Clinical trials show that curcumin, present in the spice, may help fight osteoarthritis and other diseases, but there’s a catch – bioavailability, or how to get it into the bloodWhile Kamal Patel was probing through the reams of user data on examine.com – a website that calls itself “the internet’s largest database of nutrition and supplement research” – before a planned revamp later this year, he discovered that the most searched-for supplement on the website was curcumin, a distinctive yellow-orange chemical that is extracted from the rhizomes of turmeric, a tall plant in the ginger family, native to Asia.
Patel concluded that this was probably because of curcumin’s purported anti-inflammatory properties. “An astounding number of people experience inflammation or have inflammation-related health conditions, and curcumin and fish oil are two of the most researched supplements that can sometimes help,” he says.
This consumer interest in curcumin hasn’t gone unnoticed by the “wellness” industry. Besides its use in pill supplements, curcumin is increasingly being incorporated into cosmetic products that claim to help treat acne and eczema, prevent dry skin, and even slow down the ageing process. Some reports predict that the global curcumin market size could reach $191m (£156m) by 2028.