Curcumin update: What about Theracurmin?

I’m going to try to make this a quick post… partly to see if I’m capable of doing a quick post. (I’ve had some trouble striking the right balance between frequency of posts and quality.) Of the 13 or so long posts that I’ve written, the one that got the most attention was the most recent one in “honor” of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. However, the one I’m asked about the most is certainly the post about Curcumin. There has been a lot of discussion about how to validly compare the absorption studies of the various brands, and this past week two people asked me about Theracurmin, a brand I had not previously discussed. The reason I had not discussed it is that, frankly, for whatever reason, I’d never heard of it. So, I went digging online to see what I could find. Like all the other brands discussed in the prior curcumin post, Theracurmin claims to have the best absorption. As I’ve mentioned, to achieve even halfway decent absorption with curcumin, you need to have some sort of “trick.” Longvida and Meriva use phospholipids to help it get across the intestinal wall. BCM-95 uses curcumin oils to accomplish the same thing. Theracurmin takes the approach of making the curcumin particles super-fine, and in some fashion is thus able to get them to dissolve in water. So does it work? As far as I can tell from the studies, it does in fact work– though the studies are a little misleading as far as how WELL it works. To their credit, they do have more than one human pharmacokinetic study. Here’s a graph from one of them:

Fig.3 Cancer Chemother Pharmacol (2012) 69:65–70
Fig.3 Cancer Chemother Pharmacol (2012) 69:65–70
As you can see from my arrow, the graph is very misleading. It took me a some cross-referencing to figure out that when they refer to 30mg of Theracurmin, what they are really saying is “an amount of Theracurmin that contains 30mg of actual curcumin.” Each Theracurmin capsule is 10% actual curcumin, and 90% “other stuff” that helps the curcumin absorb. Longvida and Meriva have to do the same thing: each of their capsules are 20% curcumin and 80% phospholipids– except as you can see here, they label their graphs more accurately:
Longvida pK study
Longvida pK study on 650mg Longvida
Note that the graph is labeled “650mg of SLCP” which stands for Solid Lipid Curcumin Particle– that’s what they call the “slurry” that is Longvida. Had they said “650mg curcumin”, that would mean you’d have to consume five times that much Longvida to get that effect, since Longvida is only 20% actual curcumin (via terry). So I mentally dock Theracurmin points for how their graph is labeled… and they did the same thing in their other pK study: (CLICK ON GRAPH TO ENLARGE)
Cancer Chemother Pharmacol (2012) 69:65–70
Cancer Chemother Pharmacol (2012) 69:65–70
Nevertheless, I did find this picture that I took from a YouTube video about Theracurmin, which seems to be labeled accurately: (CLICK ON PHOTO TO ENLARGE)
Comparison of pK studies. Brand names added by me.
Comparison of pK studies. Brand names added by me.
So here you see a comparison of 650mg Longvida with 1g of Meriva vs 2g BCM-95 (assuming you are comfortable with the BCM-95 study using dry weight and converting… see discussion below my first Longvida post) It would appear that even 300mg Theracurmin does a little better. Keep in mind that these are certainly not head-to-head studies– these graphs were extracted from each brand’s particular pK study and overlaid on top of one another; but this is the best we’ve got. What’s most interesting to me about this is that Theracurmin absorption does seem to increase progressively with increased dose. That is NOT true of Longvida. Here is a look at Longvida numbers at 2g and 4g ingestion: Longvida pK 2g v 4g bigger pic As you can see, even 4g of Longvida only yielded about 40ng/mL. So, it would seem that Theracurmin may be a real breakthrough in curcumin absoprtion…! If I were taking it for anti-cancer effects, I’d strongly consider 600mg-900mg/day Theracurmin. If taking it for anti-Alzheimer’s effect, I’m torn, since we have data clearly showing that Longvida crosses the blood-brain barrier and binds amyloid plaques. (See minutes 26-40 of the webinar video embedded in this blog post.) In any event, Theracurmin appears to be a worthy addition to your supplement shelf!

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