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Turmeric For Arthritis: Some Golden Spice To Ease Your Pain

Turmeric For Arthritis

Turmeric is an easily available spice that may benefit those with osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The curcumin in it has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It could even help protect against cartilage damage and oxidative stress linked to the progress of arthritis and aid cartilage regeneration. Turmeric may also ease the pain, swelling, joint stiffness, and inflammation you experience due to your RA or OA. If you respond well to it, it might even bring about an improvement in joint function.

Turmeric is that golden remedy which has a therapeutic effect on the body and can fight a host of ailments, including arthritis. Whether consumed on its own or along with other natural ingredients in herbal remedies, the curcumin in turmeric may be the antidote to your pain and discomfort. Here’s how it can help.

Tackles Both Osteoarthritis And Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms

Both rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and osteoarthritis (OA) cause pain and joint symptoms, but they are two different issues. OA involves the destruction of joint cartilage mainly due to wear and tear, while RA has autoimmune origins and causes inflammatory joint symptoms.1 The good news is, turmeric has benefits regardless of which kind of arthritis you have.2

Reduces Joint Swelling And Pain

The pain of arthritis likely impacts your quality of life more than anything else. Turmeric holds promise on this front and is being studied as a natural supplement that could help ease swelling, joint pain, and related problems in those with the ailment. Trials have found that taking turmeric supplements daily can result in long-term improvement in function and pain in those with arthritis.3

In one pilot study on its effectiveness for RA, turmeric was found to ease swelling as well as joint pain, even outperforming a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug.4 Another study on people with OA saw a face-off between turmeric and ibuprofen. Those who took a 2 gm dose of turmeric every day reported lower pain levels while climbing stairs than those who took the ibuprofen. The pain level while walking improved as did knee function.5

Suppresses Inflammation In OA

The curcumin in turmeric is anti-inflammatory and can help suppress the production as well as action of pro-inflammatory cytokines. These proteins are responsible for cell signaling in inflammatory pathways in the body. By thwarting their activity, turmeric can ease inflammation in those with OA.6 7

Prevents Cartilage Degradation And Protects Cartilage

Another big benefit of turmeric? The curcumin in it has a protective effect on the body’s cartilage. The wearing down of the cartilage is central to the progression of OA. By relieving joint cartilage degeneration, curcumin can help ease symptoms and may even slow down the worsening of your condition.

Curcumin is also said to reduce cartilage inflammation – a problem experienced in RA and OA – and boost the activity of chondrocytes that are responsible for creating and maintaining the cartilage matrix.8 Treatment with curcumin may, therefore, help regenerate cartilage by creating the right environment.9

Fights Oxidative Stress Associated With Arthritis

Oxidative stress has a role to play in the way your OA plays out and progresses. Which is why antioxidant supplements are being explored as potential alternatives or as additional therapy for managing conditions like knee OA. Of the variety of antioxidant supplements on the market, curcumin has shown a significant effect on function and pain relief.10

One piece of research studied the effect of turmeric in countering the effects of oxidative stress on people with mild to moderate OA. The subjects took 1500 mg of curcuminoid capsules a day, along with piperine to improve the bioavailability of the turmeric compounds in the body. After 6 weeks, it was found that systemic oxidative stress had eased. The researchers were able to confirm that the antioxidant effect of the natural remedy may help relieve OA symptoms.11

Works As Adjuvant Therapy With Other Anti-Arthritic Treatments

While the benefits of turmeric on its own are reason enough to give this remedy a closer look, some evidence also suggests it could improve quality of life and provide better pain relief for patients on other medication. In one instance, patients who were already taking 75 mg of diclofenac sodium to manage their knee OA were given 1000 mg of curcuminoids daily along with their regular medication. And while there was no statistically significant difference overall, the group that took the curcuminoids tended to have better results on function in daily living as well as pain.12 So even if you do not go all out with turmeric, you could try it alongside your other treatments to manage arthritis.

How Much Turmeric To Have

If you have OA, limit intake in capsule form to no more than 400 to 600 mg thrice daily. Alternatively, if you’re using the powdered root in herbal remedies or cooking, be sure to have not more than 3 gm a day. A typical amount would be 0.5 to 1 gm, on average. If you have RA, a 500 mg dose taken twice a day will suffice. However, these are just indicative numbers from the Arthritis Foundation.13 You should consult a trained medical practitioner or naturopath for your individual case. Whatever the amount you consume, always buy the powder, root, or medication from a credible source. Be wary of unverified online sites where the purity of the product may be questionable.

Incorporate turmeric tea into your daily routine to protect against inflammation. Simply steep the root in warm water or boil the powder with water and sweeten with honey. You could also try a “golden milk” using a similar method but with milk or nondairy milk. Alternatively, add some to your meals. It blends seamlessly into soups and stews and even smoothies. Turmeric can also be paired with other anti-inflammatory foods like ginger or black pepper.

Turmeric Side Effects To Watch Out For

If you decide to try turmeric to treat or prevent arthritis, here is what you should know about adverse effects. Having very high quantities of it – medicinal doses as opposed to dietary amounts – can have some unpleasant side effects. The spice is a blood thinner – this can be a problem if you are already taking a blood thinner, and risky if you are pregnant, have gallbladder disease, or are scheduled to have surgery soon. Hypoglycemia is another possible risk for those who are diabetic and already on medication for lowering blood sugar. For others, a milder side effect and a sign that you’re having too much is a stomach upset. Some tend to develop ulcers as well, so make sure the herb agrees with you.14

References   [ + ]

1. Rheumatoid Arthritis vs. Osteoarthritis. Rheumatoid Arthritis Support Network.
2, 3, 4, 13. Turmeric. Arthritis Foundation.
5. Turmeric trials for osteoarthritis “Turmeric trials for osteoarthritis”). Arthritis Research UK.
6. Chattopadhyay, Ishita, Kaushik Biswas, Uday Bandyopadhyay, and Ranajit K. Banerjee. “Turmeric and curcumin: Biological actions and medicinal applications.” CURRENT SCIENCE-BANGALORE- 87 (2004): 44-53.
7. Shakibaei, Mehdi, Thilo John, Gundula Schulze-Tanzil, Ingo Lehmann, and Ali Mobasheri. “Suppression of NF-κB activation by curcumin leads to inhibition of expression of cyclo-oxygenase-2 and matrix metalloproteinase-9 in human articular chondrocytes: implications for the treatment of osteoarthritis.” Biochemical pharmacology 73, no. 9 (2007): 1434-1445.
8. Liu, J., X. He, P. Zhen, S. Zhou, and X. Li. “Inflammatory cytokines and oxidative stress markers in the inhibition of osteoarthritis by curcumin.” Zhejiang da xue xue bao. Yi xue ban= Journal of Zhejiang University. Medical sciences 45, no. 5 (2016): 461-468.
9. Buhrmann, Constanze, Ali Mobasheri, Ulrike Matis, and Mehdi Shakibaei. “Curcumin mediated suppression of nuclear factor-κB promotes chondrogenic differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells in a high-density co-culture microenvironment.” Arthritis research & therapy 12, no. 4 (2010): R127.
10. Grover, Ashok Kumar, and Sue E. Samson. “Benefits of antioxidant supplements for knee osteoarthritis: rationale and reality.” Nutrition journal 15, no. 1 (2016): 1.
11. Panahi, Yunes, Gholam Hossein Alishiri, Shahram Parvin, and Amirhossein Sahebkar. “Mitigation of systemic oxidative stress by curcuminoids in osteoarthritis: results of a randomized controlled trial.” Journal of dietary supplements 13, no. 2 (2016): 209-220.
12. Pinsornsak, Piya, and Sunyarn Niempoog. “The efficacy of Curcuma Longa L. extract as an adjuvant therapy in primary knee osteoarthritis: a randomized control trial.” J Med Assoc Thai 95, no. Suppl 1 (2012): S51-S58.
14. Turmeric. University of Maryland Medical center.

Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.