The spice turmeric has a long history of use in Ayurveda, the ancient Indian medical system that uses diet, herbal treatment and yogic breathing. Turmeric is also used as food preservative as well as coloring agent in food items.
More recently and because of its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits, the spice has undergone a sharp rise in the dietary supplement and functional food marketplace, alongside its main bioactive compound, curcumin, which gives turmeric its distinct flavor and golden yellow color.
What Is Turmeric?
Turmeric is derived from the roots of the Curcuma longa plant, a flowering plant of the ginger family. The plant reaches only a few feet in height and produces a flower and rhizome, or underground stem. The rhizome is boiled, dried and pounded into a fine powder.
Turmeric contains a group of bioactive compounds called curcuminoids, the most important of which is curcumin.
Curcumin is the main active ingredient in turmeric and has been studied for its potent anti-inflammatory effects and antioxidant properties, capturing the attention from consumers across multiple market segments.
The curcumin content of turmeric is only around 2-6% by weight. Most of the research on turmeric extract typically use dosages greater than 1 gram of curcumin per day. Therefore, it would be difficult to reach any appreciable level just using turmeric spice in your cooking.
This makes turmeric supplements that are standardized to include significant amounts of curcumin a popular choice among consumers.
But curcumin by itself is poorly absorbed by your body. For this reason, many turmeric supplements contain piperine, the major bioactive compound in black pepper that enhances the absorption of curcumin by 2,000%.1
Nonetheless, the demand for turmeric and curcumin supplements along with functional food products containing turmeric are on the rise.
Driving the Demand
The global turmeric market is expected to attain the value of $300.3 million by 2024 – an increase of 63% from 2016 – at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7%.2
The powder segment holds the largest market share due to the vast use of powdered turmeric in various dishes by the food and beverage industry.
The turmeric and curcumin market is largely driven by the shift toward preventative health amid rising healthcare costs and increasing financial and disability burden of lifestyle diseases such as type 2 diabetes, obesity and heart disease. Chronic inflammation is thought to be at the root of many of these lifestyle diseases.3,4
Increasing research and clinical substantiation on the health benefits, particularly the anti-inflammatory effects, of curcumin have afforded consumers better targeted health solutions.
Studies have demonstrated curcumin’s ability to support many key areas of health including the joints, cardiovascular and immune system, as well as memory and other aspects of brain health.3
Consumers’ increased awareness on the potential health benefits of turmeric and curcumin are supported by a variety of delivery options, including dietary supplements, beverages, cosmetic and functional food applications.
For example, alternative delivery forms such as turmeric teas, lattes, juices and even sparkling water have made their way into coffee shops and onto grocery store shelves.
Owing to turmeric’s unique flavor profile and appearance, these delivery options offer unexpected flavor blends and visual appeal which are expected to further spark consumer interest in the herb.
Quality and Manufacturing Concerns
As turmeric and curcumin continue to gain popularity, there is always the concern that responsible dietary supplement companies and marketers will have to compete with poor quality, adulterated products.
Using the wrong form or species of the plant or using synthetic rather than turmeric-derived curcuminoids are just a few of the methods companies may use to slash costs.5 Not only does this affect the overall efficacy of the product, but it compromises the safety as well.
Product developers should validate all links in the supply chain, from sourcing to finished product. Audit your ingredient supplier and identify how the ingredient is sourced, collected, tested, transported and stored. Doing so will help protect consumers and ensure a clean, transparent supply chain.
Also problematic is turmeric’s bright yellow color. While appealing to consumers, it can pose challenges when it comes to cleaning manufacturing equipment.
Working with turmeric easily stains machinery to a bright orange or yellow color, requiring additional steps and more time cleaning the equipment that encounters the herb. In some cases, traditional turmeric extract can increase post-production cleaning times five-fold compared with other ingredients.
The Bottom Line
The global demand for turmeric and curcumin is expected to remain high for years to come.
As research into turmeric and curcumin continues forward, the ingredient’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits are likely to translate to other avenues of preventative health and sports performance.
Alongside the increasing awareness from consumers surrounding the herbs health benefits, the various delivery options can help meet consumers’ everchanging demands for convenient, tasty and colorful targeted health solutions.
- Shoba G, Joy D, Joseph T, Majeed M, Rajendran R, Srinivas PS. Influence of piperine on the pharmacokinetics of curcumin in animal and human volunteers. Planta Med. 1998; 64(4):353-6.
- Market Research Store. “Global Turmeric Market Outlook 2017-2023 Research Reports and Industry Size, Share.” Market Research Store. https://www.marketresearchstore.com/report/global-turmeric-market-outlook-2017-2023-research-reports-211058
- Qin S, Huang L, Gong J et al. Meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials of weeks or longer suggest curcumin may afford some protection against oxidative stress. Nutr Res. 2018; 60:1-12.
- Tabrizi R, Vakili S, Akbari M, et al. The effects of curcumin-containing supplements on biomarkers of inflammation and oxidative stress: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Phytother Res. 2019; 33(22):253-262.
- Skiba MB, Luis PB, Alfafara C, Bilheimer D, Schneider C, Funk JL. Curcuminoid Content and Safety-Related Markers of Quality of Turmeric Dietary Supplements Sold in an Urban Retail Marketplace in the United States. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2018; e1800143.
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4 Responses to “Discover the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits of turmeric”
I’ve been having problems with inflammation, and I’m not sure what to do. I had no idea that turmeric would be able to help with this! It would be a good idea for me to see if I can find some in capsule form, since that would make it easy to get.
Hi Braden, although certain supplement such as turmeric can help reduce inflammation, it’s important to focus first on the lifestyle factors that can help reduce inflammation, such as following a minimally-processed, nutrient-dense diet, exercising regularly, limiting alcohol, and achieving adequate sleep.
This is very informative and scinetific literatuer.
Thanks for explaining how curcumin has anti-inflammatory effects and health benefits. My wife and I are trying to stay healthy by taking supplements for certain medicines rather than the pills themselves. I’ll look for some curcumin that I can easily use.