turmeric and curcumin benefits

Turmeric and Curcumin Benefits – Spoiler alert: It’s more than just the curcumin


In just about every single news article or television segment about turmeric, you no doubt hear about turmeric and curcumin benefits and what they can do for you. And that’s a good thing – because curcumin has so many things going for it and I encourage you to all get a little bit more of it into your diet. Turmeric curcumin benefits health. Turmeric curcumin benefits for the skin. Turmeric tea benefits. The list is endless…

But curcumin isn’t the only thing you should be looking for when it comes to buying turmeric. And I’m going to help guide you in the right direction.

It’s no secret that curcumin is what most people are looking for when it comes to their turmeric. Since 1949, it is curcumin – best-known for giving turmeric its bright yellow color – that has been studied and celebrated for its “medicinal” properties. Because of this, curcumin content became a marketing tool (especially in the U.S.) to advertise how good turmeric is based on high or low content.

Testing Curcumin Content

So, when the idea to work with Fijian turmeric first came to mind seven years ago, I decided to begin by testing roots for curcumin content. I tested for other things as well, but that’s another subject for a future blog.  The first sample came from a company that was advertising organic Fijian turmeric with an astonishing 8.9% curcumin content. That is fantastic, considering that the normal content is 3%-6%.

You can imagine my surprise when the test results came back at only 3.69%!

As a result of my interest in learning more – reading published medical studies is something I do regularly and serves to strengthen my commitment to Fiji Joe Turmeric – I continued to try and figure out why my results differed from what the labels were telling me. Over the course of my countless visits to Fiji, I have met two geologists (in fact, they are the only geologists I have met on the islands) and one told me that it is possible to get different curcumin content levels from turmeric grown in the same field.

To see if I could validate what I was being told, I took two turmeric samples from separate areas of the same field and sent them to the lab.  Even though the field was not quite an acre in size, there was indeed a .20 difference in the content, validating what I was told. It stands to reason those greater variations in curcumin content would be found in larger fields.

Then how is it that we see a definite curcumin content on turmeric products, some extremely high? Was it a mistake? Were they knowingly or unknowingly being dishonest?

I got the answer about six months ago while discussing turmeric with a nutria-scientist who worked at a lab specializing in supplements. I asked how it’s possible for batch after batch of turmeric to have the same curcumin content, and the answer was, “they add it”. He said that some companies simply purchase a concentrated form of curcumin and add it to their product until the desired content is reached.

When I took a closer look at the results, I had received on the curcumin content of the turmeric, I discovered something else – that curcumin and its benefits are only part of the story of turmeric.

Although I recognize the importance of curcumin, I have always been of the opinion that everything matters and plays its part in making turmeric what it is.

Additional Health Benefits of Turmeric

Through my independent research, I learned that the turmeric root contains many other beneficial vitamins and minerals. These include Vitamin C, Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, Selenium, Niacin, and Vitamin B-6, along with several others. As if this weren’t impressive enough, there are seventy-three essential oils in turmeric roots, and seventy-five in the leaves, with fifty-one of these oils being common to both. These oils have significant benefits that are not found in curcumin but work in synergy with it.

And it turns out I am not the only one who sees it…

A recent article in U.S. News and World Report from March 10, 2021, just confirmed that this is true, which was kind of exciting. The article suggests that it’s better to “go for turmeric as a whole rather than its isolated ingredient curcumin”. The article further states that, “Although researchers initially focused on the health properties curcumin has, now they’re finding that actually so do other components of turmeric”. Turmeric continues to be the subject of medical studies across the globe, and the news only gets better with each result.

Beyond these early results, I have continued my research – at my own expense. As it stands today, every single test I have conducted on turmeric is held in a file that now contains over seventy turmeric test results from various locations in Fiji.

During my travels over the years, I found and tested turmeric from several places. In some places, the roots were small and pale, while others were closer to the large size and deep orange color of our turmeric. The Fiji Islands are very remote and lush, without the industrial waste and air pollution other countries deal with. The quality of the soil, rain, humidity, and compost provided by neighboring plants all matter and contribute to the quality and potency of our turmeric.

This is why we give a range of curcumin content at Fiji Joe Turmeric and not an exact amount.  It is a plant, after all.

Health benefits aside, what could be better than bringing this turmeric to you from the place it has grown and thrived for over 4500 years?