Curcumin vs Turmeric: What Are They and How Can They Help Me?
Medically Reviewed by Dr. Nicole Avena

Though often used interchangeably, the words curcumin and turmeric aren’t synonymous.

Here’s a closer look at the differences between curcumin and turmeric, and their important connection.

Is Curcumin the Same as Turmeric?


Used for thousands of years as a spice and medicinal herb, turmeric originates from India and comes from the root of the Curcuma longa plant, a member of the ginger family.

From the outside, the turmeric root looks a lot like ginger. However, when you break it in half, turmeric’s interior is yellow-orange, while ginger’s is green.

Due to its long history of being used as a spice, turmeric is found in many different foods. For instance, the turmeric root is dried, ground into powder, and added as a major constituent of yellow curry sauces. Hundreds of millions of people in other countries include turmeric in their daily diet.

Turmeric’s health benefits are numerous. It contains polyphenol substances called curcuminoids, and the most active of these is called curcumin.


Curcumin is now an umbrella name for the three main active curcuminoids of turmeric known to improve health: curcumin, demethoxy-curcumin, and bis-demethoxycurcumin. Each brand of curcumin concentrate prepared from the turmeric root has a different ratio of these three curcuminoids.

Modern science has extensively researched the curcumin complex of curcuminoids and established their powerful antioxidant and inflammatory response benefits. Curcumin may offer benefits for:

  • memory
  • mood
  • eyes
  • heart and circulation
  • joints
  • skin
  • prostate
  • intestinal tract

It also may help support muscles, nerves, and numerous other human tissues.

Curcumin vs Turmeric

When evaluating the actions of curcumin and turmeric, does one have benefits over the other?

One study showed that the curdione in turmeric may help fight fungal growth more efficiently than curcumin. Also, studies done in cell cultures show that turmeric may be better at suppressing the growth of tumor cells than curcumin alone.

On the flip side, one animal study found that curcumin was better than turmeric at reducing diabetes markers. This is accomplished by lowering markers such as tumor necrosis factor (TNF) and interleukin 6 (IL-6) – major contributors to type 2 diabetes.

Since turmeric contains curcumin, it’s difficult to determine if one is superior to the other – barring these possible exceptions. More studies are required to definitively identify the full range of benefits for both curcumin and turmeric.

Curcumin and Turmeric Supplements

Curcumin vs Turmeric | BrainMDMany curcumin and turmeric supplements have a fatal flaw; they’re poorly absorbed when taken by mouth. In fact, turmeric root powder and other conventional curcumin powders and supplements can be so poorly absorbed that only tiny amounts of curcumin are actually found in the bloodstream – which translates to little, if any, appreciable benefit to the brain and body.

Also, there isn’t much consistency when it comes to quality control among curcumin supplements. Research conducted by found that 20% of the curcumin and turmeric supplements they selected for review contained only half of the advertised amount of these compounds.

One of the keys to getting the maximum benefit from a curcumin supplement is to ensure that it’s adequately absorbed once you take it. Filling the need for an ultra-pure, well absorbed curcumin supplement, BrainMD is proud to recommend…


BrainMD’s Brain Curcumins supports working memory, calmness, and satisfaction in coping with mental strain.* Brain Curcumins provides the three major curcumins in the Longvida® Optimized Curcumin Extract.

As a branded ingredient, Longvida is a breakthrough formula that helps fight physical fatigue and maintain a healthy mood.* It’s also clinically confirmed to have high absorption in humans along with proven brain benefits.*

Benefits of Brain Curcumins

Extremely Well Absorbed

The three curcumins from the turmeric root have potent benefits in experimental systems, but are poorly absorbed when taken by mouth, which greatly limits their effectiveness in the human body. Longvida® is excellently absorbed and delivers curcumins to the brain.*

Promotes Healthy Mood Resilience

A double-blind clinical trial revealed many important brain benefits of Longvida®. Healthy volunteers with age-related memory difficulties had to take a challenging computerized test on Day 1 then again on Day 28. On Day 1, right after taking the test, compared to those on the placebo, those taking Longvida® showed improved alertness and better working memory.

When tested again on Day 28, the volunteers taking Longvida® displayed more calmness and contentedness (satisfaction) after the mental strain of test, versus those who received a placebo. The curcumin group also had lower total and LDL cholesterol on Day 28, compared to the placebo group.

Supports Working Memory

The repeat of the cognitive assessment test at 28 days also found the curcumin group statistically more improved than the placebo group on conservation of working memory. This is related to alertness and to the brain’s short-term information capacity to facilitate doing a task. Longvida® may help conserve this faculty, which tends to decline with age.*

Lessens Physical Fatigue

As the trial began, taking the test brought on physical fatigue similarly in both groups. On the repeat test, after the trial ended, the curcumin group reported less fatigue than before, to a statistically superior extent compared to the placebo group.

Fast Acting

In the clinical trial, some subjects who received Longvida® curcumin showed better sustained attention and working memory (such as multitasking) just 1 hour after taking it.

Don’t wait to support your memory, mood, and more.


At BrainMD, we’re dedicated to providing the highest purity nutrients to improve your physical health and overall well-being. For more information about Brain Curcumins and our full list of brain healthy supplements, please visit us at BrainMD.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This content is for informational purposes only. It is not meant to substitute for medical or healthcare advice from a physician, nor is it intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Consult your healthcare provider before beginning a new health regimen.

Keith Rowe