“One of nature’s greatest gifts to mankind”: Curcumin/turmeric’s staggering growth in supplements and beyond

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT


Related tags Curcumin Shaheen majeed

After establishing itself as the number one herb, turmeric/curcumin is increasingly moving into functional beverages.

Turmeric and curcumin were everywhere in the supplement aisles at the Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim recently with many companies launching products with the ingredient. Turmeric was also highly visible in the food and beverage aisles with the Tu Me Beverage Co expanding its turmeric-infused water range, Tu Me Water, with two new flavors (Turmeric Coconut Water and Turmeric Water Pomegranate).

“Turmeric, which we think of as one of nature’s greatest gifts to mankind, has gained its much-deserved recognition through research,” ​Shaheen Majeed, Marketing Director, Sabinsa told NutraIngredients-USA. “With over 7500 scientific studies, about 10% of which are human clinicals, the confidence and awareness that consumers have in this natural compound has led to its use in support and management of several health conditions. It has grown to become one of the most popular, well documented and accepted natural supplements for general health and wellness today.”

“With the body of science on Curcumin continually growing, additional health benefits being identified, and advances in delivery system options, we see the market for Curcumin continuing to expand. While there are many, many dietary supplement containing Curcumin on the market, we believe it has a bright future in functional beverages as well.”

However, curcumin’s poor solubility makes formulating into functional beverages a challenge. To overcome this, approaches to improve the solubility include the use of polymeric substances, nano particle synthesis, lipophilic formulations and more.

Sabinsa has developed a convenient delivery system for curcumin called uC3 CLEAR that overcomes the basic challenges and limitations that can be present with solid dosage delivery systems, said Majeed. “It is a compatible form of curcuminoids in beverages that is both water soluble and visually appealing,”​ he said.


Majeed noted that curcuminoids have been traditionally used and documented in the Ayurvedic medical system for their role as an antimicrobial and for other chronic diseases like asthma, cough, allergic rhinitis, urinary disorders, jaundice, diarrhea, biliary disorders, anorexia, diabetic wounds, sprains and swellings caused by injury.

“In the modern world, with in-depth knowledge regarding its mechanism of action as a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent, the role of curcumin has been recognized and established in a number of health conditions,” ​he said. “Having undergone metamorphosis from crude turmeric powder to standardized enriched extracts of curcuminoids, it has come a long way in establishing its use as a general health and wellness product.”


Focusing on supplements, many suppliers are offering curcumin ingredients, with many using bioavailability as a differentiator.

For example, Sabinsa’s C3 Reduct ingredient is standardized to 95% tetrahydrocurcuminoids. The company’s original Curcumin C3 Complex is a combination of curcuminoids with its bioavailability-enhancer BioPerine, derived from black pepper.

Italian botanical giant Indena uses dietary phospolipids to prevent the self-aggregation problem and substantially increase the absorption. The company’s Meriva branded ingredient takes advantage of a technology called Phytosome.

EuroPharma also offers bioavailable curcumin ingredient BCM-95 (DolCas Biotech), which is produced by a patented process that increases the bioavailability of plain curcumin up to 10 times, the company has said. This is achieved by micronizing curcumin powder and then blending it with essential oils from turmeric. EuroPharma features the BCM-95 ingredient in curcumin products aimed at pain relief and healthy immune response and healthy inflammation response support.

Verdure Sciences offers the “optimized” Longvida curcumin, which is produced using the patented SLCP Technology (US Patent 9,192,644​). The product’s efficacy for reducing inflammation and muscle damage after excessive exercise were recently reported in BBA Clinical​(2016, Vol. 5, pp. 72-78), while its potential to improve vascular endothelial function in middle-aged and older adults were published in The Gerontologist​ (2015, Vol.  55 (Suppl 2), pp. 195).

Longvida won the 2015 NutraIngredients Award for 'University Research of the Year' for the study “Investigation of the effects of solid lipid curcumin on cognition and mood in a healthy older population”​ performed by scientists from Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia (Journal of Psychopharmacology​, 2015, Volume 29, pp. 642-651).

Wacker offers a cyclodextrin-curcumin formulation, with data from a clinical trial reportedly showing that the formulation increases the bioavailability of curcumin by a factor of 45 compared to conventional curcumin extract.

Supplement heavyweight NBTY is also very excited about curcumin, and launched a product under its Solgar brand last year which uses a technology to increases the bioavailability of curcumin 185 times.

OmniActive Health Technologies launched a highly bioavailable curcumin called CurcuWIN, which uses the company’s UltraSOL technology.


OmniActive is trying to differentiate the CurcuWin product with efficacy data in healthy populations, Brian Appell, Market Development Manager at OmniActive, told us at Expo West 2016. Results of a new study will be presented at the upcoming Experimental Biology meeting in San Diego which show that 200 mg of CurcuWin can improve endothelial function in healthy young subjects (The FASEB Journal​, Vol. 30, No. 1, Supplement lb340​).

Other clinical trials are indicating that the ingredient may also have potential for a range of new conditions, including metabolic syndrome, a condition characterized by central obesity, hypertension, and disturbed glucose and insulin metabolism. The syndrome has been linked to increased risks of both type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases (for example, Panahi et al. Clinical Nutrition​, 2015, Vol. 34, pp. 1101–1108​ (performed using Sabinsa's curcumin) & Yang et al. Phytotherapy Research, ​Vol. 28, pp. 1770–1777).

All of these factors are contributing to making curcumin one of the fastest growing ingredients in the sector.

Sabinsa is experiencing “astaggering 53% growth year over year”​ in curcumin sales, said Majeed. “Weonly see this continuing as more and more evidence based research comes out on our brand, plus our cultivation & sustainable efforts for the turmeric fields, working with over 6,000 farmers - all make for an impactful ingredient story that carries forward incredible health attributes.”

“The curcumin market will keep getting bigger,”​ said Appell. “There is a tremendous amount of consumer interest in the ingredient and curcumin is not just an inflammatory product anymore.”

The Healthy and Natural Show 


Organic India's Amy Keller will present an introduction to Ayurveda: The Science of Life at the upcoming Healthy and Natural Show at Chicago's Navy Pier, May 5-7, 2016. For more information and to register, please click HERE​. 

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