Since its initial rise to fame, curcumin, the active constituent in turmeric (Curcuma longa), has maintained its position near the top of the charts—both in sales and popularity. In fact, according to this year’s HerbalGram herbal supplements report, turmeric was, once again, number one on the top-10 selling herbal ingredients in the natural channel for 2016. But while consumer demand for the anti-inflammatory remains high, its poor bioavailability continues to pose a challenge to suppliers and, as such, delivery system innovation abounds. At this year’s SupplySide West show, one curcumin supplier, Bayir Inc. (Hamilton, NJ), spoke to Nutritional Outlook about how its new nanoparticle technology can help formulators more easily incorporate pure, highly concentrated curcumin into cosmetics, food, and beverages. The company said its nanotechnology platform—for which it recently received a process patent approval in India—increases the solubility and dispersibility of curcumin.
Curcumin is soluble in fat, but not water. Given that the body is composed largely of water, making sure consumers are able to harness all of curcumin’s purported health benefits via adequate absorption has been a key challenge for manufacturers. Rohit Noronha, global head, marketing and sales, Bayir, told Nutritional Outlook that the Bayir’s nanotechnology process is the result of eight years of work to find a soluble solution. He explained that curcumin’s notoriously poor bioavailability was the impetus for the nanotechnology process and emphasized that the nanotechnology process does not alter the structure of the curcumin molecule; it alters only the particle size. Ln. Dr. Raghuveer, CEO, Bayir, claimed that the resulting small curcumin particle size allows it to disperse more quickly in formulations and enables the ingredient to work more quickly once it’s in the body.
Another benefit of the nanotechnology, the company representatives said, is that it circumvents the need for a carrier. Sendhil Pani, president, Bayir, explained: “We are converting the [curcumin] powder itself into its particle size. There are others probably claiming that they have a carrier, a nano carrier, and then they attach the curcumin to it. We don’t do that. We don’t any excipients or carrier. It’s just pure curcumin nanoparticles.” Noronha added that, while other curcumin formulations may come in recommended 100-mg dosages, only 30 mg of the nano-curcumin would be needed [to provide an equally absorbable amount of curcumin] in for the same formulation. “That’s the level of [the nano-curcumin’s] retention and absorption in the bloodstream,” he said.
Bayir said its nano-curcumin is the answer to a finished-product formulator’s dilemma, as it works well in food and beverage blends as well as in regular capsules and tablet formulations, for which less of the ingredient would be needed to achieve the same results. But the word is still out on FDA policy regarding nanoparticles for use in food and beverages.
“FDA is evolving in its regulation for nanoparticles,” said Pani. “They aren’t clear right now in terms of what’s [allowed] and what’s not. Right now, we feel that curcumin is a pre-DSHEA ingredient. It’s still curcuminoids in its chemical form. We have commercialized the technology, [but] we have not brought it into the United States to a commercial product. We’re working with partners who are very interested in getting this out, and we’re willing to work with FDA to identify any [regulatory] thresholds that they need.”
He continued: “For any product to come in [to the U.S.], you need safety studies, toxicology studies, stability studies, and of course, and some kind of bioequivalence studies, which we’re already putting in place. [Curcumin] being a natural product, we feel that we have a good chance of getting this out [into the market]. And it solves that very key hurdle of solubility.”
According to the company, its nanotechnology platform can also be applied to other ingredients that are similarly insoluble in water, or are not as easily absorbed by the body. The process patent, it said, will enable the company to test and develop those other ingredients as well.