Background: The potential health benefits of curcumin are limited by its poor solubility, low absorption from the gut, rapid metabolism and rapid systemic elimination. The purpose of this study was the comparative measurement of the increases in levels of curcuminoids (curcumin, demethoxycurcumin, bisdemethoxycurcumin) and the metabolite tetrahydrocurcumin after oral administration of three different curcumin formulations in comparison to unformulated standard.
Methods: The relative absorption of a curcumin phytosome formulation (CP), a formulation with volatile oils of turmeric rhizome (CTR) and a formulation of curcumin with a combination of hydrophilic carrier, cellulosic derivatives and natural antioxidants (CHC) in comparison to a standardized curcumin mixture (CS) was investigated in a randomized, double-blind, crossover human study in healthy volunteers. Samples were analyzed by HPLC-MS/MS.
Results: Total curcuminoids appearance in the blood was 1.3-fold higher for CTR and 7.9-fold higher for CP in comparison to unformulated CS. CHC showed a 45.9-fold higher absorption over CS and significantly improved absorption over CP (5.8-fold) and CTR (34.9-fold, all p < 0.001).
Conclusion: A formulation of curcumin with a combination of hydrophilic carrier, cellulosic derivatives and natural antioxidants significantly increases curcuminoid appearance in the blood in comparison to unformulated standard curcumin CS, CTR and CP.