Most people are familiar with turmeric as a culinary herb or spice, but not many may know about its potential medicinal value. This herb has a long history of use in traditional medicine in many countries around the world, and it is highly valued in traditional Indian medicine (Ayurveda).
Most of turmeric’s health benefits are attributed to its content of curcumin: the main and most important curcuminoid in turmeric that is responsible for its yellow color.
Curcumin is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound that has been suggested to have many health benefits, such as reducing inflammation, improving arthritis, enhancing brain function, protecting against neurodegenerative disorders (e.g. Alzheimer’s), improving heart health, in addition to other benefits.
There is also some evidence that curcumin can slow down the growth of cancerous cells and may potentially be used to reduce the risk of, or even treat, cancer. However, all of these suggested benefits are based on early preclinical studies that showed promising results but not a conclusive evidence of efficacy.
Results and effectiveness vary from one individual to another and some people may not notice any significant change when supplementing with this herb, although consuming it frequently, whether in supplement form (curcumin) or the raw spice (turmeric), can promote long-term health and wellness.
The raw turmeric powder contains a very small amount of curcumin — only about 3% by weight. Some supplements on the market use the raw powder in their formulas, which may not be very effective as you’ll have to consume a large amount to obtain a significant dose of curcumin.
Many branded formulas use a turmeric extract that is standardized to contain a high percentage of curcumin. But even these extracts may not have a significant effect due to the fact that curcumin is poorly absorbed into the bloodstream and has a low bioavailability.
In order to improve the absorption and bioavailability of curcumin and help deliver it to different parts of the body more efficiently, several formulations of this compound have been developed using nanotechnology. These utilize nanoparticles, liposomes, or phospholipid complexes in order to create very tiny microscopic particles of curcumin (measured in nanometers).
These nanoparticles can more easily disperse in water and are absorbed by the body at a higher rate, providing superior bioavailability compared to ordinary curcumin powders.
One of the most popular formulations of curcumin that use nanoparticle technology is called Theracurmin.
What is Theracurmin?
Theracurmin is a branded curcumin compound that was developed by Theravalues Corp: a Japanese pharmaceutical company that focuses on the development of natural, food-sourced medicine.
Through the use of colloidal nanoparticles, Theracurmin is able to quickly and efficiently disperse in water. A study sponsored by the manufacturer has shown it has 27-fold higher oral bioavailability compared to ordinary curcumin powder. Although there doesn’t seem to be an independent, third-party proof of this claim.
Theracurmin is probably the most expensive form of curcumin supplements I have ever seen, and its main selling point is that it has significantly better bioavailability and absorption. Several manufacturers use this specific brand in their curcumin supplements, and one the most popular of these is a product called Theracurmin HP.
Studies on Theracurmin
There are a few preclinical studies on Theracurmin that showed promising results regarding its therapeutic potential. Most of these studies seem to be sponsored by the manufacturer, which is usually the case with branded formulations.
- A 2011 study found that Theracurmin had significantly higher bioavailability (27-fold higher) than ordinary curcumin powder.
- A 2014 study concluded that 8-week supplementation with Theracurmin by patients with osteoarthritis resulted in modest improvement and reduced pain.
- A 2017 study also found that supplementation with Theracurmin, combined with exercise, alleviated symptoms of knee osteoarthritis.
- A 2016 study noted potential anticancer effects of Theracurmin against bladder cancer cells.
- A 2018 study investigating the effects of long-term Theracurmin intake concluded that it can potentially improve cognitive functions like memory and attention. You can find a summary of this study in an article at the mental health resource center; Psych Central (https://psychcentral.com/news/2018/01/24/curry-ingredient-may-improve-memory/131659.html).
- A 2019 study suggested that Theracurmin may ameliorate cognitive decline and protect brain cells from oxidative damage.
- And finally, another 2019 study found that Theracurmin can be beneficial in the treatment of fatty liver.
In addition to these Theracurmin-specific studies, many other studies investigated the potential medicinal effects of generic curcumin supplements.
What is Theracurmin HP?
Theracurmin HP is a dietary supplement that contains 300 mg of Theracurmin (30% curcumin) per capsule (or 600 mg per serving of 2 capsules). It is manufactured by Integrative Therapeutics: a reputable supplement manufacturer based in Green Bay, WI.
What sets Theracurmin HP apart from other brands that offer Theracurmin is the high dosage per capsule they provide. I’ve seen other brands offer 30 mg per capsule, i.e. only 10% of what you get in each capsule of Integrative Therapeutics’ Theracurmin HP. This probably explains why it’s so pricey compared to other brands.
As a matter of fact, the dosage they use is so high that I’d recommend you only take 1 capsule a day instead of the recommended serving of 2 capsules. Consuming too much curcumin can cause some unpleasant side effects like nausea, headache, diarrhea and digestive issues. If you experience any such side effects then it’s a sign you need to lower the dosage. Of course, using it under the direction of a health care professional is always advised.