Study shows advantages of curcumin bioavailability enhancement, company says

By Hank Schultz contact

- Last updated on GMT

Turmeric rhizomes.  Photo courtesy of Pharmako.
Turmeric rhizomes. Photo courtesy of Pharmako.

Related tags: Curcumin, Turmeric

An Australian biotechnology company says new published research proves the absorption advantage provided by its proprietary delivery technology when applied to a curcumin extract.

Called LipiSperse, the technology was developed by Pharmako, which is a Sydney-based firm that develops drug and dietary ingredient delivery systems. The system is unique in the dietary supplement industry in the way it modifies the individual curcumin particles, the company says. 

“We basically coat the curcumin crystals with our Lipisperse technology,”​ George Kokkinis, technical director at Pharmako told NutraIngredients-USA. “It stops the crystals from agglomerating, or sticking together.”

“By keeping the particles separate, they are able to be absorbed through the intestinal wall,” ​said Eric Meppem, the company’s commercial director.

So far, so good. But there are lots of excipients that would claim to maintain a curcumin powder in a free flowing form. What truly sets Lipisperse apart?

How technique differs

Kokkinis said the technology uses molecules that have lipophilic and hydrophilic portions. The lipophilic ends attach to the curcumin crystals, while the hydrophilic tails are presented to the solution. It changes in a fundamental way how the individual crystals behave in solution.

“We are manipulating the contact angle between the crystals and the water molecules,”​ Meppem said. “When that angle is large, the repulsive forces between the curcumin crystals come into play and keep them separate.”

Kokkinis said the way in which curcumin particles agglomerate is characteristic of many ingredients that are not easily dispersible.

“What happens to particles in water is they either love it or hate it.  In depends on that contact angle.  The larger the angle, the more the particle likes water,”​ he said.

When applied to the curcumin extract, the product has been branded as HydroCurc. It is being marketed in North America in conjunction with Gencor Pacific, and was chosen as a finalist in the European analogue​ to the NutraIngredients-USA awards​. It is already on the market via several products in Spain and the UK.

Study details

In the new study, which was published in the European Journal of Nutrition​, Phramako tested the LipiSperse-enhanced curcumin product against the same 95% curcumin extract.

Eighteen healthy male and female volunteers participated in this single equivalent dose, randomized, double-blinded study. Seven of those volunteers further participated in the crossover phase of the trial. Plasma concentrations were determined at baseline and at regular intervals over a 24-hour period following 750 mg of curcuminoid ingestion.

The subjects who took a dose of the HydroCurc version of the curcumin extract showed an almost 2.5 times greater amount of curcuminoids in their blood after ingestion (807 vs 318 ng/mL in the crossover trial).

Small isn’t always more beautiful

HydroCurc and curcumin in water side view 2

Kokkinis said the company is still developing the technology, and one aspect of that effort is to identify the best particle size. Surprisingly, so far it seems ever smaller is not better. That could provide advantages by working well at a size that is easily achieved by most milling technologies.

“We are still looking into what the optimum particle size is.  You would expect the smaller the particle size the better, but that does not seem to be the case. We are finding 20 microns to 30 microns to be a good size for the particles,​” he said.

Meppem said a big advantage of the technology, beyond the bioavailability enhancement, is how little of the Lipisperse coating is needed. HydroCurc is 90% curcuminoids, and 10% Lipisperse. Many other bioavailability approaches delivery 30% or less by weight of actual curcuminoids, he said.

Market interest

Meppem said there is interest for the product in ready to drink beverages, particularly in Japan, where turmeric beverages have been popular for a number of years. And Kokkinis said it provides significant advantages in standard capsule delivery systems.

“We see a real opportunity for HydroCurc and our delivery technology to expand the market. We can put a therapeutic dose into only one capsule and we’ll increase compliance,” he said.

“And the beauty of it is that we can put 400 mg of curcumin into a beverage.  Most of the others have only 10 mg or 20 mg,”​ Kokkinis said. 

Source: European Journal of Nutrition
2018 Jul 4. doi: 10.1007/s00394-018-1766-2. [Epub ahead of print]
“Increased bioavailability of curcumin using a novel dispersion technology system (LipiSperse®).”
Authors: Briskey D, Sax A, Mallard AR, Rao, A

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