Turmeric is a miracle herb.
It is also one of the most researched spice today with more than 600 possible health benefits.
We have been covering many such amazing benefits of turmeric and its key active ingredient – curcumin for a long time on our portal.
If you have been following our blog or know a bit about turmeric you would also know that turmeric is poorly absorbed in our body and thus to get its full benefits adding of black pepper, fats etc. are recommended.
Though it is clear that adding these will increase the absorption, but many readers ask us what actually happens to turmeric when we take it, how is it absorbed in our body?
So here is the answer to your query in form of this short article. Hope you enjoy reading it.
What happens to turmeric in our body?
A study found that when 400 mg of curcumin was given to rats, it resulted in 60% absorption of the dose but very little amounts were actually delivered to the organs.
In a study evaluating the effect of different doses of curcumin on humans, it was observed that doses ranging from 500-8000mg did not lead to detectable levels ofcurcuminn in the blood.
Low levels of curcumin were detected in 10,000-12,000mg dose.
So what exactly happens to turmeric? It undergoes different phases of drug metabolism (how a drug is broken down and utilised in the body).
Upon ingestion, it is first broken down to its active constituents like curcumin. Next part of it is absorbed by the intestinal wall and from here it is transported to the liver.
In the liver, curcumin undergoes biotransformation and conjugation (in simple language it means that original compound is converted or broken down into some other bioactive compound) where it is converted to hexahydrocurcumin, tetrahydrocurcumin, curcumin sulphate and curcumin glucuronide.
So these drug metabolizing actions are typically called glucuronidation and sulfation. It is these reactions that result in low levels of free curcumin.
Each of these reactions can occur in the liver or the intestine.
But the good part is that these metabolites also have pharmacological activity and their activity would increase if they were broken down to give rise to free curcumin.
So that’s exactly why scientists are developing new ways to increase the availability of free curcumin in the system.
Hope this helps in understanding the turmeric absorption process broadly.
Taking upto 1 tsp of turmeric powder is safe. It is best to take turmeric by making it part of your life – e.g. cooking with turmeric.
There are so many ways one can include turmeric in diet, some of them are provided here >
Always remember to include fats or black pepper while taking turmeric as it enhances its bioavailibility. Read more about here>
Which turmeric powder to buy?
The turmeric powder’s quality is very important else it may cause more harm then good. It is best to choose organic turmeric powder or otherwise any reliable brand. It need not be expensive.
If you are unsure about which brand to buy, here is the list of our recommend brands for you.