[Editors' Choice Winner: Supplements and Ingredients]

Curcumin is red hot. More accurately, it’s yellow hot. This phenol, which provides the Indian herb turmeric its bold school-bus color, also has myriad research-backed health benefits when taken as a supplement. This is why consumers are increasingly turning to curcumin for help with chronic pain, joint support, cognitive function, and more. Nutrition Business Journal estimates that U.S. consumer sales of curcumin- and turmeric-based supplements grew an impressive 25 percent to $135 million in 2013.

Gaia Herbs stands at the forefront of this exploding market with its Turmeric Supreme line of curcumin extracts. The latest development from this company is extension of the Turmeric Supreme line into condition-specific subsets. For joint discomfort, Gaia offers Turmeric Supreme Joint with Boswellia and Devil’s Claw. For nighttime inflammation, there’s Turmeric Supreme Pain P.M. with feverfew, kava kava, and valerian. Building this condition-specific line around an ingredient as promising as curcumin will help elevate this ingredient into a category all its own, not unlike omega-3s and probiotics.

We've long wondered whether curcumin will eventually overtake the stagnant glucosamine/chondroitin category as the premier joint health ingredient on the supplement market. And now, with Gaia pioneering at the boundaries of this market, we see big things for curcumin to come in the future.

Beyond its forward-thinking approach to product development, what really sets Gaia apart from other herbal supplements companies is its traceability, transparency, and sustainability efforts. The company helped create EarthBottle, a plant-based packaging material for supplements and body-care products. Gaia also grows 40 to 50 crops a year on a 250-acre organic farm in western North Carolina, and has supported an 800-acre botanical sanctuary and medicinal plant research farm in Costa Rica.

In addition, Gaia introduced the industry’s first traceability program, MeetYourHerbs. This interactive tool allow consumers to type a product identification number into Gaia’s website (gaiaherbs.com) or mobile application, and track the geographical source and potency of ingredients, check the genus and species of plants used, study purity testing results, and more. This effort hasn’t gone unnoticed. The American Herbal Product Association chose Gaia for the Herbal Industry Leader award in 2010, the year MeetYourHerbs was released. And Gaia founder Ric Scalzo was inducted into the New Hope Natural Media Hall of Legends in 2014 for a lifetime of commitment to transparency in a notoriously opaque industry.

Learn more at gaiaherbs.com, or follow @GaiaHerbs on Twitter.

Every year at Natural Products Expo West, editors and trend researchers from New Hope Natural Media and Sterling-Rice Group scour the show floor to find the products and brands they predict will shape the future of the natural products industry. The best of the best receive NEXTY nominations, which recognize the companies that embody not only the most innovative edge of the natural products industry, but also its deeply held social and environmental values. www.nextknows.com