Curcumin on its own is absorbed poorly by the body and is metabolised (breaks down) quickly. Taken on its own, it is unlikely to provide much in the way of health benefits. The addition of a small amount of piperine however, which is a substance found in black pepper extract, had been shown to improve the availability of curcumin to the body by 2000%. Taking curcumin and black pepper together is a simple way to markedly increase the absorption of curcumin.
The usual dose of curcumin taken for medicinal purposes is between 500mg to 2000mg daily, divided as two 500mg capsules twice daily. The higher dose of 2000mg daily is recommended for analgesic effect in osteoarthritis.
Curcumin is considered to be very safe with a long, established safety record. A small number of people have experienced a rash, diarrhoea, yellow stools, nausea or headache with side effects more common at very high doses for long periods of time. Rarely, there may be hypersensitivity to curcumin. Tell your doctor you are taking curcumin, if you must have any surgery.
Curcumin concentrated in capsule formis best avoided during pregnancy, however the amounts consumed when used in cooking with turmeric are likely safe. Though not definitive, there may be a risk of early labour with high amounts and most experts agree it is best to avoid medicinal doses of curcumin while pregnant.
Curcumin is even being used for dogs and cats for a variety of conditions including arthritis, immune disorders, inflammatory bowel disease and cancer. The taste and smell might present dosing challenges however, and make sure to consult your vet regarding dosage.