How important are higher levels of absorption of curcumin in the blood?
And is there ever a point where it just doesn’t make a difference or make sense to have a higher absorption of curcumin in the blood beyond a certain level?
Curcumin, regardless of its blood levels, will not have a powerful effect stored in the blood when it’s the cells that require the curcumin to have a biological effect.
Curcumin BCM-95 with 25 published studies – including 11 human clinical trials - has proven it has a huge biological effect.
Curcumin BCM-95 has an absorption of up to 10 times better than plain curcumin and also has up to 12 hours of blood retention time. There are other curcumin products on the market that are now 27 times, 29 times, and even one with 185 times increased absorption of curcumin, but for a much shorter blood retention time. They have high absorption levels but may not have sufficient blood levels when the cells open their doors to allow curcumin in at the cellular level. And isn’t that where we want the curcumin… in the cell… not just in the blood? Building up a higher level of curcumin in the blood temporarily cannot continuously feed the cells when the cells call for it. Having a higher blood absorption is like having a fire hose filled with water ready to put out the fire but unable to turn on the nozzle, lots of water in the hose but not reaching the fire. Having high blood levels of curcumin but unable to deliver it to the cells, makes higher blood levels of little value. The real proof of efficacy is the 25 published studies on BCM-95.
Think of it this way.
An analogy would be that the blood is a warehouse of nutrients, or in this case curcumin, and the cell is the retail store. The warehouse has all the “extra” stock that the retail store doesn’t need at the moment, but as soon as stock gets low, the store gets another delivery from the warehouse to stay topped up. But if there is insufficient blood retention time, there will be no curcumin available when the cells open their doors to restock.
Some companies are so desperate to get the highest number of absorption to hype in their marketing that they have selected a synthetic ingredient to increase absorption.
They bind curcumin with polysorbate 80, which can have damaging effects to the colon. The level they are using is far and above the allowed safety level based on FDA regulations.
How can we, as honest health food store retailers, push such a product on our customers? Our industry is under the microscope of many State Attorney Generals and Congressmen for selling spiked and adulterated products. Let’s not give them more fuel.
We should also mention black pepper as an ingredient to increase absorption. Black pepper DOES NOT increase absorption. Some companies add black pepper to increase absorption since it so inexpensive and consumers are unaware that it is actually concentrated piperine extract from black pepper that has been shown to increase absorption, and not black pepper.
While piperine does increase absorption it has a very short blood retention time. It is not in the blood long enough to be available when the cells need it. Piperine was developed in India over 30 years ago before there was enough science to understand the serious side effects associated with piperine. There are 17 studies that connect the use of piperine to liver disorders and drug interactions.
Piperine can interfere with many medications, including digoxin (heart rhythm drug), verapamil (high blood pressure and angina), cyclosporine (anti-rejection drug for transplant patients), phenytoin (anti-seizure), and rifampin (anti-tuberculosis). Piperine also increases the absorption of dietary toxins such as aflatoxin, which is a known carcinogen. The safe dosage determined by the FDA for a GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) listing is 13 mg daily. I recently saw a formula including piperine at 20 mg per serving, with a recommendation of 3 servings daily for a total of 75 mg daily of piperine.