4 Ways to Activate Turmeric for Maximum Absorption

Chances are you’ve read about the turmeric craze and decided you best get on the bandwagon so you too can start increasing the growth of new neurons and neutralise some of those free radicals zooming about the place, not to mention the anti-Alzheimers and arthritis benefits of this potent anti-inflammatory. But sprinkling it into your tea, it turns out, is not enough. You need to activate your turmeric.

But, surely, you activate muscles, or Siri, on your iPhone, when in a bind. But spices? I didn’t really understand  – at what point had I ever deactivated my turmeric? All the other spices think it’s the favourite – I keep it in a pretty special, hexagonal, clip top jar right by the teas – not in the spice rack with all the others, so I would have thought, in the line of spice duty – my turmeric was as active as they come.

But of course, when we pay special attention to nature, the body and the way in which we re-integrate with all that potential – there are underlying processes that, once we know them, allow us to benefit from natures’ bounty far more than previously thought possible.

So, on to how to activate your turmeric. Let’s get those neurons growing, shall we?

Quick education on why activating turmeric is a must

Essentially it all comes down to absorption. The active good guy inside turmeric, is a substance called curcumin. So, the bio-curcumin supplements out there are offering you this key ingredient at a far higher dose.

But according to scientific studies, turmeric and its comprising curcumin have a low absorption rate and therefore a rather low bioavailability, meaning the good stuff is in there, but our bodies struggle to access it. Most of the curcumin is absorbed directly into the lining of the liver and stomach wall, as opposed to the bloodstream, where we want it in order to reap the health benefits.

How to increase absorption from turmeric or curcumin

1. Add pepper

The liver makes certain substances water soluble so they can more easily pass through our systems. But when we add pepper, high in a compound called piperine, the absorption of the curcumin is slowed down, thanks to the drug inhibiting components of piperine. So eating turmeric with pepper increases the absorption, I’ve read, up to 2000%.

2. Eat it with good fat

Turmeric is fat soluble – meaning it dissolves in fats. Without the fats binding it, the turmeric struggles to make it through the liver and stomach without being absorbed prematurely, and into the small intestines where it can be transferred through to the blood. So, by eating the turmeric with good fats, like avo or coconut oil (or in delicious curries), you’re more likely to absorb more of it into your bloodstream.

This is also why golden lattes are so popular. They all involve dissolving a turmeric paste with coconut milk (which is where the fats come in) and usually include the required pepper too.

3. Eat it with purple foods

These foods, like berries, red grapes (that includes a glass of red wine for dinner with your turmeric curry) and onions, and then also apples and green tea, all contain a plant pigment known as quercetin. This flavanoid is another enzyme inhibitor, of one in particular that deactivates curcumin. Your deeply coloured foods are richest in this flavanoid, so chuck some turmeric in a blueberry smoothie next time (as turmeric is also heat sensitive – which you’re avoiding in a smoothie completely).

4. Make a paste for golden lattes

You can pre-activate your turmeric for bed-time brews by mixing it with pepper and simmering on the stove for a while. The paste can be stored in a jar in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Here’s a recipe for the stovetop turmeric paste. Or you could enjoy the golden latte, piperine rich benefits of turmeric in the Taka Turmeric premixes for lattes and smoothies.

If you’re craving a more in-depth look at the science behind turmeric activation, check out this post on healthy-holistic living on boosting the power of turmeric.

And regardless of how you’re choosing to activate your turmeric, always make sure you get high-quality organic turmeric to begin with.

  • Angelika Blackie
    Posted at 07:40h, 01 March Reply

    I wonder if Tumeric mixed with Cayenne Pepper has the same effect than taking it with black pepper

    • Andrea Fedder
      Posted at 14:19h, 01 March Reply

      Hi Angelika,

      Well cayenne pepper is from the capsicum family so doesn’t contain piperine as do other peppercorns – your pink peppercorns will also contain piperine, but black pepper has the highest concentration. Note – pre-ground pepper has no value here. 🙂

      • marcel
        Posted at 22:30h, 19 March Reply

        Are curcumin supplements better absorbed? If so, for severe depression, which one is better? Theracurmin, Longvida or NovaSOL?
        Thank you very much

    • Sh
      Posted at 07:36h, 10 April Reply

      Following a recommendation, I have started taking half a teaspoon of organic tumeric powder, 5 to 6 black peppercorns which i ground and a dash of olive oil, all mixed with some water every morning. Within 1 and a half weeks, i cld feel a silky smoothness to my skin. First my thighs, then back and now 2 months later, my neck and face. Plus, the pain in my knees have reduced greatly.

    • Alison Lee Jones
      Posted at 16:08h, 02 May Reply

      I have glowing skin without adding fat. I steep turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, and clove (all fresh) and add water (not much) and Stevia. I also started cycling daily and have had NO muscle fatigue. Amazing!

      • Kellie champagne
        Posted at 19:25h, 16 September Reply

        What other actorsers can you use besides black pepper and cayenne pepper?

  • Debra
    Posted at 05:54h, 02 March Reply

    rubbing it on your forehead and leaving it on for about 1/2 to 1 hour , also gets absorbed quicker and cleanses the third eye area and helps to remove fluoride from the body. so i been advised I am trying it out for 25 days will let you know the outcome.

    • thirdeyesss2123124
      Posted at 01:20h, 20 October Reply

      Did it work? What happened?

    • dobra
      Posted at 16:12h, 22 October Reply

      This is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever read

      • Cashel
        Posted at 12:07h, 20 January Reply

        Agreed dobra. Rubbing tumeric on your forehead? Leaving it on for up to an hour?? Cleansing the “third eye”??? Uh I dońt think that it gets absorbed any quicker as topical application to begin with, which is generally the lowest bioavailability form of ingestion. Not to mention leaving tumeric sit on your skin for up to an hour will probably only leave you with a ridiculous looking stain on your forehead making you appear to actually have a giant third eye. Yes, tumeric does have a a rather low bioavailability when ingested so consuming mixed with coconut oil or other dietary ingredients may help but rubbing it directly on your skin or “chakras” or whatever seems entirely ridiculous. I have however added some tumeric to a yogurt mask and can attest to the fact that it will give you a bit of a glow and perhaps even help to calm acne. But that is diluted in a mask and you only leave it on 10 min or so, I guess if you want to look like an oompa-loom pa you could just follow the recommendation in that previous post. Wow, Ím surprised some buffoon on here hasn’t posted something on here on how to inject it or smoke it. Absurd.

    • Goop Nindrup
      Posted at 20:25h, 07 March Reply

      Cleansing the third eye.


  • Queen
    Posted at 13:51h, 27 March Reply

    Good Andrea

    Thank you for your article on the absorption of turmeric in the blood stream. I am currently taking my turmeric with dandelion root and milkthisle tinctures in full cream plain yogurt. Does this count as the right fat that will increase the absorption?

    • angela young
      Posted at 06:26h, 30 March Reply

      Hey any results from this? Pls let me know! Would love to hear about any success stories with the combination of these 3 herbs.

  • Kelly Thomson
    Posted at 02:11h, 24 April Reply

    Great! Thanks for this useful info x

  • Frank gillespie
    Posted at 14:40h, 06 July Reply

    I make my turmeric concoction in the morning, brewing it with green tea, black pepper, coconut cream, and cinnamon… I noticed that you state that heating up the turmeric deactivates it… Am I making a mistake by creating a hot tea with it? I want to achieve maximum absorption. Thanks!

    • Vee
      Posted at 14:03h, 21 October Reply

      Hi Frank
      I am no expert but based on what my sons nutritionist has advised us, yes high heat does destroy the properties. She had advised us that warm but not hot. Not sure what temperature is good

  • Lisa
    Posted at 04:12h, 30 November Reply

    I am a little confused as to the comment about Turmeric being “heat sensitive”, and then being told to cook it. If heat destroys it, why should it be heated?

    • gwen faye
      Posted at 22:25h, 29 March Reply

      The heat sensitive comment is incorrect in the context you are using it. Tumeric needs to be heated up to release, so if you are adding it to a smoothie, make sure you add fat from coconut oil, avocado or something like that. If needs to be heated or taken with the correct foods or fats, otherwise the body wont absorb it and you wont receive the benefits at all.

      • Connie
        Posted at 01:08h, 12 December Reply

        Would mct oil be hood to use? I currently drink my coffee with sugar free vanilla Torani, mct oil, and grass fed butter. Was thinking about adding turmeric.

  • heather
    Posted at 07:38h, 30 November Reply

    High, i am wanting to feed my Horse turmeric with the pepper and coconut oil but unsure of how much [teaspoon, tablespoon, cup etc] to feed a 500+kg animal for it to have the desired affect. Wanting it more for the arthritic side of things. Only has 5-10% arthritis in one leg.
    can you help ?

    • Kerry Haarhoff
      Posted at 11:48h, 03 December Reply

      Hi Heather – this would definitely be a question for your vet or equine therapist. Unfortunately we don’t have an answer for you. Please let us know if you’re able to find a solution 🙂

  • Tim
    Posted at 23:18h, 08 June Reply

    Would our bodies absorb tumeric better if we take it with both black pepper and fats?

    • Kerry Haarhoff
      Posted at 16:54h, 11 June Reply

      Absolutely! Always a great option to add them together for maximum absorption

  • Jess
    Posted at 04:10h, 30 August Reply

    Has anyone tried a turmeric cleanse? I’ve read that there is a “golden ratio” of 1 tablespoon of turmeric to 4 tablespoons coconut oil placed an enema. The first time there was a lot of burning, but not sure if that is expected?

    • Moe Moe
      Posted at 05:30h, 29 October Reply

      I’ve been doing turmeric/coconut enemas for over a year, now. When I go for more than 7 days without this enema I get sluggish, depressed, constipated, and lethargic. It’s amazing how much better I feel.

  • Miike Van Midsdeendorp
    Posted at 05:12h, 23 September Reply

    Is fish oil a good fat, meaning if i take fish pills with the turmeric will it satisfy the fat requirement.

  • Paula
    Posted at 17:31h, 11 December Reply

    Curcumin is the wonderful anti-inflammatory, cancer fighting ingredient in turmeric. But curcumin makes up only 2-8% of turmeric and that isn’t bioavailable. It is a waste of time and effort to take turmeric. One should be taking a bioavailable formulation of curcumin.

    • Jonas Preišogo
      Posted at 20:52h, 11 May Reply

      WRONG. So wrong. In actuality turmeric has many other beneficial compounds which works in synergy.
      If anything there are trials that show that full form turmeric(even as little as 1gram per day) is much more beneficial/effective for memory recovery than 1gram of curciminoids(extract). Not to mention that some people can’t tolerate curcuminoids extracts.
      Seriously, be careful before saying such things to people, remember that not in every case an extract will be better than a full form herb.
      In case of turmeric, it’s actually essential that you use full form turmeric. And if you wish more strength(depending on you ailment type and other factors) you can use curciminoids(extract) alongside turmeric but not instead of it.
      ~3grams(or even less) of turmeric powder (cooked in oil with black pepper – recipe “golden turmeric paste”) is highly effective for many ailments even though in theory it only has ~80-150mg of curcuminoids. However that they miss in content of curcuminoids(compared to curcuminoids extracts) they more than make up in other beneficial compounds, their synergy and better absorption when cooked with oils and black pepper.

  • Jim
    Posted at 19:10h, 22 January Reply

    I make a drink from organic chicken stock raw garlic Cayenne pepper and Turmeric. Heat it but not to a boil. Am I getting any benefits from the Turmeric this way??

    • Helen
      Posted at 23:04h, 05 February Reply

      Read above note on pepper;

      Andrea Fedder
      MARCH 1, 2017 AT 2:19 PM
      Hi Angelika,

      Well cayenne pepper is from the capsicum family so doesn’t contain piperine as do other peppercorns – your pink peppercorns will also contain piperine, but black pepper has the highest concentration. Note – pre-ground pepper has no value here. ?

      Also use good fats and not higher heat but apparently needs to be heated to activate it but thinking the pepper may do this in itself but I’m not certain !?

      Avacado, olive oil and coconut oil, mct oils are good (virgin coconut oils).
      Also very important is the curcumin in the turmeric that is derived from the turmeric.
      So taking turmeric instead of it’s derivative would be not beneficial for the results your seeking.
      A nutritionalist or natural path Dr. Or even a legitimate article on subject would be well worth the research if you are serious about getting the best results.

    • Helen
      Posted at 23:05h, 05 February Reply

      No read below

  • G
    Posted at 17:07h, 28 January Reply

    I add it to my eggs with fresh cracked pepper in the morning with oatmeal protein powder and whole fat milk! Don’t know if it’s doing me any good but definitely not hurting me!

  • Rania Alkhazaleh
    Posted at 07:42h, 31 January Reply

    What’s the best brand to use for turmeric

  • Sunny harjani
    Posted at 18:22h, 31 January Reply

    The best recipe in my way is :~
    1. . 1/2 tea spoon turmeric powder
    2. . 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper
    3. 1 table of coconut oil
    All put in very water of glass
    Taken in 15 minutes later.
    Takes of any inflamation in the body

  • Kriss
    Posted at 00:46h, 03 February Reply

    So I make tea and cut up fresh turmeric and ginger I drink the and then ingest the turmeric and ginger…am I not getting any benefits from this?

  • Julio Ayala
    Posted at 06:01h, 23 February Reply

    Can olive oil have the good effect if mixed with turmeric and black pepper. It would be easy to do

  • Patti Proto
    Posted at 08:09h, 26 February Reply

    I just bought SCULPTnation Turmeric with Turmeric root, Turmeric root extract (95% curcuminoids), Black pepper fruit extract (Bioperine). 1.32 grams proprietary blend per serving. It had a great write-up or send it back for refund. Sounded good to me. I’ll start tomorrow.

  • Hana
    Posted at 20:28h, 19 March Reply

    I make a mix of turmeric, black pepper, olive oil and lemon.
    I take it every morning before the breakfast. Am i using right or should i mix it with warm water or tea.
    Pls i need an answer.

  • Fabiola
    Posted at 18:16h, 27 March Reply

    Hi! If i add fresh turmeric with ground pepper and fiber to a smoothie…. am i still activating the turmeric? Or do i have to add another type of fat?

  • Michael Bremer
    Posted at 05:00h, 03 April Reply

    Fresh or dried? Which, if any, is better please?

    • Jonas Preišogo
      Posted at 21:05h, 11 May Reply

      best is fresh because it has the original oils of turmeric so it’s highly bioavailable to our bodies.
      However it’s usually very hard to come by fresh turmeric or it’s expensive. If that’s the case – don’t worry, dried turmeric is still extremely beneficial and decently absorbale when cooked in oil and with black pepper. Great results is achieved with dried turmeric cooked in oil with black pepper.

      • Deborah Perry
        Posted at 16:56h, 13 November Reply

        So if I swallow 1 inch chopped up fresh turmeric and immediately eat two scrambled eggs loaded with black pepper – is that sufficient for absorption ?

      • Trinity
        Posted at 15:54h, 04 July Reply

        Try buying fresh Turmeric at an Indian grocery.

  • Monica
    Posted at 18:41h, 15 April Reply

    Hi, i would like to ask if turmeric or what other effective spices are good for endometriosis . Thanks

  • Tina Pabon
    Posted at 23:28h, 17 April Reply

    My husband puts in in his fresh juice 5 times a day (about a dash) should he be using more and should he be using it in a different way?

    • Jonas Preišogo
      Posted at 21:08h, 11 May Reply

      “dash” is too little. At least one gram per day would be minimum for some sort of results.
      If he really wants results, he should use ~1,5-3grams turmeric powder cooked in oils with freshly ground black pepper(“golden paste” recipe). It’s by far the best way to use turmeric for health/medicinal reasons.

  • Health n wellness
    Posted at 15:26h, 30 April Reply

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  • Rachel
    Posted at 23:06h, 29 July Reply

    Do you know if turmeric can have a soothing effect for wounded skin? I make hand-dyed fabric and occasionally use turmeric for the color, although it will eventually wash out. Was wondering on the chances that wearing this fabric could be therapeutic for the top layers of the skin.

  • Sarita Premley
    Posted at 09:23h, 27 October Reply

    Hi, turmeric is not heat sensitive, far from it – boiling it for ten minutes was shown to increase absorption dramatically in one study. Perhaps you could correct this in your article.

  • Bobby Keith
    Posted at 13:44h, 29 September Reply

    Half a cup of local honey, tsp of turmeric , 1/2 tsp ginger, tsp tsp of vanilla is supposed to be a great antibiotic!

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