Golden Paste or Turmeric Supplements?
A year ago
Golden Paste or Turmeric Supplements?
You’ve heard about the almost magical inflammation-taming benefits of turmeric. You know it can benefit every system in the body--digestive, brain, skin, immune, musculo-skeletal. It seems like a no-brainer to put yourself and your family (horses and dogs included, naturally) on a steady supply of turmeric, but what is the best way to reap all of its amazing benefits?
(warning: scroll down to the tl/dr if you're allergic to math!)
A Traditional Approach: Golden Paste
Turmeric has been used as a staple of traditional, natural medicine for the past 4 millennia (yes, 4 THOUSAND years!). In Ayurvedic tradition, turmeric was used topically, internally, and even inhaled (as smoke), to address a multitude of skin, respiratory and other ailments.
Golden Paste is a way to increase consumption of whole-food turmeric in your diet. Golden paste is traditionally homemade by cooking culinary turmeric, coconut oil, and black pepper into a paste which is then administered to people or animals at amounts beginning at ½ tsp/day. Curcuminoids (some of the active components of turmeric) are typically not well absorbed by humans (or dogs) unless they are consumed with fat. Additionally, piperine (one of the active components of black pepper) has been shown to increase absorption of most bioactive compounds, making it a natural choice to enhance turmeric’s absorption. (Be aware--piperine/black pepper is not particular about WHICH bioactive compounds it enhances absorption of...worth noting for individuals consuming other drugs or herbs!). Golden paste has been designed as a lifestyle/dietary choice, and is thought to provide its benefits when consumed regularly over long periods of time.
Let’s do a bit of math, then, to figure out how much turmeric is in a traditional golden paste dose: one popular recipe calls for a ratio of Turmeric:Oil:Pepper of 8:5.3:1. Using that math, approximately 55% of your ½ teaspoon of golden paste is accounted for by turmeric (this equivalizes to roughly 0.7g of turmeric). The turmeric rhizome is made up of carbohydrates (69.4%), protein (6.3%), fat (5.1%), and minerals (3.5%)--the rest is moisture, volatile oils and curcuminoids (bioactive compounds). Therefore, the 0.7g turmeric in your golden paste contains at most 0.1g of all potential active compounds and only ~0.03g of curcuminoids (turmeric powder typically varies in level of curcuminoids from 3%-6% depending on growing conditions, storage, etc) . Which is a non-issue, if your goal is to consume more turmeric.
But what if your goal is to reap some of the health benefits you’ve heard about and seen cited in the media--the ones that initially got you interested in consuming more turmeric?
Scientifically Researched Doses of Turmeric
As we look at published research, there is more (and higher quality) research on turmeric’s effect on cells, next most on people, less on dogs, and very little on horses. But, since horses and dogs and people all have cells and some systems work in a similar manner, we can make some extrapolations. We’ll use the research review here (across different species) for an overview of approximate therapeutic dosages. This research spans benefit areas, including cancer, cell death, liver health, diabetes, heart health, arthritis, etc--different dosages of turmeric and extracts have been studied across different benefit areas (for example, a dose that has been shown to have heart benefits may not have been shown to have brain or blood sugar benefits).
Turmeric vs. Turmeric Extract
Many of these studies use turmeric extracts (so, without the carbohydrates/protein/fat/minerals) that contain all of the active components of turmeric but are standardized to contain 95% curcuminoids. As you read different studies (or articles about studies), it’s important to understand whether the effect(s) being seen in the study are being produced by culinary turmeric or turmeric extract--the turmeric extract often has 20 times the amount of beneficial curcuminoids!
Dosage by % diet: Some studies express turmeric dosage as a percentage of the subjects’ diet. The average american eats ~5.46 lbs of food per day. The research review provides study results with subjects consuming .1%-5% of their diet as turmeric-- this equates to anywhere from 2.47g of turmeric (OR turmeric extract--which can contain significantly more curcumin) to 124g of turmeric--over 177 times the amount provided by a daily dose of golden paste! A 75lb dog on a raw diet might eat ~1.5lbs of food per day, making the dosages calculated by weight range from 0.7g (about the same as a dose of golden paste) to 34g (over 48 times the amount provided in a dose of golden paste). We won’t even look at the math for horses here--at an average food consumption of 2% of their body weight per day (so, 24lbs daily for a 1200lb horse), the numbers get really big really quickly!
Dosage by weight: Another way to consider dosage is by how much turmeric (or extract) is consumed per kg of the subjects body weight. The research cited ranges from 1.6mg/kg to 1000 mg/kg of turmeric EXTRACT (remember--this has ~20 times more active curcuminoids than regular turmeric). A 70lb (~32kg) dog would then need between 1g and 32g of regular turmeric daily to replicate the results of the studies. A 1200lb (544kg) horse would require between 17g and 544kg of culinary turmeric! (Just a side note here: please don’t feed your horse 544g of culinary turmeric. She won’t like it. And, she probably doesn’t need *quite* that much--check out our Facebook page for some interesting research on why horses digest turmeric much better than humans and dogs!).
In-vitro (in the cell) vs. In-vivo (in the body) Research
One common concern about turmeric in any form (whole or extracted) is the bio-availability of its chemical components--in other words, how well the body can actually use it. In Golden Paste, coconut oil (fat) and black pepper (piperine) are used to enhance absorption. Turmeric extracts used in research are often ‘liposomal’ (loosely, ‘wrapped in fat’) to achieve the same effect. With in-vivo studies (like the ones summarized at the above link), the results take into account the relative availability of the turmeric used, so they are particularly good for estimating dosages.
So, that was all very complicated. What’s the TL/DR?
- Golden Paste is a terrific way to get more turmeric into the diet of most creatures.
- Many of the scientifically researched benefits of turmeric have been produced using turmeric extracts, which are often 20x more potent by weight than culinary turmeric.
- The dosages recommended by scientific studies vary widely based on both the researcher AND the effect being studied (digestive vs. cancer vs. mood, etc).
- Daily doses of Golden Paste do not deliver the equivalent amount of turmeric shown to be effective at impacting bodily and cellular systems as shown in the scientific literature.
Do your homework. Know what you want, and demand that your supplement provides it. (Your horses and dogs will thank you!)