Best Curcumin Supplement?

November 5, 2012 Written by JP       [Font too small?]

In previous columns I’ve reported on the myriad of health benefits associated with turmeric extracts. Turmeric is probably best known as a component of curry, the traditional spice mix. However, among scientists, turmeric has been at the center of a love-hate relationship. In animal and in vitro studies, curcuminoids, antioxidant chemicals found in turmeric, have yielded very encouraging results in conditions ranging from autoimmune disease to dementia. Conversely, human trials have been far less consistent. Poor bioavailability is suspected as the primary culprit for the mixed findings in the human studies.

When recommending a curcumin supplement to clients, family and friends, I opt for an extract by the name of Meriva. The product is manufactured by Indena, an Italian phytopharmaceutical giant. Meriva is reasonably priced and well researched. What’s more, Indena has a long history of improving the absorption and activity of plant based ingredients by utilizing “phytosomes”. In essence, phytosomes chemically bind phospholipids (emulsifying components found in lecithin) with water soluble substances such as curcuminoids, green tea and resveratrol. The resulting combination increases the retention and uptake of otherwise poorly absorbed extracts.

To date, nine peer-reviewed studies have been published on Meriva. The results have been nothing short of impressive. First and foremost, Meriva has been shown to increase the systemic availability of curcuminoids “29-fold higher” when compared to uncomplexed curcumin. But, even more important, is the therapeutic effect Meriva supplementation has in human volunteers. A typical, daily dose of 1,000 mg of Meriva has been documented as improving various eye conditions (anterior uveitis, chronic chorioretinopathy and diabetic microangiopathy) and osteoarthritis. In addition, two well designed animal studies indicate that Meriva may present a powerful adjunct “medication” in the treatment of breast and colorectal cancer.

Supplementing with a curcumin phytosome supplement is beneficial on a number of fronts. It allows users to take a lower dosage, thereby reducing the risk of gastrointestinal upset – the most common side effect of high dose curcumin therapy. Also, there is an obvious advantage to only taking two capsules per day as opposed to several or more. The use of Meriva can likewise reduce expense. A one month supply costs approximately $15 when purchased online. This makes it more affordable (and safer) than many popular medications and supplements used for similar purposes. This is not to say that Meriva is the only effective curcumin extract on the market. Other supplements, such as BCM-95, may turn out to be as or more effective. However, for the time being, I find the research supporting Meriva to be at the head of the pack.

Note: Please check out the “Comments & Updates” section of this blog – at the bottom of the page. You can find the latest research about this topic there!

To learn more about the studies referenced in today’s column, please click on the following links:

Study 1 – Supramolecular Phospholipids–Polyphenolics Interactions (link)

Study 2 - Comparative Absorption of a Standardized Curcuminoid Mixture (link)

Study 3 - Comparison of Systemic Availability of Curcumin w/ That of Curcumin(link)

Study 4 - Pilot Study of Oral Administration of a Curcumin-Phospholipid (link)

Study 5 - Potential Role of Curcumin Phytosome (Meriva) in Controlling (link)

Study 6 - Management of Chronic Anterior Uveitis Relapses: Efficacy of Oral (link)

Study 7 - Product-Evaluation Registry of Meriva®, a Curcumin- (link)

Study 8 - Efficacy and Safety of Meriva, a Curcumin-Phosphatidylcholine (link)

Study 9 - Effect of Curcumin and Meriva on the Lung Metastasis of Murine (link)

Study 10 - Curcumin Ameliorates Oxaliplatin-Induced Chemoresistance in HCT116 (link)

Meriva As An Adjuvant Cancer Therapy

Source: Int J Cancer. 2011 Jul 15;129(2):476-86. (link)

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Posted in Alternative Therapies, Bone and Joint Health, Nutritional Supplements

24 Comments & Updates to “Best Curcumin Supplement?”

  1. ben Says:

    I use to use Life Extension’s 800mg “Super Curcumin With Bioperine”, but it’s been discontinued but replaced with one without the black pepper.

    So now, I use wanson’s Curcumin Complex

  2. JP Says:

    Hi Ben,

    I think you’ve chosen a suitable alternative. *If* you’d like to try Meriva to see if it works better for you, you might try:

    The cost is lower. The results? I can’t say for sure. But, I think it’s worth a shot.

    Be well!


  3. rob Says:

    That looks good and probably one worth trying, right im using Organic India tunmeric which is supposed to be good. Thanks

  4. JP Says:

    Hi Rob,

    I like that the product you’re using contains organic ginger and turmeric.

    Be well!


  5. Clayton Hinkle Says:

    Why not Longvida which has been shown to increase absorption by 65 times?

  6. JP Says:

    Hi Clayton,

    Longvida also appears to be an excellent product. However, it’s considerably more expensive.

    Be well!


  7. Bill C Says:

    I have a question and a concern.

    I noticed that Meriva is listed in the title of many brands of curcumin. Do these various companies, in addition to Swansons, license the formula from Minerva? If so, is their a way to buy directly from the originator of the product?

    Second, I noticed that the ‘concentration’ of curcumin in each tablet is much less than many other curcumin products such as that sold by Vitacost & other more well known makers:

  8. JP Says:

    Hi Bill,

    Any (reputable) product that lists Meriva on it’s label is licensing the raw material from Indena – the maker of Meriva. I’m not sure if Indena sells direct to consumers. I doubt it, but I don’t know for certain.

    You’re correct about the difference in curcuminoid concentrations. However, I think what’s most important is the effect of any given turmeric extract in the human body. Ultimately, I think that’s more relevant i.e. “real world results”. I haven’t seen a lot of positive human data using the C3 complex. Also, the use of piperine may influence the absorption medications and other supplements. To the best of my knowledge, phospholipid-bound curcumin extracts don’t pose the same problem.

    Be well and happy new year!


  9. Sonia Says:

    The Meriva product you suggest has magnesium stearate/chalk. That is the #1 thing I try to avoid at all cost! That is the reason I’m looking for an alternate.

  10. JP Says:

    Hi, Sonia.

    IMO, the claims made about the potential health risks associated with magnesium stearate are highly exaggerated. I’ll post some impartial information about that below. Having said that, you can find some Meriva supplements which are free of magnesium stearate. One example is a product called CurcumaSorb manufactured by a company called Pure Encapsulations. I hope this helps!

    Be well!


  11. Iggy Dalrymple Says:

    I now take Longvida in the evening and Theracurmin in the morning. I’ll probably discontinue the Longvida when I run out.

  12. JP Says:

    Hi, Iggy. IMO, they’re both good choices. I believe I’m pretty up-to-date with the latest research on all three supplements – Longvida, Meriva and Theracurumin. Why have you decided to switch over to Theracurmin? I’d be interested to know.

    Be well!


  13. Iggy Dalrymple Says:

    I was basing it on Dr Trutt’s article. He admits that the comparison is flawed because it’s hard to compare results from separate studies. He says the final verdict won’t be in until there are head to head tests.

  14. Iggy Dalrymple Says:

    BTW I’m having a little gastro disturbance from taking this much: 1200mg Longvida in the evening and 600 Theracurmin in the AM.

  15. Iggy Dalrymple Says:

    If I could buy my own nano-curcumin, I would make my own liposome, probably at a good $aving.

  16. JP Says:

    Thank you, Iggy. I assume that you’re taking the curcumin extracts with food? If not, that could help with the GI upset. In addition, I wonder if you might be able to split up the dosage to minimize this side effect. Perhaps you can take 600 mg thrice-daily, instead of 600 mg and 1,200 mg in the morning and evening.

    Making your own nano-emulsion would certainly save money. But, I think achieving a consistent result would be difficult. Maybe not as difficult as producing a mineral chelate, but close.

    Be well!


  17. JP Says:


    Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2014 Dec;18(24):3959-3963.

    Meriva®+Glucosamine versus Condroitin+Glucosamine in patients with knee osteoarthritis: an observational study.


    Osteoarthritis (OA) is a major cause of physical disability and impaired quality of life. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are the most used treatment for OA, but they are frequently associated to adverse events. Alternative therapies are under investigation for the treatment of OA. Meriva® is a lecithin delivery form of curcumin, a powerful promoter of anti-oxidant response studied in a number of conditions related to chronic inflammation and pain.


    This 4-month observational study, conducted in a ‘real-life’ scenario, compares the association of Meriva and glucosamine (n=63) with chondroitin sulphate+glucosamine (n=61) in 124 patients with grade 1-2 OA of the knee.


    Patients treated with Meriva+glucosamine had significantly higher Karnofsky Index and WOMAC score (both in the physical and emotional domains), compared to those in the chondroitin+glucosamine group. Noteworthy, the walking distance at the treadmill test after 1 month was also significantly higher in the meriva+glucosamine group; this advantage was sustained until the end of the study. Although the need for concomitant drugs and medical attention decreased in both groups, this reduction was more evident for patients treated with Meriva+glucosamine.


    Taken together, the results of this study shows that the 4-month administration of the association of Meriva and glucosamine can result in a faster onset of action and improved outcomes than the administration of an association of chondroitin sulphate and glucosamine in patients with OA.

    Be well!


  18. Jack Says:

    JP, do you have any info about curcumall, a liquid form of the supplement? Is it more bioavailable than Meriva?



  19. JP Says:

    Hi, Jack.

    To the best of my knowledge, there haven’t been any peer-reviewed, published studies that have evaluated the relative bioavailability of the Curcumall formulation. The one study I did find suggests a potential application for a condition known as oral mucositis.

    The primary ingredient in Curcumall is C3, a patented curcumin extract. It has been subjected to numerous studies. However, the main selling point of Curcumall is it’s (supposedly) enhanced bioavailability – over C3 alone or other curcumin supplements. Also, the makers claim it’s 100% safe – no side effects. This latter assertion probably wouldn’t hold up to controlled test results. This isn’t to say the product isn’t beneficial or healthful. I just don’t have any reason to conclude that it’s more effective or safer than Meriva or other curcumin-based supplements.

    Be well!


  20. JP Says:

    Update 05/13/15:

    Indian J Endocrinol Metab. 2015 May-Jun; 19(3): 347–350.

    Turmeric use is associated with reduced goitrogenesis: Thyroid disorder prevalence in Pakistan (THYPAK) study

    Introduction: South Asian population has a particularly high prevalence of thyroid disorders mainly due to iodine deficiency and goitrogen use. There is no data available for prevalence of thyroid disorders in the general population living in nonmountainous regions of Pakistan.

    Materials and Methods: A total of 2335 residents of Pak Pattan, Punjab, Pakistan were interviewed about demographic, dietary, medical and environmental history as well as screened for goiter. Individuals of all ages and either gender were included.

    Results: Median age was 34 (10–88) years and 1164 (49.9%) were males. Median monthly income was 49 (3.9–137) USD. Six hundred and sixty-nine (28.7%) subjects had palpable goiter. 77.5% (n = 462) and 22.5% (n = 133) had World Health Organization Grade I and Grade II goiters respectively, further screened by measuring thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). In subjects with TSH <0.4 mg/dL, free T3 and free T4 levels were measured. In 185 goiter subjects when TSH was measured, 50% (n = 93) were euthyroid, 48% (n = 89) were hyperthyroid, and one subject each was hypothyroid and subclinically hyperthyroid. 29/89 hyperthyroid subjects underwent radionuclide scanning. Twelve subjects had heterogeneous uptake consistent with multinodular goiter, 12 subjects had diffuse uptake, two had cold nodules and two had hyperfunctioning single nodules. Goiter was significantly more common among females, unmarried individuals and individuals drinking tube well (subterranean) water. Goiter was less common among those who consumed daily milk, daily ghee (hydrogenated oil), spices, chilies, and turmeric.

    Discussion: In our study population, goiter was endemic with very high prevalence of hyperthyroidism. Turmeric use was association with reduced goitrogenesis. Further studies to assess iodine sufficiency, thiocyanate exposure and autoimmunity need to be conducted. Masses consuming high goitrogen diets should be educated to incorporate turmeric, spices and green chilies in their cooking recipes, to reduce the risk of goiter development. In addition, use of iodized salt in their daily diet cannot be overemphasized.

    Be well!


  21. JP Says:

    Update 06/30/15:

    Biomed Res Int. 2015;2015:283634.

    Oral Curcumin (Meriva) Is Effective as an Adjuvant Treatment and Is Able to Reduce IL-22 Serum Levels in Patients with Psoriasis Vulgaris.

    Curcumin is a complementary therapy that may be helpful for the treatment of psoriasis due to its anti-inflammatory, antiangiogenic, antioxidant, and antiproliferative effects. In the present study we performed a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial to assess the effectiveness of a bioavailable oral curcumin in the treatment of psoriasis. Sixty-three patients with mild-to-moderate psoriasis vulgaris (PASI < 10) were randomly divided into two groups treated with topical steroids and Meriva, a commercially available lecithin based delivery system of curcumin, at 2 g per day (arm 1), or with topical steroids alone (arm 2), both for 12 weeks. At the beginning (T0) and at the end of the therapy (T12), clinical assessment and immunoenzymatic analysis of the serum levels of IL-17 and IL-22 were performed. At T12, both groups achieved a significant reduction of PASI values that, however, was higher in patients treated with both topical steroids and oral curcumin than in patients treated only with topical steroids. Moreover, IL-22 serum levels were significantly reduced in patients treated with oral curcumin. In conclusion, curcumin was demonstrated to be effective as an adjuvant therapy for the treatment of psoriasis vulgaris and to significantly reduce serum levels of IL-22.

    Be well!


  22. JP Says:

    Update 06/30/15:

    Eur J Dermatol. 2015 Jun 12.

    Effects of Curcuma extract and visible light on adults with plaque psoriasis.

    INTRODUCTION: We conducted a phase IV randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, pilot clinical trial to investigate the safety and efficacy of oral curcumin together with local phototherapy in patients with plaque psoriasis.

    MATERIALS AND METHODS: Patients with moderate to severe psoriasis received Curcuma extract orally with real visible light phototherapy (VLRT) or simulated visible light phototherapy (VLST) in the experimental area, while the rest of the body surface was treated with ultraviolet A (UVA) radiation. The endpoints were the number of responders and the temporal course of the response. The secondary outcomes were related to safety and adverse events.

    RESULTS: Twenty-one patients were included in the study. In the intention-to-treat analysis, no patients included in the VLRT group showed “moderate” or “severe” plaques after the treatment, in contrast to the patients included in the VSLT group (p<0.01). Parallelisms in the evolution of PGA, BSA, and PASI scores were observed in the two groups following the treatment. At the end of the study period, 76% of all patients showed a response in the BSA exposed to UVA. Lesions on the experimental area showed a response in 81% of the patients in the VLRT group and 30% of the patients in the VLST group. There were no study-related adverse events that necessitated participant withdrawal.

    CONCLUSION: The results suggested that moderate to severe plaque psoriasis should show a therapeutic response to orally administered Curcuma if activated with visible light phototherapy, a new therapeutic method that would be safer for patients than existing treatments.

    Be well!


  23. JP Says:

    Updated 09/28/15:

    Complement Ther Med. 2014 Oct;22(5):851-7.

    Lipid-modifying effects of adjunctive therapy with curcuminoids-piperine combination in patients with metabolic syndrome: results of a randomized controlled trial.

    BACKGROUND: Dyslipidemia is an established feature of metabolic syndrome (MS) that is associated with an increased risk of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. Curcuminoids are natural products with anti-atherosclerotic and lipid-modifying effects but their efficacy in patients with MS has not yet been tested.

    OBJECTIVE: To investigate the effects of bioavailability-enhanced curcuminoids, as adjunctive to standard of care, on serum lipid concentrations in patients with MS.

    METHODS: Patients diagnosed with MS according to the NCEP-ATPIII criteria who were receiving standard of care were assigned to either curcuminoids (C3 complex(®); 1000 mg/day; n=50) or placebo (n=50; matched with drug capsules in shape and color) for 8 weeks. In order to improve the oral bioavailability, curcuminoids were co-administered with piperine (bioperine(®)) in a ratio of 100:1. Serum concentrations of total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), triglycerides, small dense LDL (sdLDL), lipoprotein(a) [Lp(a)], and non-HDL-C were determined at baseline and at the end of 8-week treatment period.

    RESULTS: Curcuminoids were more effective than placebo in reducing serum LDL-C, non-HDL-C, total cholesterol, triglycerides and Lp(a), and elevating HDL-C concentrations. However, changes in serum sdLDL levels were found to be comparable between the study groups. The effects of curcuminoids on triglycerides, non-HDL-C, total cholesterol and Lp(a) remained significant after adjustment for baseline values of lipids and body mass index.

    CONCLUSION: Curcuminoids-piperine combination is an efficacious adjunctive therapy in patients with MS and can modify serum lipid concentrations beyond what is achieved with standard of care.

    Be well!


  24. JP Says:

    Updated 11/30/15:

    Phytother Res. 2015 Nov 27.

    The Role of Curcumin Administration in Patients with Major Depressive Disorder: Mini Meta-Analysis of Clinical Trials.

    Major depression is a common, recurrent, and chronic disease that negatively affects the quality of life and increases the risk of mortality. Several studies have demonstrated that curcumin, the yellow-pigmented substance of the turmeric, possesses antidepressant properties. The aim of this review is to meta-analytically assess the antidepressant effect of curcumin in patients with major depressive disorders. We extensively searched the literature until August 2015. The random-effect model was used to calculate the pooled standardized difference of means (SMD). Subgroup analyses were also performed to examine the effect of different study characteristics on the overall model. Six clinical trials met the inclusion criteria. Overall, curcumin administration showed a significantly higher reduction in depression symptoms [SMD = -0.34; 95% confidence interval (CI) = -0.56, -0.13; p = 0.002]. Subgroup analyses showed that curcumin had the highest effect when given to middle-aged patients (SMD = -0.36; 95% CI = -0.59; -0.13; p = 0.002), for longer duration of administration (SMD = -0.40; 95% CI = -0.64, -0.16; p = 0.001), and at higher doses (SMD = -0.36; 95% CI = -0.59, -0.13; p = 0.002). The administration of new formulation of curcumin (BCM-95) had non-significantly higher effect on depression as compared with the conventional curcumin-piperine formula. We conclude that there is supporting evidence that curcumin administration reduces depressive symptoms in patients with major depression.

    Be well!


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