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.

22 Replies to “4 Ways to Activate Turmeric for Maximum Absorption”

    1. 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. 🙂

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

  1. 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.

      1. 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.

  2. 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?

  3. 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!

    1. 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

  4. 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?

    1. 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.

  5. 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 ?

    1. 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 🙂

  6. 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?

  7. 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.

  8. 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??

  9. 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!

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