BBB National Programs Archive

Natural Factors Discontinues Certain Claims for ‘Theracurmin’ in Response to NAD Inquiry; NAD Recommends Additional Modifications

New York, NY – March 11, 2015 – The National Advertising Division has recommended that Natural Factors, Inc., modify or discontinue certain claims for the company’s Theracurmin line of curcumin dietary supplements. Following its review of the company’s advertising, NAD determined that the company could support certain claims.

NAD is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation. It is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus.

The challenged claims appeared in Internet, print and labeling were challenged by Europharma, Inc., which manufactures a competing curcumin supplement.

Theracurmin contains turmeric, a yellow powder commonly used as a cooking spice, flavoring agent and coloring agent.  Turmeric contains curcumin, identified as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.  Curcumin is typically extracted and concentrated to a purity of 95 percent. It is  well-known that curcumin suffers from poor bioavailability and there are several curcumin supplement formulations on the market designed to increase the bioavailability of curcumin.

In response to NAD’s inquiry, Natural Factors agreed to permanently discontinue the following claims:

  • “One capsule is equal to 8000 mg of regular curcumin powder”
  • “CurcuminRish is over 300 times more bioavailable than curcumin powder”
  • “At equal dosage levels, Theracurmin-Pro 300 and Theracurmin-Pro 600 produce blood levels in human and animal studies that are 300-fold higher bioavailability compared to standard curcumin in humans”
  • “One 600 mg capsule of Theracurmin is equivalent to 16,200 mg of curcumin”
  • “One Theracurmin Pro-300 capsule is equal to 8,1000 mg of curcumin”
  • “One Theracurmin-Pro 600 capsule is equal to 16200 of curcumin”
  • “Synergistic anti-inflammatory benefits when used with EPA/DHA.”
  • “The only product that has shown to actually increase the free curcumin in its purest form is Theracurmin-Pro. As free curcumin is significantly more active than the metabolites it is likely that Theracurmin-Pro products produces much better results than other supplemental forms of curcumin.”

NAD turned its attention to claims related to the bioavailability of Theracurmin. Following its review of the evidence in the record, NAD determined that the advertiser had provided a reasonable basis for a claim that Theracurmin is more bioavailable on a milligram-to-milligram basis than two competing products – BCM-95 and Meriva.

However, NAD recommended that the advertiser discontinue its claim that “Theracurmin increases curcumin levels in a linear and dose-dependent manner, bypassing previous limits to curcumin supplementation to achieve unparalleled blood levels of curcumin,” because when Theracurmin, Meriva and BCM-95 are taken in consumer relevant amounts, the resulting blood levels of curcumin are essentially the same.

NAD noted in its decision that the advertiser’s superior bioavailability claims were not limited to comparisons to Meriva and BCM-95, but rather to the whole curcumin supplement market, including:

  • “the most absorbable curcumin on the market,”
  • “clinically proven as the most bioavailable curcumin,”
  • “number one absorbed form of curcumin,”
  • “combining the use of natural emulsifiers to form a colloidal suspension had tremendously increased curcumin’s bioavailability, significantly increasing blood levels of curcumin many times that of other preparations, including so-called enhanced forms of curcumin.

NAD precedent holds that an advertiser may have reasonable basis for a market superiority claim if it has tested its products against a substantial portion of competing products available in the U.S. marketplace.  In this case, as support for its claims, the advertiser submitted report  data from the research firm SPINS which demonstrated that unenhanced curcumin supplements, plus enhanced curcumin supplements that contain either Meriva, Theracurcmin or BCM-95, comprise well over 85% of the market for curcumin supplements.

However, NAD was concerned that the SPINS report did not include sales data from larger national chains – Wal-Mart or Walgreen’s, for example. NAD recommended that the advertiser modify claims that position Theracurmin as superior to all other competing products in terms of bioavailability, by clearly and conspicuously limiting such claims to the market data reflected in the SPINS report – a market comprised of the natural health and other specialty stores.

The company, in its advertiser’s statement, said it would take NAD’s recommendations into consideration in future advertising.