumors 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 anti-diabetic 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 the above-mentioned benefits, cumin also helps ameliorate the 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.

Does cumin contain curcumin?

No. cumin does not contain curcumin. Curcumin, a polyphenol, is a yellow pigment present only in the rhizome of Curcuma longa (turmeric) and other Curcuma species.

It has been shown to help with inflammatory conditions, metabolic syndrome, pain, inflammatory and degenerative eye conditions.

On the other hand, cumin seeds are obtained from the herb Cuminum cyminum belonging to the Apiacea family, a parsley family member.

It does not contain curcumin, and the main constituents are cumin-aldehyde and cuminic alcohol. It also has different terpenes, phenols, and flavonoids. The warm aroma of cumin is due to its essential oil content.




Can cumin and turmeric be used together?

Yes. Cumin and turmeric may be used together in various Indian dishes to add color and enhance flavors. Both are popularly used in curry powder. Cumin has a stronger flavor compared to turmeric, and both compliments each other. Also, there are no reported adverse reactions between cumin and turmeric.

Is the black cumin the same as curcumin?

No. Curcumin is a pigment derived from the spice turmeric with multiple health benefits. It has been served in tea, curries, cosmetics, and colorant. Black cumin seeds (Nigella sativa) are also known as black seed, black caraway, or kalonji. It is used as a spice and flavoring agent in bread, yogurts, pickles, sauces, and salads.

What are cumin and curcumin good for?

Cumin seeds are known for their antibacterial effects, controlling cholesterol, managing diabetes, and antioxidant effects. It is popularly used for digestive disorders. Curcumin has been shown to control inflammatory conditions, metabolic syndrome, pain, and inflammatory eye conditions. Its health benefits are mainly due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

In the End…

Curcumin and cumin are both spices that are useful for health.

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 recommend the dietary use of both. So start spicing up your diet and include turmeric and cumin in your food.

6 thoughts on “Curcumin vs. Cumin: What Is The Difference?”

  1. I take a tumeric and black pepper shot 3 times a week for healing and repair purposes. Do you think this would pose me any problems with blood thining? Also is there any evidence to suggest tumeric can be useful for vision health. Thanks

  2. I have orbital pseudotumour – doctors want to prescribe steroids which ADVERSELY affect systemically throughout the body. I read of a study involving curcumin 375mg /3 times / day for 6-22 months. Cant afford the Supplements – would cost £1,124.00! Read that cooked with black pepper helps curcumin absorbtion. But its being able to take enough and how thats a problem. Any suggestions?


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