Turmeric has become a popular ingredient in supplements, powders, and teas over the last few years. Known for its anti-inflammatory properties, it’s being used for everything from joint pain to digestive support and for good reason. But what is the difference between turmeric essential oil and turmeric extract?
How do you know that the turmeric you’re using is in the proper form that your body can absorb and utilize? This is important information to know, so you’re not wasting your money on supplements and powders that aren’t doing much for you.
There is a distinct difference between essential oils and extracts, and it goes well beyond their aromas. An extract is either a part of the plant dried and ground or soaked in liquid, while an essential oil is the volatile aromatic compounds contained within the plant.
The distillation process preserves the unique compounds and their properties that are lost when a plant extract is made. Many of the constituents contained in turmeric extract are too large to survive the steam distillation process, so the extract is predominantly made up of various curcuminoids, while the essential oil is composed primarily of sesquiterpenes ar-Turmerone and Turmerone.
The different compositions result in a different spectrum of benefits. Turmeric essential oil not only imparts a powerfully warm and spicy aroma, but it also, due to its high concentration of ar-Turmerone and Turmerone, helps support healthy immune and nervous system function when taken internally. It also has a number of benefits for the skin when applied topically.
Though the essential oil and the extract yield different results, they are a power couple when used together.
Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a plant belonging to the ginger family. It has been used in Ayurvedic health practices for thousands of years, but there is recent excitement in Western society about turmeric because of the various benefits it may have for supporting the body’s healthy structure and function.
It is therefore beneficial to know which compounds are useful, if they can be readily absorbed, and if the turmeric products available commercially contain the components we’re looking for. To answer these questions, let’s explore the science of turmeric.
The turmeric plant contains a variety of compounds. The majority of the plant is made up of water, proteins, carbohydrates, and fiber. Although they are present in much smaller percentages, the compounds that are responsible for most of the excitement surrounding turmeric are curcuminoids and turmerones.
Curcuminoids have been used for their antioxidant properties as well as their ability to support a healthy inflammatory response within the body.
However, curcuminoids are large, water-soluble molecules that do not readily absorb in the body.
Turmerones are also supportive of the body’s normal inflammatory response as well as the function of the nervous system.
Tumerones are tiny, fat-soluble molecules that readily absorb into the bloodstream.
Three Forms of Turmeric
There are three different forms of turmeric, each with varying ratios of chemistry. These three forms are the botanical, the extract, and the essential oil.
The botanical form is the raw plant or plant parts, such as the root, stems, or leaves. The percentage of curcuminoids and turmerones in the botanical form is relatively small in comparison to the other components.
The second form is a CO2 extract of Turmeric. CO2 extraction is a process in which much more of the curcuminoids end up in the final product; however, the turmerone content is not much higher than in the botanical.
Unfortunately, even though turmeric extract contains higher amounts of curcuminoids, your body isn’t capable of absorbing them without assistance. You may have heard that consuming black pepper along with turmeric facilitates the absorption of curcuminoids.
This is due to the piperine in black pepper, which inhibits certain metabolizing enzymes in the liver to ease absorption. However, keep in mind that Black Pepper essential oil contains only the volatile aromatic compounds, not the piperine. Therefore, Black Pepper essential oil will not help with absorption of curcuminiods.
Turmeric essential oil is extracted through steam distillation and is composed mostly of turmerones. The larger curcuminoid molecules don’t make it through the distillation process. Consequently, we should expect to see a miniscule amount of curcuminoids in the final product of a high quality essential oil.
For maximum benefit, it is useful to consume forms of turmeric with the highest levels of curcuminoids and turmerones in their most bioavailable forms.
To put it simply, if you use the botanical, you probably won’t get as much of the curcuminoids and turmerones as you’re looking for. If you use the CO2 extract, you still don’t get enough turmerones and you’ll have to find a way to improve absorption of curcuminoids into the body.
If you use the essential oil, you won’t get any curcuminoids, but you’ll gain access to a relatively high amount of turmerones. With all these different options it can be difficult to find one place for your turmeric products.
Fortunately, there are 3 options I will suggest that will cover all of your turmeric needs and give you a healthy dose of curcuminoids and turmerones in a bioavailable form.
Deep Blue Polyphenol Complex and Alpha CRS+ Cellular Vitality Complex were formulated with proprietary standardized CO2 extracts of curcumin, the most important curcuminoid, as well as other components in order to increase the bioavailability of the curcuminoids sevenfold.
These dietary supplements provide a higher amount of curcuminoids in the right formulation to help your body absorb them.
In order to produce a new product that was significantly higher in turmerone content, doTERRA developed Turmeric essential oil. As mentioned before, turmerones are readily absorbed into the bloodstream. Therefore, the benefits of this essential oil can be gained by consuming it alone, without the addition of other components to increase absorption.
Through the combined use of these products, you gain the highest amount of curcuminoids and turmerones respectively.
Turmeric Oil Uses and Benefits
- Turmeric oil may help support a healthy nervous system, as well as cellular function. When you’re feeling like your nervous system is out of balance or needs calming, add Turmeric oil to coconut milk and honey for a delicious drink.
- The soothing benefits of Turmeric oil can be utilized by taking one to two drops in a Veggie Capsule. Doing this on a regular basis gives your body the antioxidant support it needs to protect your body from free radical damage. It may also support healthy immune function as well as immune response.
- It is nearly impossible to go through life without facing some trouble, but we can take control over our emotions. Give yourself a boost by diffusing Turmeric throughout your home to provide yourself with an emotionally uplifting environment and thereby improve your mood.
- Turmeric has the ability to support healthy glucose and lipid metabolism. To better support your metabolism, take one to two drops of Turmeric in at least four ounces of water.
- This spicy oil is actually a wonderful oil to use on your skin. Customize your facial moisturizer by adding a drop of Turmeric before applying, to help support overall clean and healthy looking skin. Turmeric can also be used as a spot treatment to naturally reduce the appearance of blemishes.
- Take advantage of the subtle spicy and peppery flavor of Turmeric by adding a drop or two to scrambled eggs or frittatas, plain rice, or soups. You can also add it to sautéed greens for a peppery flavor. The added bonus to cooking with Turmeric oil? It also allows you to reap the other internal benefits of Turmeric we mentioned before.
- Incorporate Turmeric oil into your recovery routine after strenuous activity for a soothing experience. In your palm, add a few drops Turmeric to Fractionated Coconut Oil and massage into your skin where you need relief most.
To learn more about Turmeric essential oil and its numerous benefits and applications, click here.
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