Whole Turmeric vs. Curcumin Extract

Whole Turmeric vs. Curcumin Extract

Lisa Kilgour, Nutritionist

When it comes to the “pop-culture” of nutrition (a.k.a. nutritional fads), there are some to pay attention to…and many others to ignore. My golden rule of nutrition is – don’t believe the hype!

There is, however, one very popular food that is worth all of the hype. And, happily, it’s an easy one to use as well.

That food is – turmeric.

Whole Turmeric vs. Curcumin Extract


You might not be surprised by my love for turmeric. If you’ve used it regularly you’ll also be singing its praises. It helps relieve joint pain[1], lowers inflammation[2], and is a powerful antioxidant[3].

Yes, it’s really that fantastic.

The problem – there are so many turmeric products and supplements available right now that it can be really confusing. Just walk into any health food store and you’ll see shelf after shelf of turmeric and curcumin supplements. So let’s break it down – what is the best way to take turmeric?

Whole turmeric or curcumin extract?

I get this question a lot; we all want to know which one will be the most effective.

Curcumin is one of the potent medicinal compounds in turmeric. Lots of clinical studies have shown that curcumin is pretty darn amazing and plays a huge role in all of the great health benefits in turmeric.

So, you’ll find many supplements where the curcumin has been extracted from the turmeric and concentrated. More of a good thing is always better…right? Not always, especially in this case.

Curcumin might be a powerhouse, but it doesn’t absorb well on its own. And if you don’t absorb it, then you won’t get all of the benefits.

The studies say – whole is always better[4][5]

While curcumin has been highly studied, new research has been looking at other aspects of turmeric. Like, curcumin-free turmeric. Removing this potent compound seems odd at first, but the results have been really cool.

One of the most exciting things I’ve read in the latest turmeric research is the fact that turmeric keeps all of its amazing benefits even when the curcumin has been removed![6] That’s the sign of a very cool superpower – take away it’s special compound and it keeps all of its medicinal prowess.

Researchers have[7] also found that the other amazing compounds in turmeric play a major role in how much curcumin is absorbed into our body and is used by our cells.

What this means is – whole turmeric has medicinal compounds we haven’t fully discovered yet AND it even helps curcumin be absorbed more readily.

The one downside is, whole turmeric is hard to take in a capsule. It’s too much powder to fit into a reasonable dosage. This is one of the reasons why there are so many curcumin extracts around.

But, I’ve got some great news – there are a few very easy ways to take whole turmeric.

1. Golden Mylk

This delicious drink is originally from India, and is a traditional way of taking a medicinal dose of turmeric everyday.

You can prepare it yourself by combining turmeric, coconut milk, honey, and black pepper. Or, you can just grab 1 tsp of Botanica’s Golden Mylk, it’s already perfectly blended for you. Just add warm coconut milk or hot water and enjoy!

About the Author

Lisa Kilgour, Nutritionist

Lisa Kilgour, Nutritionist

Lisa is on a mission to teach people how to heal themselves, to restore balance to body and well-being through whole food. A specialist in...

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