Turmeric Adulteration

August 10, 2018 at 4:54 pm Leave a comment

By Dr. Jen Palmer, Naturopathic Doctor (ND) & NEEDS Education Director

tumeric-powder-root-1296x728One of the most popular dietary supplements on the market today is curcumin, the active compound from the Indian herb turmeric. Some authorities report that it’s been the number one selling supplement for the past five years, and that’s a well-deserved status. Curcumin has been extensively researched and proven to be effective for a multitude of health conditions. It reduces inflammation and has been shown to significantly improve symptoms of osteoarthritis (joint pain).

In one study, a group of patients with arthritis took curcumin supplements with their medication and felt significantly greater relief from pain as compared to patients that just took the medication alone. It is also a potent antioxidant and can support the liver in detoxification. Curcumin has the advantage of being able to cross the blood-brain barrier, meaning it has the ability to protect the brain from free radical damage and potentially reduce the risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, as shown in several studies. In fact, in India where turmeric is used abundantly as a spice in foods, Alzheimer’s rates are significantly lower than in the United States.

The downside of an herb becoming this popular and in such high demand, is that unscrupulous raw material suppliers may adulterate the herb in order to make it more profitable for themselves. Historically, there have been examples of this occurring in the industry, such as with goldenseal. Goldenseal is expensive, so dishonest raw material suppliers would try to pass off less expensive herbs of the same golden color as the more expensive goldenseal.

Turmeric sales have doubled between 2013 and 2016, and as a result, it has fallen prey to unscrupulous practices as well. The American Botanical Council recently published a bulletin on this topic as part of the Botanical Adulterants Prevention Program in cooperation with the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia and the National Center for Natural Products Research. What they found is that some raw suppliers are adding cheap, synthetic curcuminoids to natural supplements to increase their profits. One of the authors of the bulletin stated, “The adulteration of this plant species is an extensive, complex, and multifactorial enterprise driven by economic incentive within the food ingredient category.”

Sadly, basic testing cannot differentiate between synthetic and natural curcuminoids. It requires expensive carbon isotope testing to distinguish the fake from the natural. Visually, the fake and real products may appear to be identical through the use of colorants. These colorants may pose a health risk considering that some are derived from lead chromate or metanil yellow. The typical curcumin user may take a gram or more of the supplement per day, meaning it could add up to ingesting a large quantity of toxic colorants.

The take home message here is that it is wise to purchase curcumin from brands that can be trusted. It is very important that a manufacturer takes the steps necessary to ensure that proper testing of the curcumin raw material is completed and to only source from reputable raw material suppliers. We’ve done the research for you and feel confident in recommending the curcumin products found on our website: https://www.needs.com/prod_detail_list/htc_Curcumin.

These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

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