Which Turmeric Supplement Should I Take? The Goodpath Selection Process

Medically reviewed by Beth Holloway, RN, M. Ed
2020-07-17

In the last several years, researchers have conducted thousands of studies on substances called curcuminoids (curcumin is one of them), the active ingredients in turmeric. The studies looked at its ability to reduce inflammation, help people with a variety of health conditions, and even aging.

Goodpath’s medical team selected turmeric as a solution in our back pain program. We include it in selected programs, based on a person’s answers on our back pain assessment. 

You might have questions about the Goodpath selection process and our choice of certain supplements. 

  • Why did we select turmeric/curcumin? 

  • How did we select the specific turmeric products? 

The answers may add to your confidence in our products and help when you’re shopping for supplements. We want you to understand how we select supplements. Our choice of turmeric is an excellent example.

More About Turmeric

Turmeric is one of many supplements that Goodpath recommends. It comes from the root of the Curcuma longa or Curcuma domestica herb

Turmeric and cooking

It gives Indian and Southeast Asian foods its yellow color and is also known as the spice Indian saffron

Turmeric and medicine

It has been used for thousands of years in Chinese and Indian medical practices to treat a range of conditions from infections to liver problems.

Why We Selected Turmeric

Like all of our supplements, we picked turmeric based on the research that supports its safety and effectiveness; in this case, for the treatment of osteoarthritis

As mentioned, we recommend it is based on a person’s answers on their back pain assessment - showing osteoarthritis as the likely cause of their pain.

Osteoarthritis is sometimes called wear-and-tear arthritis. Over time, joints and cartilage become damaged and inflamed. These changes cause pain, swelling, stiffness, and difficulty with movement.

The Evidence For Turmeric

It is the curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, that is anti-inflammatory - it decreases inflammation (the immune system’s response to disease, infection, or injury). Several reviews summarize turmeric’s overall anti-inflammatory effects (for example, Tabrizi; White).

So, the curcumin in turmeric decreases inflammation. And, osteoarthritis involves increased inflammation. But, is turmeric effective in lessening inflammation and pain in osteoarthritis? The answer is “Yes.”

The research of turmeric for people with osteoarthritis has, in fact, been very positive. Some of it is as follows:

  • A review of the use of curcumin and several other supplements in people with osteoarthritis found effective short-term pain relief (Liu).

  • One brand of curcumin was safe and effective in treating osteoarthritis over 8-months, a longer period of time (Belcaro).

  • Studies of two other brands of curcumin were conducted in people with painful osteoarthritis of the knee. Results showed it was safe, as well as effective in reducing pain (Madhu; Nakagawa). 

Turmeric Supplements

There are so many different turmeric supplements. There are similarities and differences.

  • Turmeric may be the only active ingredient in a supplement. Or other active ingredients may be combined with it in order to enhance its effectiveness or to achieve other therapeutic goals.

  • Supplements and herbal products also contain inactive ingredients to maintain stability, availability, and for other purposes. As examples, you may see lecithin, glycerin, or cellulose. Products may also be vegetarian or vegan, and allergen-free. 

  • How a supplement is made, or formed, greatly varies. For example, some turmeric supplements are modified to improve solubility, bioavailability, circulation time, targeted delivery and ADME (absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion).

Goodpath Uses Evidence, Evidence, Evidence

Choosing the best supplements is complicated. We take it very seriously. We do our homework.

Strength Of Research

Our medical team uses the SORT Criteria, an evidence-based approach, to select supplements for our programs. 

We use the American Academy of Family Physician’s Strength-of-Recommendation Taxonomy or SORT criteria to grade research. The assigned SORT grade is based on “the quality, quantity, and consistency of evidence.”

SORT Criteria 

Goodpath’s medical team assesses the evidence and assigns an A, B, or C strength-of-recommendation with: 

A = Consistent, good-quality patient-oriented evidence*

B = Inconsistent or limited-quality patient-oriented evidence*

C = Consensus, disease-oriented evidence**; usual practice, expert opinion, or case series for studies of diagnosis, treatment, prevention, or screening 

We use only A or B graded research. 

Patient-oriented evidence* reflects outcomes that matter to patients 
(like symptom improvement) while disease-oriented evidence** may not.

Effectiveness

Our primary source for choosing ingredients in our supplements is the Therapeutic Research Center’s Natural Medicines Database. We limit our selections to those rated as effective, likely effective, or possibly effective based on human studies. 

TRC Effectiveness Ratings 

Effective and Likely effective = Very high level of reliable clinical evidence supporting its use for a specific condition; generally considered appropriate to recommend.

Possibly effective = Limited clinical evidence supporting its use for a specific condition; might be beneficial for some people

We do not use ingredients rated as possibly ineffective, likely ineffective, or ineffective.

We further ensure effectiveness by comparing the TRC Natural Medicines Database ratings against the effectiveness information highly respected integrative medicine textbook, Rakel’s Integrative Medicine textbook, 4th edition.

Safety 

Your health and safety are most important to us; we choose only the safest solutions. 

To grade the safety of solutions, we use the grading scale provided in Rakel’s Integrative Medicine textbook. 

Three Levels of Harm

Grade 1 = Least harm. This therapy poses little, if any, risk of harm. 

Grade 2 = Moderate harm. This therapy has the potential to cause reversible side effects or interact in a negative way with other therapies.


Grade 3 = Most harm. This therapy has the potential to result in death or permanent disability. 

Goodpath’s medical team assesses the level of harm and uses only solutions that are Grade 1.

Factors In Our Selection

In addition to the evidence, there are many other factors that are part of our selection process.

We select ingredients for specific conditions. As discussed above, we selected turmeric for people whose answers on our back pain assessment point to osteoarthritis as the cause. Studies show turmeric is effective in treating osteoarthritis. But, we don’t recommend turmeric for people with back pain where other causes are more likely. 

We recommend the same dose and duration (length of time for therapy) as determined safe and effective in clinical studies.

We examined the formulations of ingredients in studies. We used that information in selecting our ingredients. For example, black pepper is added to turmeric in some products because it improves absorption of turmeric. We chose a turmeric-black pepper formulation as one of our products. 

We are very careful when choosing certain brands and suppliers. Our criteria include:

  • Well-known brands, sold by reputable retailers 

  • Published scientific criteria (like Goodpath) for ingredient sourcing, formulations, and manufacturing practices

  • Willingness to answer all questions from our pharmacists and physicians

  • Follow Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) as indicated by National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) International certification or Goodpath’s review to ensure consistency with US Pharmacopeia practices.

  • No history of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) violations or warning letters for manufacturing, labeling, or false claims.

We evaluate all ingredients. We:

  • Confirm the dose and formulation of active ingredients are consistent with clinical studies.


  • Confirm the quality of active ingredients are aligned with clinical evidence. For example, our peppermint products contain essential oil not leaves based on the effectiveness of oil in clinical studies.

  • Select formulations with the most bioavailability (active ingredient available to the body). We research all methods of ingredient bioavailability and make sure our selections are bioavailable.

  • Exclude products with insufficient active ingredient dosing per clinical studies. 

  • Exclude products without evidence of effectiveness.

  • Exclude any products that failed testing by Consumer Lab, provider of independent tests results for health and nutrition products.

There are times when we aren’t satisfied with products on the market. When that happens we work with manufacturers to produce our own products with evidence-based dosing and formulations. We make sure that the manufacturer meets Good Manufacturing Practices; adds appropriate inactive ingredients for absorption and bioavailability; uses appropriate bottles to protect products; and labels with clear instructions.

Choosing Supplements Yourself

It’s clear that selecting the best supplements can be a difficult and detailed process. Goodpath does this hard work. We take the time and make the effort to select products for you. 

However, we want to share our processes so you can use this information if you decide to buy supplements on your own.

One of the most difficult tasks in choosing any supplement is knowing what works for your specific problem. For example, if you’re looking for a product for headaches, you’ll want one that is both safe and effective. Try:

  • Asking your doctor, pharmacist, or another healthcare provider for their recommendation (Goodpath’s pharmacists are here to answer your questions).

  • Reviewing current medical society or organization treatment guidelines online (Goodpath reviews current guidelines). For example, for headache, search for “guidelines for headaches.” There will be many results including those from The American Academy of Family Physicians and The American Academy of Neurology. Read the guideline for recommended treatments.

  • Doing your own Internet research on products you’re considering (Goodpath does this challenging research). Look for products supported by medical studies. It may take some searching, but you should be able to find research that supports claims made by the manufacturer or company - perhaps through website links or journal article titles that you can locate on the Internet (Goodpath provides links to the research about each of our supplements).

  • Getting supplement information from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Take a look at their consumer site: FDA - Dietary Supplements

Knowing which product vendor/company to select is another challenge. Whether you’re purchasing at a local store or ordering online, there may be hundreds, if not thousands, of choices. 

Again, you might get recommendations from a healthcare provider. You can also check the label (if in-store) or the website (if online) for company information like medical affiliations, partnerships, purity standards, and certifications.

Note: You should also compare prices. The same product may be available from the manufacturer and from both local and online retailers with vast differences in price. Also check special offers and shipping prices.

How This Fits Into The Goodpath Approach

We like to say we are complete and integrative, dynamic, and reliable. We use supplements and medicines; nutrition; exercise; and mind body therapies through the Goodpath Four Pillars™. 

We work with you to adapt your program to your changing needs. And, we only provide safe and effective treatments. We believe this is the best way to treat back pain, as well as other conditions.

Get started on your Goodpath program.

For more information about our use of integrative point of view, see this video.

Click for more information about the Goodpath approach to care.