The bioavailability of curcumin in CAVACURMIN® is 40 times higher than that of conventional curcuma extract.
Dec 06, 2021 Read time: approx. MinutesMinute
Smuggling Curcumin into the Body
Dr. Natalie Vladi uses curcumin in her range of Foondiert® food supplements because she greatly appreciates its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. This turmeric extract is not water-soluble, however, which hampers its bioavailability. WACKER BIOSOLUTIONS has come up with a solution that “smuggles” curcumin, so to speak, into the human body.
For centuries, turmeric, which is also referred to as yellow ginger, and saffron, a type of crocus, have been much valued in the Orient in stressful situations – turmeric especially due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and saffron because of its mood-enhancing and nervine effects. Dr. Natalie Vladi spent 20 years working in the research-driven pharmaceuticals sector. So when she decided to start her own food supplements company – Fountain House GmbH – she wanted to ensure that her products’ ingredients, including saffron and curcumin, the bioactive component of turmeric, would meet the most stringent quality standards.
“Standardized dosage is particularly important for plant compounds used in food supplements in order to ensure clinical effectiveness,” emphasizes the Hamburg-based registered pharmacist with Persian-Canadian roots. “The body should receive both the same quantity and quality every day. Many manufacturers cannot guarantee this, however.”
The mixture of turmeric and saffron has been known for centuries and is also used in Ayurvedic nutrition as the two plant compounds unfold synergistic effects when combined. Natalie Vladi is convinced that “essentially everyone can benefit from curcumin’s antioxidant.” Ozone, UV radiation or air pollution, for example, can cause oxidative stress for cells. “People who suffer from musculoskeletal inflammatory diseases such as osteoarthritis greatly value the anti-inflammatory effect of curcumin.”
Natalie Vladi wanted to convert this traditional knowledge from the Middle East and Asia into a modern, standardized and quality-assured formulation. So, for saffron, she uses Affron® – the most clinically studied of the products composed of this medicinal and spice plant. For the active ingredient curcumin – a bioactive component of the turmeric plant – she sought a manufacturer who could offer a patented, standardized production process. And who could furthermore provide a solution to a problem that all users of curcumin have to face: this plant compound is not water-soluble, which hinders absorption in the human body.
The brand name – Foondiert® – a tribute to the German word “fundiert,” which means well-founded or substantiated, reflects Vladi’s high standards for her products’ effectiveness. In Germany, quantities specified on food-supplement packaging can deviate by up to 50 percent from the actual amount in the product, while for medicinal products, only 5 percent is allowed. “It was important to me that the products be made using pharmaceutical-grade manufacturing,” emphasizes the licensed pharmacist. adding that her company is a member of the German Pharmaceutical Industry Association (BPI). In this way, Vladi can guarantee that her Curcumin Support Complex contains exactly 880 milligrams of curcumin in the daily dose of two capsules.
Even a precisely measured daily dose is, however, of no use if it cannot be absorbed by the body. The crux of the water-insoluble curcumin is its poor bioavailability. That’s why piperine or polysorbates are sometimes added to the turmeric active to help absorption in the body. Vladi does not recommend the use of these additives, because they can irritate the stomach’s sensitive mucous membrane lining or adversely impact digestion. She also wanted to exclude micelles and synthetic emulsifiers of any sort in her product line.
For Vladi, the challenge was formulating her curcumin products to ensure optimum bioavailability for consumers despite the hydrophobic nature of the active ingredient. That’s why she chose CAVACURMIN® from WACKER BIOSOLUTIONS, in which curcumin is complexed with gamma-cyclodextrin. Cyclodextrins are ring-shaped oligosaccharides that are water-soluble. They can reversibly encapsulate other molecules – even ones that are not water-soluble themselves – in their cavity as a kind of “guest.” This way, they significantly boost the bioavailability of certain water-insoluble compounds – in the case of curcumin by a factor of 40, compared with conventional turmeric extract. This was shown in two clinical studies commissioned by WACKER and published in 2018 and 2021, respectively (see box below).
“CAVACURMIN® is the only formulation on the market that has been shown to increase the bioavailability of both curcumin and tetrahydrocurcumin, into which supplemented curcumin is largely converted in the body,” explains Dr. Nicolle Mirie, head of Sales & Marketing for BioIngredients at WACKER BIOSOLUTIONS.
Derived from Cornstarch
Cyclodextrins are produced via enzymatic degradation of cornstarch in a fermentation process. WACKER was thus able to provide Vladi with the patented and standardized production process that she wanted for the cyclodextrin as a “carrier.”
As a free-flowing powder, the gamma-cyclodextrin-based raw material is perfect for use in tablets, capsules and granules. Vladi obtains CAVACURMIN® as a bulk product from WACKER, for her Foondiert® range of products that are made in northern Germany by a GMP-certified pharmaceutical-grade manufacturer.
Since the powder readily disperses in water, it is also ideal for use in liquid food supplements. CAVACURMIN® allows Vladi, for instance, to offer her Foondiert® product line as oral sprays and not solely as capsules. In order to avoid the use of artificial preservatives, this oral spray is formulated with organic ethanol. “It is ideal when you are on the move, and the active ingredients are also absorbed through the oral mucosa,” she states. “This innovative technology would not have been possible without complexation of curcumin with gamma-cyclodextrin.”
Studies on the Bioavailability of Curcumin-Cyclodextrin Complexes
A study published in 2021 in the Journal of Functional Foods shows that ingestion of the curcumin-cyclodextrin complex CAVACURMIN® leads to an increased metabolic bioavailability of tetrahydrocurcumin. A large portion of supplemented curcumin is converted into tetrahydrocurcumin in the body.
As it is not water-soluble, curcumin is not readily absorbed in the human bloodstream. Its bioavailability can be boosted significantly with the aid of gamma-cyclodextrin. A study published in the European Journal of Nutrition in 2018 already showed that the curcuminoids of WACKER’s cyclodextrin complex CAVACURMIN® are absorbed around 40 times more efficiently in the body than those of a standard curcumin extract (Purpura et al. 2018)*.
As part of a randomized double-blind study, it has now been shown that the metabolic bioavailability of tetrahydrocurcumin is also around 40 times higher following ingestion of CAVACURMIN® compared to a standard curcumin extract (Hundshammer et al. 2021)**.
Tetrahydrocurcumin is a curcumin metabolite credited with additional health-promoting properties. The metabolic bioavailability gives the ratio of the in-vivo production of tetrahydrocurcumin to the absorbed amount of curcumin. Another finding of the long-term study is that after only four weeks, daily ingestion of CAVACURMIN® (approx. 340 grams curcumin each time) leads to a consistently high blood concentration of curcumin and tetrahydrocurcumin. This effect can be measured after 12 weeks as well. What is more, the long-term study confirmed very high tolerability of CAVACURMIN®.
* Purpura, Martin, et al., Analysis of different innovative formulations of curcumin for improved relative oral bioavailability in human subjects, European Journal of Nutrition 57.3 (2018): 929-938.
** Hundshammer et al., Enhanced metabolic bioavailability of tetrahydrocurcumin after oral supplementation of a γ-cyclodextrin curcumin complex. Journal of Functional Foods, 79 (2021), 104410