Turmeric Shots: Magic Elixir or Pure Hype?

Let’s look at the root science to find out if fresh turmeric shots are actually valuable for your health.

By Dr. J.E. Williams |

Tumeric tea powder

With an impressive nutritional profile, turmeric has long been used for its benefits. Often called the “golden nutraceutical,” turmeric is the latest superfood to make headlines as Manhattan supermodels and Hollywood celebrities are heralding the benefits of starting their days drinking turmeric shots of the bright yellow spice mixed with water.

But there’s nothing new about people ingesting turmeric for a health boost. Curry dishes, infused with turmeric, have been a staple of the Indian diet for 1,000 years. Turmeric is also used in traditional Ayurvedic and Asian medicine as a stomach tonic and blood purifier.

For turmeric to maintain its place in those cultures’ medicinal arsenal for so long and become popular in Western countries, it must have impressive, proven health advantages. Let’s look at the science behind it and find out whether fresh turmeric shots are actually valuable to your health.

“Often called the ‘golden nutraceutical,’ turmeric is the latest superfood to make headlines in celebrity news.”

What Makes Turmeric So Healthy?

Turmeric is in the same plant family as ginger: the Zingiberaceae family. Powdered turmeric is processed from the plant’s dried rhizomes. The fresh rhizomes can also be peeled and grated like ginger. Curcumin is the active chemical compound in turmeric (Curcuma longa) that gives it the bright yellow color. Curcumin is one of turmeric’s most important compound groups, called curcuminoids. Curcuminoids’ impressive biochemical resume includes powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

Curcumin helps lower C-reactive protein, which the liver produces to increase inflammation. Scientific studies show that curcumin increases the activity of antioxidant enzymes in the body including raising glutathione levels. It also reduces the risk for cardiovascular disease by helping boost HDL (“good”) cholesterol and lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. It increases nitric oxide in the blood, improves blood circulation, and reduces insulin resistance.

7 Health Benefits of Curcumin:

  1. Arrests prostate, pancreatic, and colon cancer.
  2. Promotes nerve regeneration and slows neurodegeneration.
  3. Stimulates wound healing by increasing stem-cell activity.
  4. Fights against effects of aging.
  5. Lowers cholesterol.
  6. Improves diabetes.
  7. Reduces liver toxicity.

Curcumin Synergy

Because curcumin is fat soluble, so it’s best absorbed into the blood stream when mixed with oils or fats, or used in a meal that contains cooking oil. Traditional Indian food and many dishes from South China and Malaysia combine turmeric in curry dishes for this reason.

Turmeric shots are water-based drinks, making it harder for the body to absorb the turmeric during digestion. However, turmeric is beneficial for the intestinal tract, even when not absorbed. That’s likely the main advantage of drinking water-based turmeric shots.

Turmeric works synergistically with ginger root. Adding fresh ginger to a turmeric + water shot balances and energizes the mixture, and enhances the flavor. Turmeric also pairs well with black pepper.

Fresh turmeric rhizomes are pencil thin and about 2 inches long. Since less than 3 percent of fresh turmeric contains the active compound curcumin, you need to use several peeled rhizomes per shot. Enhance your turmeric power shot by adding curcumin powdered extract.

How to Make a Turmeric Power Shot:

  1. Combine 2 fresh, peeled turmeric rhizomes and a small peeled ginger root in a blender with 2-4 ounces of plain water or unflavored coconut water. Using a Magic Bullet or other high-speed blender, blend the mixture for a few minutes.
  2. To boost effectiveness, add ¼ teaspoon of 95-percent curcumin extract powder.
  3. Add fresh lemon, raw honey, or sea salt to balance flavor.
  4. If you like it spicy, sprinkle a dash of black pepper or cayenne on top.

 

To increase the bioavailability of raw turmeric, try blending your power shot with one raw egg white and a teaspoon of coconut oil or flax seed oil. A dash of black pepper helps increase digestibility of raw turmeric. Then drink the mixture.

Bioavailability of Curcumin Supplements

Because curcumin is poorly absorbed in the intestinal tract, nutritional supplement manufacturers and nutraceutical scientists devised ways to improve curcumin bioavailability. The first method was combining curcumin extract with BioPerine, a trademarked standardized extract of black pepper (Piper nigrum). Laboratory studies show curcumin absorption increased by 2000% within the first hour after ingestion. However, for maximum effectiveness, you have to take the BioPerine form of curcumin every two hours.

Dr. Williams’ supplement choices:
Curcumin 500, Meriva-SF, and BCM-95.

Another more readily absorbed form is curcumin phytosome complex with phosphatidycholine, trademarked as Meriva and BCM-95. Fat-soluble curcumin is converted to a water-soluble form that remains in the blood for 24-hours. Curcumin nanoparticles are favored in some supplements like TheraCurumin. And a water-soluble form, polyvinylpyrrolidone-curcumin complex, trademarked as GENUS Serum, uses stabilized micelles. Water-soluble, ultrafine micelles are 100% bioavailable and improve the intestinal absorption of curcumin.

Bottom Line on Turmeric Shots

Turmeric is one of the nature’s most valuable herbs for human health. It’s considered safe, but consuming very high concentrations of curcumin extract might damage DNA and suppress immunity. So, don’t overdo turmeric or curcumin.

It’s well-tolerated in the digestive tract and produces a comfortable warm feeling in the belly, rarely causing a queasy stomach. Curcumin is best taken with food or after a meal. Water-soluble forms are best taken between meals.

Look for enhanced bioavailable forms of curcumin providing at least 30% curcuminoids standardized extract.

Turmeric is a healthy spice, and curcumin extract is a valuable nutraceutical supplement for managing chronic inflammation. Combined with dietary tweaks done consistently over a long period of time, consuming a daily superfood like turmeric shots can make a big difference in your health.