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Curcumin is a well studied and versatile supplement, with a wide variety of benefits – and it’s one of my favorites.  This post is one of the most comprehensive on the internet.

Executive Summary of Curcumin


Curcumin is beneficial in:

Note that turmeric is not bioavailable and you won’t be getting the benefits of curcumin when taking turmeric, although you might be getting other benefits. You need to take a bioavailable form of Curcumin (or Curcumin).

Introduction to Curcumin

Turmeric (Curcuma Longa), most commonly known as the spice found in Curry, is not only known for its flavor, but its innumerable health benefits.

Turmeric contains several major constituents known as Curcuminoids which typically make up about 3% of its weight in commercially available preparations (R).

Curcumin is known to be the most active phytochemical of the four curcuminoids found in turmeric.  Curcumin makes up 77% of the curcuminoids (R).  The remaining three constituents typically come in at 17% desmethoxycurcumin, 3% bisdemethoxycurcumin, and the remaining, a fourth more recently identified curcuminoid, Cyclocurcumin (R).

Curcumin Snapshot


  • Great for reducing all kinds of inflammation, especially those with an overactive immune system
  • Great for cancer
  • Good for detoxing (heavy metals and fluoride)


  • Has anti-fertility effects
  • Doesn’t absorb through the gut or brain barrier well (if it’s not this brand)
  • Doesn’t taste good, but this brand has no taste

1-2) Curcumin Helps Your Gut

Curcumin stimulates your gallbladder to release bile (R).

Bioavailable Curcumin helps with stomach ulcers by inhibiting stomach acid secretion and inhibiting the activity of pepsin (RR2).

3-6) Curcumin Fights Autoimmunity: Multiple Sclerosis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Psoriasis, and IBD

Curcumin ameliorates multiple sclerosis (MS), rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and inflammatory bowel disease in human and animal models (R).

Curcumin helps in the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease (R, R2), and appears to be safe and effective in maintaining remission in patients with inactive ulcerative colitis (R).

In patients with rheumatoid arthritis, dosing at 500mg curcumin + diclofenac sodium was found to be effective (R).

In Lupus patients, short-term turmeric supplementation decreases blood and protein in the urine along with systolic blood pressure (R).

Curcumin protects against autoimmune diabetes (R).

Curcumin inhibits autoimmune diseases by reducing inflammatory cytokines such as IL-1beta, IL-6, IL-12, TNF-alpha and IFN-gamma and associated JAK-STAT and NF-kappaB signaling pathways in immune cells (R).

7-9) Curcumin is Anti-Viral, Anti-Bacterial & Anti-Fungal

I’ve already discussed how curcumin inhibits biofilms and quorum sensing. I’ve also discussed how curcumin is capable of activating the vitamin D receptor, which is important for combating infections.

Curcumin also shows anti-viral activity against influenzaadenovirus, coxsackievirus, HIV, and reduces hepatitis C gene expression (R).

As an antifungal agent, curcumin (+ piperine) shows activity against Candida albicans, inhibiting hyphae development (R) (R, R2, R3).

Curcumin protects against septicemia in mice exposed to the pathogenic bacteria responsible for cholera and reduces mortality rates (R, ).

Curcumin combined with antibiotics helps decrease lung inflammation in Pneumoniae (R).

10-11) Curcumin is Good For The Brain

One of the most interesting things curcumin does for the brain is it increases DHA (R).

Curcumin elevates levels of enzymes involved in the synthesis of DHA from ALA in both liver and brain tissues (R).

This is significant because even Fish oil/DHA supplements often don’t increase DHA in the brain.

Curcumin is protective against cell death in brain injuries caused by rapid blood return (reperfusion(R).

Bioavailable Curcumin used in brain hemorrhaging improves neurological function and reduces brain water content (R).

In spinal cord injury, curcumin inhibited cell death and neuron loss, and significantly improved neurologic deficit seven days after injury (R).

Curcumin dramatically counteracts the cognitive impairment caused by Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), reduces oxidative damage and normalizes levels of BDNFsynapsin I, and CREB (R).

In an animal model of dementia, curcumin prevented memory lossrestored healthy glutathione levels, restored insulin receptor protein levels, and reduced oxidative stress overall (R).

Curcumin helps the brain, in part, by inhibiting GSK3b (R).

Alzheimer’s / Neurogenesis

Bioavailable Curcumin helps create new brain cells in adults and reverses cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s disease.

Curcumin was found effective in reducing amyloid plaque (R).

Curcumin (+ piperine) showed strong neuroprotective activity against quinolinic acid-induced neurodegeneration (R), which is caused by inflammation and emotional stress.

Curcumin improves learning and spatial memory in adult and aged mice by increasing BDNF and CREB (RR2).

Curcumin can stimulate developmental and adult hippocampal neurogenesis, neural plasticity and repair (R).

12-13) Curcumin Protects Against Stress & Depression

Like the prescription antidepressant imipramine, curcumin promotes the development of new cells in the hippocampus in chronically stressed rats, while simultaneously protecting BDNF stores (R).

Curcumin (+piperine) enhances the effects of SSRIs and SNRI antidepressants in mice (R).

Curcumin significantly improved sustained attention, working memory, and mood in a healthy older population (R).

It reduces depressive symptoms in patients with major depression (R).

Curcumin has an antidepressant-like effect in animal models of depression (R),  with an increase in hippocampal BDNF (RR2).

It also lowered blood cortisol levels and increased cortisol sensitivity (increased Glucocorticoid Receptor Expression) (R).

Curcumin’s anti-depressant effect may work in part via the 5HT2C receptor (R).

14-15) Curcumin Protects Against Metal Toxicity and Fluoride

Curcumin decreases inflammatory markers in copper-overloaded rats and reduces aluminum-induced inflammatory responses in rat brains (R, R2). 

Curcumin protects against DNA damage from arsenic and reduces ROS generation and lipid peroxidation and increases antioxidant activity in human studies (R).

Curcumin reduces tissue mercury concentrations (R).

In mercury-exposed rats, curcumin reduces oxidative stress and other negative biochemical changes (R).

Curcumin may be effective as pre-treatment to mercury intoxication in the liver, kidney, and brain (R).

Curcumin is protective against selenium toxicity in the liver and kidneys (R).

Curcumin protects against the genotoxic effects of arsenic and fluoride (R).

Treatment with curcumin in iron-overloaded rats resulted in a marked decreased iron accumulation in the liver and spleen, while simultaneously restoring antioxidant levels (R).

Curcumin has also been found to ameliorate the neurodegenerative effects of fluoride on the brain (R).

16-19) Curcumin Helps Treat Obesity, Diabetes, Libido, Cataracts and Increase Muscle Tissue

Bioavailable forms of curcumin can cause weight loss in overweight individuals (R).

Curcumin enhances erectile function in diabetic male rats (R).

Curcumin lowers blood sugar, improves insulin sensitivity, reduces urine sugar and in some mice, it reversed diabetes (RR2).

Curcumin lowers blood sugar by stimulating insulin secretion from pancreatic cells (R). It also helps in pancreatic regeneration (R).

It helps improve muscular insulin resistance in rats (R) and prevents insulin resistance and obesity (R).

Curcumin improved leptin sensitivity in rats with fructose-induced fatty livers (hepatic steatosis), lowering LDL cholesterol and triglycerides (R).

It inhibits obesity-induced inflammation (R).

Curcumin improves cardiovascular function and reduces oxidative stress in diabetic patients (R).

Bioavailable Curcumin delays cataract development in diabetic rats (R).

It alleviates diabetic cardiomyopathy in diabetic rats (R).

Studies show curcumin lessens diabetic complications in rat brains, slowing mitochondrial dysfunction (R).

A nine-month curcumin intervention significantly lowers the chances that prediabetes develops into Type II diabetes, simultaneously improving overall function of pancreatic cells (R).

Curcumin activates AMPK in muscle leading to increased glucose uptake (R) and inhibiting new growth and formation of fat cells (RR2).

Curcumin is also therapeutic for muscle tissue generation and accelerated healing after injury (R).

Curcumin significantly lowered inflammatory markers in rat pancreatitis (R).

20) Curcumin is Anti-aging

Age-related diseases (Alzheimer‘s, atherosclerosis, metabolic disorders, etc.) are caused in large part by chronic low-grade inflammation and oxidative stress (ROS).  This leads to molecular damage and DNA replication errors.

Curcumin is a powerful anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory agent. It inhibits release of cytokines (IL-1, IL-6, TNF-alpha) that are responsible for the inflammation. Aging slows when inflammation is reduced (R).

21-22) Curcumin is an Antioxidant and an Anti-inflammatory

Curcumin is an oxygen radical scavenger. It acts as an antioxidant through increasing glutathione levels, and as an anti-inflammatory agent through inhibition of IL-8 (in lung cells) (R).

Curcumin inhibits enzymes which are responsible for mediating inflammation (R).

Curcumin treatment was found to be protective against oxidative stress, especially through inhibiting lipid peroxidation and increasing levels of glutathione, superoxide dismutase (SOD), and catalase activities in the kidney, liver, and brain (R).

Curcumin binds to iron, which is one mechanism by which it combats free radicals

In rats exposed to TCDD dioxin (found in Agent Orange), curcumin was shown to increase SOD activities of the liver, kidney and brain, catalase (CAT) activity of the heart, and glutathione peroxidase (GPx) in the heart and brain (R).

Curcumin’s anti-cancer activity on pre-cancerous lesions is through increasing levels of vitamins C & E and preventing lipid peroxidation and DNA damage (R).

Curcumin can switch genes on and off through its interactions with various enzymes (HDACs, HATs, DNMT I and miRNAs) (R).

Curcumin is a more potent anti-inflammatory than aspirin and ibuprofen and is comparable to corticosteroid therapy in inflammatory eye diseases (R, R2).

It decreases elevated blood inflammatory markers (IL-8, IL-10, and TNF-α) in rabbits after cardiopulmonary bypass (R).

Curcumin significantly reduced oxidative stress and inflammatory marker (TNF-α) levels in a mouse model of chronic fatigue and prostate inflammation (RR2).

Curcumin suppresses IL-18 (R), reduces PAI-1 (RR2) and inhibits mTOR in a unique way (R, R2).

Curcumin induces tolerance to proteins by increasing Tregs (R, R2, R3).

Curcumin inhibits mast cells (R), but also decreases DAO, which can increase histamine (R).

23-25) Curcumin Supports Women’s Health (PMS, HPV, Cervical Cancer)

Curcumin is beneficial in reducing the severity of PMS (R, R2).

Curcumin applied in a multi-herb cream had a clearance rate of 81.3% in cervical HPV infection (R).

Bioavailable Curcumin and curcumin combined with ultrasound is an effective treatment for cervical cancer by inhibiting cell growth, inducing cell death, and arrests the cell cycle (RR2).

26) Curcumin Helps Joint Problems

Curcumin may regenerate cartilage and was preferred by patients over analgesic and anti-inflammatory drugs (R).

Curcumin reduces symptoms of osteoarthritis (R). A three-month treatment of 200mg/day of the curcumin-phosphatidylcholine complex decreased pain scores by 58% and increased walking distance by over 400% in osteoarthritis (R).

27-33) Curcumin Fights Cancer (Breast, Colon, Leukemia, Lung, Prostate, Pancreatic, Brain)

Curcumin has been shown to not only reduce the growth of new blood vessels in tumors (R), but also induce programmed cell death in human malignant brain cancer (glioblastoma) cells (R), oral cancer cells (R), T-cell lymphoma cells. (R), bone– (R), brain– (R), and melanoma cancer cells (R).

Curcumin is toxic against cancer cell mitochondria, which is important for its anticancer effect (R).

Curcumin stops the growth of malignant cells in oral cancer but doesn’t affect normal cells (R).

Breast cancer

Curcumin and piperine may prevent breast cancer by inhibiting breast stem cell self-renewal (R).

In a trial of breast cancer in humans, curcumin given orally at a dose of 6 g/day was found to improve the efficacy of the breast cancer treatment (R).

Colon cancer

Curcumin activates the nuclear vitamin D receptor, which is associated with chemoprotection against intestinal cancers (R).

In patients with colorectal cancer, ingesting 6g curcumin achieves medically effective levels in the colorectum with negligible distribution outside the gut (R).

The combination of curcumin and quercetin appears to reduce the number and size of ileal and rectal adenomas which typically lead to cancer in FAP (Familial adenomatous polyposis) (R).


Curcumin is effective against leukemia, with no danger to normal cells (R). Curcumin combined with the green tea extract, EGCG (epigallocatechin-3-gallate), promotes cell death in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (R).

Lung Cancer

In Lung cells, curcumin acts as an oxygen radical scavenger, an antioxidant (through modulation of glutathione levels), and an anti-inflammatory agent through inhibition of IL-8 (R).

Curcumin has been shown to activate programmed cell death (R), as well as inhibit lung cancer growth, through mitochondrial pathways (R, R2, R3).

Curcumin works against lung cancer cells by stopping the cell cycle (R). Curcumin also promotes programmed cell death in human lung cancer with multi-drug resistance (R).

Dietary curcumin at 5% concentration decreases radiation-induced lung fibrosis while not lessening the effectiveness of the radiation against tumor cells. It also significantly improved survival in mouse studies (R).

Prostate cancer

Of seven tested phytoestrogens, curcumin was found to be the most potent inhibitor of cancer cell growth while also inducing cell death in human prostate tumor cells (R), through mitochondrial cancer cell damage (R).

Pancreatic Cancer

Bioavailable Curcumin blocks tumor growth and metastases in preclinical models of pancreatic cancer (R).

Brain Cancer

Curcumin works synergistically with chemotherapy in the treatment of Glioblastoma, a highly aggressive brain cancer, to improve results (RR2).

34-35) Curcumin Benefits Liver Health (From Alcohol and Aflatoxin)

By reducing inflammation and lipid peroxidation and increasing antioxidant enzymes, curcumin prevents alcohol-induced oxidative stress (R) and has been shown to prevent liver disease (RR2, R3).

Curcumin protects the liver from aflatoxin (R).

36) Curcumin Protects Your Kidneys

A turmeric-based diet protected against kidney injury in rats (R).

Curcumin can prevent Tylenol overdose-induced damage to kidney cells (R).

37) Curcumin Helps Your Eyes (Cataracts, Dry Eyes)

Curcumin prevents cataracts in animal models (R).

Curcumin may have therapeutic potential for dry eye (R).

Safety and Dosage

Curcumin has been found to be safe to consume without side effects up to 10g/day (R).

I recommend ingesting 1-2g in the morning, upon awakening.

Potential Risks and Side Effects

In High Dose In-Vitro Models, Curcumin Can Cause Cytotoxicity and DNA Damage

At low doses (as shown in many studies above) it acts as a potent antioxidant, scavenging ROS.  At high doses it is suggested that it may actually induce ROS, leading to DNA damage (R).

Many of the concerns regarding curcumin toxicity are addressed in this letter (R).

As a quick summation of the article, although worth the read, the first issue addressed is that many of these studies are done in-vitro. Meaning done in a test tube, outside of a living breathing organism.

With curcumin being extensively metabolized in the intestine (R), raising blood plasma levels by oral consumption to meet levels administered in the lab test tubes, at this point in time have not been achieved in the body (in vivo).  It is also important to note that many studies (also included above) have already shown consumption of 10g/day (that’s a lot) with no negative side effects (RR2).

Additionally, to obtain higher levels of solubility, Curcumin was dissolved using ethanol as a solvent. Against controls, it is unclear if the toxicity and damage to the DNA is due to the curcumin, ethanol, or curcumin+ethanol.

The authors write ‘The DNA damage described by Goodpasture and Arrighi, and others, therefore, cannot be possibly due to the binding of curcumin to DNA or its intercalation into DNA‘ (R).

But they do express the interest to see the effect high levels of curcumin on DNA would be if solubilized in water + heat as opposed to curcumin + organic solvents.


Curcumin may inhibit enzymes involved in the final step of testosterone synthesis.  This could potentially lead to a reduction in testosterone levels at very high concentration. However, the significance of this effect is unclear (R).

The same study states that because humans can consume up to 8 grams of turmeric per day without apparent side effects, consuming curcumin orally may not increase curcumin levels in the blood enough to inhibit testosterone synthesis.

Parkinson’s Disease

In vitro, curcumin increases LRRK2 mRNA and protein. LRRK2 is a gene whose expression has been positively associated with Parkinson’s disease. This could, in theory, lead to increased risk of Parkinson’s disease. However, this study suggests this is only one factor of many, including age and genetic predisposition (R).


Adding piperine (from black pepper) increases the absorption of curcumin in the blood by 2000% (R).

Curcumin Technical


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  • Richard Geldreich

    I have a very sensitive GI tract, having healed from SIBO over the past few years. I’ve tried all the major types of curcumin, and Theracurmin is by far the most absorbable and most potent form I’ve tried. Every other type of curcumin causes issues with my GI tract. I’ve found that 60mg of Theracurmin is equivalent to around 1.5 grams of regular (non-absorbable) curcumin. Theracurmin is the most potent anti-inflammatory I’ve tried and doesn’t bother my GI tract at all.

    I cannot take any form of Piperidine, it’s too rough on my GI tract.

  • Ben


    i’ve tried the various forms – curcumin, turmeric & curcubrain.
    But I always end up with serious brain fog even with a small dose 50mg curcumin
    Does any body else experience this or know what’s going on?

  • Vivien


    Have someone tried UltraCür curcumin here with curcumin associated into whey protein scaffold ?

    Thank you.

  • Annette

    Why do you recommend taking it upon arising?

  • Mina

    My experience with Curcumin has been great EXCEPT the inital herx/die off reaction. I had no idea this stuff was so powerful. It would be worth mentioning to everyone to start off slow. I started off taking three capsules a day in a tall glass of coconut milk. 4 days later, my skin broke out in very weird acne, in weird places (I’m 40 years old!) I felt hungover, very depressed, foggy headed, my skin was itchy….I seriously had no idea what was going on with me. It dawned on me that the only difference was the curcumin. I did some googling, and this reaction seems to be common enough. Curcumin is so powerful in detoxing your system that the die-off of toxins and cells overwhelm your body and make you feel like CRAP at first.

  • Tracy Dailly

    Hi I have bronchiectasis in my lungs due to lots of viruses after a bone marrow transplant left me vulnerable. I’m constantly looking for good supplements to help with my lung scarring. Will curcumin be beneficial for me? Can you help?
    Kind Regards

  • Marie

    Please notify me of follow-up comments.

  • Jeff

    Curcumin is supposedly an MAO inhibitor as well; has anyone noticed any issues with blood pressure with this or are the supposed MAOI effects not a reality? I’m guessing since it wasn’t mentioned, the author doesn’t follow a tyramine-reduced diet using this supplement?

  • Ahmad Awadallah

    I see you now recommend CurcuBrain. Do you no longer recommend Nutrivene’s curcumin? Or do you think that CurcuBrain is just a better value? Thanks!

  • joe

    The problem with these websites is that the authors don’t know how to read scientific journals, they just see the title and jump to conclusions. For example, in the study on testosterone, the authors say it may inhibit the enzyme that creates testosterone. The results of the study show that curcumin has no significant affect on testosterone until it is in very high concentrations. The researchers are also concerned with curcumin analogues, which are molecules that could be much more potent than curcumin.

    1. Nattha Wannissorn

      Heyya. I see what you are saying, which is why we say “may”. We don’t have the info for very long term use either.

      Just checked the paper and it says that it significant inhibits at 100 micro molar. Do you happen to know what physiological conc of curcumin is?

  • Ahmad Awadallah

    Hey Joe,
    I know you are sick of this type of question, but Now has a product called “CurcuBrain”. It supposed to reach the brain because it has Longvida. Have you tried it, or do you think that it will since it is Longvida? Thanks

  • CM

    Just so everyone knows, not everyone can tolerate high doses of curcumin. I started taking 3600mg of Theracumin HP. Within 2 weeks my body was reacting. Chills, stomach pain, gas, burping, malaise, some diarrhea. Very uncomfortable. I thought that I just had a bug or food poisoning. I did what you are supposed to do when you are sick and took it easy on my tummy and rested a lot. I stopped taking most of my supplements. Then I started feeling a little better, but still had stomach pain. I started taking my supplements again. Within 8 days the chills, gas, nausea, burping all started again. I finally put 2 and 2 together. I found an article online about the possible side effects of curcumin.
    I was experiencing was on that list. I also called the manufacturer of my curcumin. They said at high doses you could get gastrointestinal distress. So, just so you know….I had to put this together, my Dr. did not. I may be able to take it at lower dosages once my body gets back to normal again. Holy cow, what a gastrointestinal ride. I feel like poo. No, my curcumin did not have Bioperine in it.

    1. CM

      Oh actually it was 1800 mg!

      1. Richard Geldreich

        Theracurmin is extremely bioavailable (~27x more absorbable than regular curcumin). In my experience, you must adjust the dosage down when using Theracurmin. 1800mg of Theracurmin is an insanely high amount (equivalent to around 48,000mg of non-absorbable curcumin). No wonder why you had issues!

  • Mikey

    So seeing as its been shown that increases in serotonin and dopamine are dose dependent, the latter being reliant on higher doses of the curcumin, i’m sure the Metacurmin accomplishes the raise in dopamine. But what about doubling the dose of the Longvida?

    You mention in other articles to take 1g-2g of curcumin, so I just wanted to know if that goes by what’s on the back of the bottle (400-500mg). Thanks Joe!

    1. Joseph M. Cohen

      You mention in other articles to take 1g-2g of curcumin, so I just wanted to know if that goes by what’s on the back of the bottle (400-500mg).


  • Daniel O' Neill

    One way to increase the bioavailability of flavonoids such as curcumin is to take it with fat. Many flavonoids have low polarity, thus they have low solubility in an aqueous medium such as blood.
    (Learned about this from Brant Cortright’s Bulletproof Podcast.)

    I incorporate a tablespoon of turmeric with half a teaspoon of high quality black pepper into a lipid rich meal.

    1. Joseph M. Cohen

      It won’t cross the brain barrier

  • Marshall Sontag

    If you want curcumin to exert its anti-inflammatory effects in the GUT, you should take a form that is LESS bioavailable, so that it STAYS in the gut, rather than getting absorbed in the intestines. Turmeric root is probably perfect for this, although an inexpensive curcumin supplement is probably fine too.

  • Matt Adcock

    I have a theory as to why curcumin is so effective against so many conditions. Since it’s polyphenolic structure appears to bind the VDR, it may be a competitive inhibitor against a pathogen. I have theorized that an apicomplexan protozoan similar to babesia binds the VDR to evade immune detection. Curcumin binding allows for greater immune detection of the protozoan and a lower parasitemia.

  • Thomas Wiley

    $37 for 30 days @[email protected]

    I’ll just stick with LLLT for my brain

  • TAM

    I used to think you were different in your research and promotion of such material. Not all people can tolerate curcumin – Ha

  • Leo

    What’s the recommended dose? Should also be synergistic with Quercetin for bioavailability?

    1. DrRob Kominiarek

      Hi Leo…..studies demonstrate that dosages of 800mg of “emulsified curcuminoids” or greater per day are necessary for benefit and should be combined with black pepper extract for enhanced bioavailability.

      1. alexgierczyk

        It might not be such a good idea to use black pepper/piperine with curcumin:

        Piperine increase bioavailability by inhibiting biotransformation in the intestines and liver.

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