Touted as one of the most effective spices for reducing inflammation and pain throughout the body, turmeric has experienced a surge in popularity over the past few years: but does it live up to the hype?
The anecdotal evidence overwhelmingly suggests that it does, with turmeric fans espousing its ability to soothe joint pain and aid mobility, as well as maintain women’s reproductive health, support the gut, and encourage internal healing.
One such proponent is make-up artist and author of Eat Beautiful, Wendy Rowe. She uses turmeric to remain limber and aid movement, while clinical aesthetician Pam Marshall reveres its ability to foster overall health, saying that “it reduces inflammation throughout, hence it being a rare occurrence for a client with a diet high in turmeric to present to me with inflammation within their skin. I personally take it for my arthritis as it really does reduce my level of pain.”
So far, so good. But don’t think that introducing a daily turmeric latte and a sprinkling of it in your curry will be enough to reap the rewards. For the full benefits, you’ll want to turn to supplements.
This is where it gets complicated. Turmeric supplements aren’t all created equal, with a vast majority containing either curcuminoids, aka the isolated active compounds that are responsible for turmeric’s effects, or simply powdered turmeric.
The most efficacious and safe options take their cues from food by creating a hybrid of these forms to get the most out of the spice.
To pull together this list we trialled each product for a week, keeping notes on niggles like prevalence of acne (which is exacerbated by inflammation), achy joints and energy levels, before leaving a gap between trying the next one. We also read up on the science and ingredients behind each product. Here are those that passed the test.
Wild Nutrition full spectrum turmeric, 60 capsules
Wild Nutrition has cleverly combined turmeric with polysaccharides and essential oils because, in the words of the brand’s nutritional therapist Lorna Driver-Davies, “turmeric is a lazy compound, so you need fat with it to absorb it”.
We noticed a reduction in our usual period pain after only a week on these, as well as having had none of the usual attendant acne (spots are closely associated with inflammation).
Marie Reynolds calmeric, 90 capsules
Containing piperine (black pepper), cayenne extract, ginger root, and high-potency turmeric, these supplements work to up immunity and soothe the digestive system. They can be taken between one and three times daily, meaning you can customise your dose depending on how intense you want the results to be.
They also come in a handy package for stashing in your bag, should you be the sort to take yours on the go or travel a lot – the container is lightweight and won’t smash.
The Nue Co debloat+, 60 capsules
This blend of 17 digestive enzymes along with liquorice root extract and organic turmeric breaks down food and reduces bloating and uncomfortable symptoms after eating. We liked that this had an effect from the off, making heavier meals easier to digest and, after a week, making puffiness around the lower stomach considerably less pronounced. Top marks also go to the glass jar, which would be perfect for upcycling into a plant pot.
BetterYou turmeric oral spray, 25ml
Bypass your digestive system with this oral spray so there’s no challenge to absorption. The good thing about this one is that it tastes good, so we looked forward to a daily spritz.
Side note: turmeric stains everything, so make sure you’re careful about where you aim the nozzle of this one (don’t, like us, spray it onto your white shirt. That was a big mistake).
Pure Encapsulations glucosamine/MSM with ginger and turmeric, 60 capsules
MSM, ginger, glucosamine and turmeric form a potent cocktail that aims to reduce joint pain and help heal tissues. This is the one to go for if you are taking turmeric for pain reduction and want maximum benefits, and it made our creaky runner’s knees feel less painful.
The verdict: Turmeric supplements
The Wild Nutrition full spectrum turmeric has remained on our shelf, both because our specific concern lies with reducing period pain and because this reviewer tends to take supplements first thing in the morning. This is the time when we’re less inclined to have an oil component to our meal, so the contents of this capsule means we will definitely be absorbing the turmeric.
The Pure Encapsulations glucosamine/MSM with ginger & turmericwould be our choice if we were targeting joint pain.