Turmeric, and its active component curcumin, has become a superstar herb. The spice has long been a component of Indian cuisine, where the plant (Curcuma longa) is native. The high amount of spice in the Indian diet, including curries heavy on turmeric and including black pepper, has long been thought as conferring health benefits, such as the low rate of lifestyle-type disease endemic in North America and Western Europe. The botanical’s anti-inflammatory effects are posited as its main mode of action in exerting these effects.
The growing research backing for the botanical is part of what is driving the popularity of the herb. Researchers are studying the plant both for its health supporting effects as well as for outright disease endpoints, such as its potential anticancer effects. Searches on the PubMed database maintained by the National Institutes of Health show 4,238 studies with ‘turmeric’ as the search term and 10,957 using ‘curcumin.’ A search on Google Trends shows that web searches using either of those terms have steadily risen over time and the rate of that rise is accelerating.
Condition specific benefits, and a commoditization hedge
Dan Countryman, herb category brand manager at Nature’s Way, said the company saw that it was time to capitalize on that trend, as well as deal with increasing competition within the category. Turmeric as a standalone ingredient has become popular to the point of being in danger of becoming commoditized.
“Since 2013, turmeric has dominated the market as the top-selling ingredient in herbal supplements," he said. “As research on turmeric grows, consumers continue to recognize the health benefits of this amazing botanical. At Nature's Way, we're committed to providing a wide selection of best-in-class turmeric standalone offerings and unique targeted formulas such as the new Turmerich products.”
The two new products are built around a 400 mg of standardized, 95% curcumin extract with added ingredients for condition specific action. Those added ingredients are:
In the Turmeric Joint formula: UC-II Collagen complex (a branded ingredient supplied by BioCell Collagen), a standardized Boswellia serrata extract and organic burdock root.
In the Turmerich Heart product, the added ingredients are deodorized garlic, standardized extracts of pomegranate and hawthorn, as well as CoQ10.
Priya Backos, associate brand manager at Nature’s Way, said the new products, which have been on the market since late summer, fill out the company’s product line as well as address rising demand in the marketplace. Standalone turmeric products, while still a key part of the market, are becoming the Ford Focus in a category in which some consumers are wanting to drive Lincolns.
“We felt like this was filling in a gap for us. We have had standardized turmeric products for a while. Consumers are more educated today than they have ever been before, and as they learn more about turmeric they have started to demand new products,” Backos told NutraIngredients-USA.
One key addition to both products has been the use of 10 mg of BioPerine, a standardized black pepper extract offered by Sabinsa. This ingredient has been shown to boost the bioavailability of many hard-to-absorb compounds, including curcumin, by interrupting to some degree a metabolic pathway, so that the compound can be absorbed rather than broken down via digestion. Bioavailability is one of the things more and more consumers are becoming knowledgeable about when it comes to curcumin, Backos said. Indeed, a recent scientific review of curcumin effects noted that BioPerine is showing up in more and more research as a way to better get at a standardized effective dosage.
“With BioPerine, we can increase the absorption and decrease the dosage,” she said.