Old Herbs - New Science

Turmeric Extract

Turmeric Extract is a bright yellow/orange polyphenol having the form of a dry powder that is oil-soluble. The concentrate has neither flavor nor aroma. It colors food readily if there is oil present. The medicinal properties and health benefits of turmeric extract are attributed partly to its strong anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory characteristics.

Turmeric extract is derived from the root of the turmeric plant first by boiling and drying, then by grinding it to a powder, followed by extraction of the active ingredients using a solvent. There are 18 times more curcuminoids in the concentrate than in the natural spice which is simply a powdered form of the dried root. The concentrate is also known as Curcumin.

Turmeric extract has attracted the attention of researchers in the fields of Alzheimer's Disease, Memory Deficits, Arthritis, Cancer, including Breast Cancer and Diabetes.

Turmeric Extract Benefits

General effects:

Effects on major diseases

Alzheimer's Disease: breaks up and prevents Alzheimer's amyloid-beta oligomers and aggregates in laboratory studies. We await further clinical trials.

A Theory of Alzheimer's Disease: Alzheimer's has been shown to be associated with amyloid-beta. Amyloid-beta is a natural fibre produced by brain cells for the purpose of floating off into the brain fluid to find fatty acids such as fish oil. Amyloid-beta has a preference for fish oil. When it finds fish oil it combines eagerly with it and then proceeds to repair daily wear and tear on brain cells and their synapses. If it doesn't find any, because the person fails to consume any, then the brain cells will produce more and more amyloid-beta fibres (monomers).  If this amyloid-beta lies around in the brain fluid for a long time it will go off (oxidizes) and then it will become sticky and form polymers.

Polymers are several fibres stuck together. When three fibres stick together the polymer will display a long tunnel down its length. These polymers will combine with some other fatty acid and then try to do repair work on the brain cells but will only succeed in making a tunnel in the side of the brain cell due to the tunnel in the polymer. This in turn will cause further damage the brain cell.

To prevent this chain of events you should eat more oily fish such as salmon. To break up existing polymers you should consume turmeric extract; the polymers are held together by copper atoms which are plucked away (chelated) by turmeric extract. Consuming only turmeric extract will not result in success because it does not deal with the initial cause of Alzheimer's Disease which is lack of fish oil. Consuming only fish oil without turmeric extract will also fail because the fish oil will become oxidized when it enters a brain environment that is already heavily oxidized. Turmeric extract is a strong anti-oxidant. A mixture of the two will succeed, according to this theory.

A clinical trial should therefore test fish oil and turmeric extract together, not separately. A recent clinical trial of turmeric extract alone and Alzheimer's Disease which failed to find a positive effect is not an adequate test of the proposed theory.

Arthritis: turmeric extract profoundly inhibited joint inflammation and periarticular joint destruction in a dose-dependent manner in animal (non-human) experiments.

Cancer: causes apoptosis (death) of various malignant cell types including skin, colon, forestomach, duodenum and ovary in laboratory studies. We await clinical trials.

Diabetes: turmeric extract reverses many of the inflammatory and metabolic derangements (insulin tolerance) associated with obesity and improves glycemic control in mouse experiments of type 2 diabetes.

Note on Turmeric Benefits (the spice): a study of the elderly in Singapore demonstrated a connection between turmeric/curry consumption and cognitive function. Those who ate curry often (more than once a month) or ate it occasionally (once or more in 6 months) performed significantly better at the Mini-Mental State Examination than did those who ate curry less than once a month. (Source: American Journal of Epidemiology 11/2006.) The nature of the connection has not yet been clearly established but if they are established in the future, then the source of turmeric benefits are close at hand.

Traditional and Modern Uses Of Turmeric Extract

India: it has been in use for centuries both as a component of curry and as a medicine for arthritic and muscular disorders. Indians are thought to consume 80-200 mg per day.

China: it has been used as a topical analgesic, for colic, ringworm, hepatitis and chest pain.

Okinawa (Japan): turmeric tea is known as "Ukoncha" (ウコン茶). It is considered one of the reasons for longevity amongst Okinawans. The Okinawa method is to steep 1-2 teaspoons of turmeric spice in a teapot of hot water for 10 minutes and then strain.

USA, Europe and Australia: it is used in many foods as a coloring in curry, mustard, margarine, cheese, beverages and cakes. In the recent past it has been used for chronic anterior uveitis, Helicobacter pylori bacteria and dyspepsia.

In Dec 2015 there were more than 8384 articles cited by Pubmed on the subject of Curcumin (turmeric extract) including 3178 on cancer, 130 on arthritis, 404 on alzheimer's disease and 356 on diabetes. This demonstrates that curcumin is now being used in new ways. This website has played a leading role in bringing this knowledge to the public.

Dosage and Side Effects of Turmeric Extract

Customary dosage of Turmeric Extract: as a herbal medicine: 2 - 4g per day; as a dietary anti-oxidant: 80-200mg per day (the same amount as Indian daily consumption).

Side Effects of Turmeric Extract: human trials using up to 8g per day for 3 months found no toxicity from turmeric extract. At very high doses stomach upsets, chest tightness, skin rashes, swollen skin are said to occur. A few cases of allergic contact dermatitis have been reported by people working in the turmeric industry. Interactions with NSAIDs, blood thinning agents - consult your doctor; also see note above regarding Piperine. Chronic use can cause liver toxicity: people with liver conditions should avoid use. Not recommended for persons with gallstones, obstructive jaundice and acute biliary colic.

Availability: Turmeric Extract now has a curcuminoid content of 95% plus and is available in 500mg capsules.

Scientific Data on Turmeric Extract

Synonyms: Curcumin, Food Color E100, diferuloylmethane. A common misspelling of Turmeric is "Tumeric"; also "Tumeric Extract".

Other Languages: Haldi (Hindi); Manjal (Tamil); Kunyit (Indonesia); Al-kurkum (الكركم, Arabic); Jiang Huang (姜黄, Chinese); Cúrcuma (French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and Romanian).

Scientific Descriptions: 1,7-Bis(4-hydroxy-3-methoxyphenyl)-1,6-heptadiene-3,5-dione; Chemical Formula: C21H20O6; Molecular Weight: 368.38. Metabolites: (via oral administration) Curcumin-sulphate, Curcumin-glucuronide; (via injection) tetrahydrocurcumin, hexahydrocurcumin and octahydrocurcumin. Catabolites: trans-6-(4′-hydroxy-3′-methoxyphenyl)-2,4-dioxo-5-hexenal (this appears to be the main product), ferulic aldehyde, ferulic acid, feruloyl methane and vanillin. Three Molecular Forms: curcumin, demethoxycurcumin and bisdemethoxycurcumin. Inhibits NFkappaB, 5-lipoxygenase, glutathione S-transferase and cytochrome P-450 isoenzyme 1A1.

Molecular structure: it is a dimer of vanillin (two molecules of vanillin joined together).

curcumin molecule image
molecular structure of curcumin

Turmeric Extract
turmeric extract


turmeric plant
turmeric plant