Cancer Prevention Turmeric is the spice that gives curry its yellow color.
It has been used in India for thousands of years as a spice and medicinal herb.
Recently, science has started to back up what the Indians have known for a long time... it really does contain compounds with medicinal properties (1).
These compounds are called curcuminoids, the most important of which is curcumin.
Curcumin is the main active ingredient in turmeric. It has powerful anti-inflammatory effects and is a very strong antioxidant.
However, the curcumin content of turmeric is not that high... it's around 3%, by weight (2).
Most of the studies on this herb are using turmeric extracts that contain mostly curcumin itself, with dosages usually exceeding 1 gram per day. It would be very difficult to reach these levels just using the turmeric spice in your foods.
Therefore, if you want to experience the full effects, then you need to take an extract that contains significant amounts of curcumin.
Unfortunately, curcumin is poorly absorbed into the bloodstream. It helps to consume black pepper with it, which contains piperine... a natural substance that enhances the absorption of curcumin by 2000% (3).
I personally prefer to swallow a few whole peppercorns along with my curcumin supplement, in order to enhance absorption.
Curcumin is also fat soluble, so it's always wise to take it with a fatty meal.