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Tetrahydrocurcumin vs Curcumin: What Are The Differences?

Release time:2023/2/14 15:10:50
Author:Huateng Pharma

What is the difference between curcumin and Tetrahydrocurcumin?

In 1842, Vogel et al. isolated curcumin, a yellow crystalline substance, from turmeric (Curcuma longa). Curcumin is currently one of the largest-selling natural food colorings in the world and is a food additive approved for use by the World Health Organization and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. In recent years, research on the different physiological and pharmacological effects of curcumin has also made significant progress around the world.

In 1910, V. Lampe and J. Milobedeska further determined the structure of tetrahydrocurcumin (THC), a colorless or white metabolite of curcumin. It is more hydrophilic than curcumin and has been used as raw material for various skin care products in the research and development of cosmetics, which has a broad development prospect.

Tetrahydrocurcumin vs Curcumin


Figure. Tetrahydrocurcumin vs Curcumin

1. Tetrahydrocurcumin, structurally, has no unsaturated C=C double bond compared to  curcumin, so it lacks the conjugated double bond required for chromophores, thus the color of tetrahydrocurcumin changes from the yellow color of curcumin to white.

2. Compared with curcumin, tetrahydrocurcumin is more stable, has stronger antioxidant properties and is more bioavailable than curcumin, making tetrahydrocurcumin more widely used.

3. Tetrahydrocurcumin and curcumin have the similar efficacy in anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, whitening, and wound healing, but tetrahydrocurcumin also has excellent ability to enhance skin radiance and improve skin dullness and yellowing.

Tetrahydrocurcumin Curcumin
OriginHydrogenated   derivatives of curcuminIsolated from turmeric (curcuma longa)
Molecular structureTetrahydrocurcumin, structurally, has no unsaturated C=C double bond compared to  curcumin.
PropertyHigh stability, stronger antioxidant properties, higher bioavailabilityPoor solubility, relatively unstable structure, low bioavailability
ApplicationHigh-end cosmeticsHealth care products, functional foods

Table. Tetrahydrocurcumin vs Curcumin

Effects of Tetrahydrocurcumin


Tetrahydrocurcumin can effectively inhibit tyrosinase and slow the production of melanin, moreover, it is more effective than whitening agents such as tretinoin, arbutin and vitamin C. At the same time, the powerful antioxidant activity of tetrahydrocurcumin can also slow down melanin production, thus brightening the skin tone and achieving whitening effect.

In a study randomized to a double-blind placebo-controlled trial of 50 subjects, researchers found that a cream with 0.25% tetrahydrocurcumin was more effective and safer than a cream with 4% hydroquinone (a skin depigmenting agent banned in cosmetics) in depigmenting formulation. [2]


The process of skin inflammation is complex. Tetrahydrocurcumin prevents skin inflammation including erythema formation on the one hand and reduces wrinkles as well as maintains skin elasticity and anti-aging on the other hand, mainly by inhibiting major inflammatory mediators such as cyclooxygenase, lipoxygenase, interferon, transcription factor and nuclear transcription factor (NF-KB).


Tetrahydrocurcumin has a variety of antioxidant functional groups, such as polyphenols and ß-biketones, which make it possess strong antioxidant activity and the ability to scavenge superoxide and peroxide. On the one hand, tetrahydrocurcumin can scavenge the generated free radicals, and on the other hand, it can inhibit the further generation of free radicals and break the chain reaction of free radicals. This dual effect can make skin cells resist UV damage and maintain skin health.

According to a study in a well-known American journal (J. Am. Chem. Soc.), natural curcumin has 2.33 times more antioxidant power than bioflavonoids, 1.6 times more than vitamin E and 2.75 times more than vitamin C.

After continuous process upgrading, Huateng Pharma has produced tetrahydrocurcumin, a cosmetic whitening ingredient, with white color, high purity and low cost. Contact us at sales@huatengusa.com, we have a large stock of tetrahydrocurcumin.

[1] Aggarwal, B.B.; Deb, L.; Prasad, S. Curcumin Differs from Tetrahydrocurcumin for Molecular Targets, Signaling Pathways and Cellular Responses. Molecules 2015, 20, 185-205. https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules20010185
[2] A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, comparative study https://sabinsa.com/newsroom/articles/SabiWhite.pdf

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