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Turmeric Truth... Does it REALLY need the Black Pepper?

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Contrary to the many opinions, over priced and over marketed products, the Turmeric Truth is that black pepper is absolutely NOT needed!

Turmeric has a long long history of successful use.   Dedication in all the important pharmacopoeias. Hundreds of years of anecdotal evidence. Many hundreds of modern clinical studies.  And it's high on the list of medical herbalists and nutritionists alike.


Why Black Pepper?

The black pepper idea in contrast is new, and comes primarily from just one study in 1998.

And it is absolutely essential to understand this was a trial using extracted CURCUMIN, not Turmeric.  Curcumin is just one of over 200 nutrients found within Turmeric. It is valuable yes, but it is the sum of all the parts that makes Turmeric such a master healer.

The bioavailablilty was increased, but it is because of the way the body sees isolated Curcumin alone that it trys to deactivate it, so the pepper reduced the impact of this in the study. You can also increase absorption by putting it in soy and microcrystalline Cellulose! But this is exactly why we do not advocate curcumin on its own, but rather whole herb turmeric which the body can absorb naturally like a food.   


Are Turmeric and Curcumin the Same?

You will very often see the terms Turmeric and Curcumin interchangeably, they are NOT the same thing at all.  And the way the act as supplements is quite different.

To isolate a single nutrient (such as Curcumin) from a food is quite a process involving chemicals and heat that denature a food.  This is like processed food, just in supplement form!

Isn't it strange how man wants to interfere with nature, strip it of the health giving properties, add chemical solvents, then want to add other ingredients to make it work, when in fact it worked perfectly well in the first place?


Whole Herb Wins

We supply a pure whole herb Turmeric powder (in vegecaps) so you get ALL the benefits from ALL the nutrients.  Not just one of the components in a synthetic isolated form. Likewise, medical herbalists always prefer whole herbs to pharmaceutical extracts - they are safer and with far broader benefits.

Like ALL whole herbs, a natural whole herb turmeric is gentle on the system, balanced, but effective.  In comparsion, high dose Curcumin has greater potential for side effects (although generally well tolerated) such as being too strong on a sensitive stomach.  And as highlighted, it is certainly harder for the body to absorb by its very islolated nature.

Curcumin is highly beneficial for anti-inflammatory properties especially.  But so is for example ar-turmerone is a major bioactive compound in Turmeric that scientists believe may help neurodegenerative disease.  But again there are many, many nutrients, all with benefits, all working together. These are just two examples. 

It's also interesting to note, that a whole herb Turmeric has its own natural oils which assist absorption, you don't need to add coconut oil (one of the other internet myths).  Although Coconut Oil is fabulous and so good for you.

Going back to the black pepper. Certainly the study is interesting.  But to us, the value is very limited as we never use isolated synthetic extracts.  And the suggestion that WHOLE HERB Turmeric cannot be absorbed without the use of black pepper is ludicrous.

Studies indicating poor absorption of Curcumin may have some grounds, but it is the isolated denatured compound , with limited nutritional value that's the issue.  Which brings us back to whole herb Turmeric always being best!


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More Turmeric Talk



Shoba G. (1998). Influence of piperine on the pharmacokinetics of Curcumin in animals and human volunteers. Planta med. 64 (4), 353-6

Comparative absorption of curcumin formulations. Ralf JägerEmail author, Ryan P Lowery, Allison V Calvanese, Jordan M Joy, Martin Purpura and Jacob M Wilson

Aromatic-turmerone induces neural stem cell proliferation in vitro and in vivo.  Joerg Hucklenbroich, Rebecca Klein, Bernd Neumaier, Rudolf Graf, Gereon Rudolf Fink, Michael Schroeter, and Maria Adele Rueger

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