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How Turmeric Can Treat Arthritis Pain and Inflammation

Curcumin, the active compound present in turmeric, is believed to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that are beneficial for rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.

By JointXL Plus Staff Updated on
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What Is Turmeric?

Turmeric has been in use for over 4000 years in Southeast Asia. This bright yellow spice was not only used in teas and curries; it was also used in traditional medicine. Recently, turmeric use has skyrocketed because of its numerous health benefits. Turmeric’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory capabilities take center stage as they help prevent or treat diseases such as arthritis, cancer, and ulcerative colitis.

The active compound in turmeric is curcumin which has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anticancer, and neuroprotective properties. Since arthritis is known to cause pain and inflammation around the joints, the use of turmeric could ease these symptoms.

In this post we take a deep look at this superfood’s health benefits, how it can improve symptoms, and how you can include it in your daily life for better health.

Does Turmeric Work for Arthritis Pain and Inflammation Symptoms?

For arthritis pain and inflammation, curcumin is the active compound responsible for relief. Turmeric contains about 2% to 9% of this compound. According to a systematic review published in the BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine journal, curcumin extract was found to have benefits on knee osteoarthritis and pain function. In fact, curcumin’s effects were found to be similar to that of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

Clinical trials in a 2016 study were reviewed to establish the efficacy of turmeric extracts and curcumin in alleviating the symptoms of joint arthritis. These randomized controlled trials proved that 1000mg/day of curcumin was effective in the treatment of arthritis.

Apart from pain relief, curcumin inhibits inflammation. A review study in the Food and Toxicology journal clarifies that curcumin blocks cytokines and enzymes that cause inflammation. According to the study, curcumin could be a therapeutic option for the treatment of arthritis, diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Turmeric Benefits for Treating Arthritis Pain and Inflammation

1. Provides anti-inflammatory effects

Arthritis causes swelling and tenderness of the joints. Curcumin has anti-inflammatory effects which help reduce swelling in the joints thus improving flexibility and function. It has been discovered that inflammatory cells liberate a number of reactive species at the site of inflammation thereby causing oxidative stress. These reactive species in turn enhance pro-inflammatory gene expression. Curcumin has been shown to suppress inflammation through various mechanisms.

2. Boosts antioxidant activities

Studies show that curcumin improves systemic markers of oxidative stress. It can increase the serum activities of antioxidants and can scavenge different forms of radicals, including reactive oxygen and nitrogen species. Curcumin can also inhibit ROS-generating enzymes such as lipoxygenase. Since curcumin is a lipophilic compound, it is considered an efficient scavenger of peroxyl radicals.

3. Supports arthritis management

It provides relief for arthritis symptoms such as pain, tenderness, stiffness, and tightness. This makes living with arthritis more bearable.

4. Improves quality of life for arthritis sufferers

Arthritis limits joint mobility and flexibility which makes life hard on its sufferers. Curcumin helps to alleviate arthritis symptoms thus improving joint movement. With this supplement, you can go back to living life again.

5. Natural remedy with minimal side effects

While arthritis does not have a cure, there are many pharmaceutical options for arthritis management. However, most of these treatments are quite costly and have undesirable side effects. Curcumin is therefore considered to be a natural alternative with minimal side effects.

How to Take Turmeric for Arthritis Pain and Inflammation?

Turmeric’s versatility makes it easy to introduce it into your diet. To make it stress-free turmeric stem (rhizome) is usually boiled, dried, and ground into powder which can be used as:

As a spice – in smoothies, salads, and curries. Some condiments such as mustard also have turmeric which is a win for consumers. As a spice, turmeric is used in tiny amounts which could not have the effect that is expected. However, to boost curcumin’s absorption, add black pepper to the mix and enjoy the curcumin goodness.

As a tea – you can find ready-made turmeric teas online or make your own turmeric tea by following these steps:

  • Add 2 cups of water in a pot, 1 teaspoon turmeric powder, and ½ teaspoon black pepper, and bring it to a boil
  • Allow it to boil for about 10 to 15 minutes
  • Add honey, lemon, or milk as per your preference

As a supplement – alternatively, you can take turmeric as a supplement. These supplements feature concentrated forms of curcumin in capsule or tablet form. Most experts prefer this method of taking turmeric as the extracts used are of high quality and bioavailability. Select products containing 95% curcumin, black pepper (piperine), antioxidants, phospholipids, or nanoparticles.

Key Information to Know Before Using Turmeric

Turmeric and its active chemical component curcumin are considered to be generally safe. While these two supplements are safe, they can cause side effects if you consume high doses of curcumin. It is recommended to take 500mg of curcumin twice daily for both osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

Curcumin can interact with medication which can interfere with its effectiveness. This may impact your health negatively. For this reason, ensure to consult your doctor before using curcumin supplements if you are using prescription drugs for:

  • Blood thinners
  • Cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Inflammation

Piperine present in curcumin supplements may also interfere with medications such as propranolol (Inderal which is used to treat tremors, high blood pressure, and other conditions) and phenytoin (Dilantin, an anti-epileptic drug).

Additionally, curcumin is fat soluble meaning it readily breaks down and dissolves in oil or fat. Going by this information, it is therefore important to take a high-fat meal when taking curcumin supplements as it will increase curcumin’s bioavailability.

Risks of Taking Turmeric for Arthritis Discomfort

As we mentioned earlier, turmeric has some side effects when consumed in large amounts. In a dose-response study, researchers established that adverse reactions were found in subjects using 500mg to 12,000mg of curcumin daily. Out of 24 participants, only seven complained of headaches, skin rash, and diarrhea.

Long-term effects of using turmeric can increase the risk of kidney stone formation. In an 8-week crossover study, subjects were required to take doses of cinnamon and turmeric for 4-week periods that provided 55mg oxalate per day. Oxalate load tests were then conducted and the percentage of oxalate soluble in water for cinnamon was 6% while that of turmeric was 91%, which proved that turmeric increased urinary oxalate excretion.

Additionally, curcumin has anticoagulant activities which help to increase the time it takes for blood to clot. According to the BMP Reports, curcumin and its derivative bisdemethoxycurcumin (BDMC) possess antithrombotic activities. Therefore, daily consumption of this spice can maintain anticoagulant status which can be dangerous during major bleeding and hemorrhage.

Lastly, turmeric from some parts of the world (such as Bangladesh) contains dangerous levels of lead as per the Food and Drug Administration reports. Curcumin from this type of turmeric can have adverse effects on health.

Other Scientifically Proven Benefits of Turmeric

Turmeric is a wonder spice that not only helps with arthritis but also provides other numerous health benefits including:

1. Boost brain-derived neurotrophic factor

The brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is responsible for learning and memory in the brain. It also boosts the formation of new neuron connections and increases of existing ones. Human studies suggest that curcumin increases BDNF in adult men and women which could help reduce the risk of depression and Alzheimer’s disease that is associated with decreased levels of BDNF.

2. Reduce the risk of heart disease

Cardiac diseases have been considered to be the leading cause of mortality worldwide. According to a research study in the Aging journal, 12 weeks of curcumin supplementation improved resistance artery endothelial function by increasing vascular nitric oxide bioavailability and reducing oxidative stress. It also improves conduit artery endothelial function.

3. Enhances cancer treatment

Many studies agree that curcumin improves different forms of cancer. One particular study clarifies that curcumin can destroy cancerous cells, diminish the growth of new blood vessels in tumors (angiogenesis), and reduce the spread of cancer (metastasis).

4. Prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimer’s disease contributes to a large percentage of dementia causes. Both oxidative stress and inflammation are known to play major roles in this disease. Curcumin has been found to be beneficial in the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease as it maintains the normal structure and function of cerebral vessels, mitochondria, and synapses. In the Neural Regeneration Research, curcumin’s mechanisms of action in improving this disease include; anti-amyloid and metal iron chelating properties, antioxidation, and anti-inflammatory activities.

5. Improves depression

Curcumin can also help treat mood disorders such as depression. It works to boost brain neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin, reduces inflammation, and enhances brain plasticity. All of these make it an effective antidepressant as per studies in the Frontiers in Psychiatry.

Should I Use It?

Turmeric packs lots of health benefits thus it is worth a try. Backed by numerous research studies, there is scientific evidence that proves this herb is not just a spice in curries, but an alternative pain relief for arthritis pain and inflammation.

While it is generally safe, you should be sure to consult your healthcare provider before starting to use it. This is especially important if you have an underlying health condition or are under medication as curcumin interferes with some prescription drugs.

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you should also confirm with your doctor whether it is safe for you to use curcumin or not.

As earlier mentioned, curcumin is better used as a supplement as you can harness its optimal potential in this state. In curries or lattes, the curcumin present is quite minute and may not achieve the anti-inflammation and pain relief that you are looking for.

However, if you are looking for flavor and a little bit of healthy goodness in your meals, you can use turmeric in whichever way you see fit.

When looking for curcumin supplements for your joint pain, make sure to go for reputable brands that have been in the market for quite some time. Such brands have websites where you can learn more about their product and ask questions where needed. Purchasing from these brands will ensure you get value for your money.

Apart from the brand, check out the curcumin percentage in the product you are purchasing. 95% and above is quite a good range. Apart from that, ensure your supplement of choice contains black pepper extract (piperine) as it improves curcumin’s bioavailability.

In your next joint pain supplement hunting check out for JointXL Plus. It is a powerful all-natural joint health formula that promises to deliver results fast. 93% of users reported a significant decrease in joint pain and stiffness in just 4 weeks!

Developed by a team of healthcare professionals, JointXL Plus works to reduce joint pain, improve mobility and flexibility, enhance tissue repair, boost cartilage regeneration, and prevent joint degeneration. It has a 60-day money-back guarantee which means you are buying it risk-free.

FAQs

What is turmeric?

Turmeric is a bright yellow spice used in Southeast Asia for over 4000 years, known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and used to treat various conditions like arthritis, cancer, and ulcerative colitis.

How does turmeric help with arthritis pain and inflammation?

The active compound in turmeric, curcumin, has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that help reduce swelling, pain, and improve joint flexibility and function.

What scientific evidence supports the use of turmeric for arthritis?

Studies have shown that curcumin extract in turmeric can alleviate knee osteoarthritis pain and function similarly to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

What are the benefits of turmeric for treating arthritis pain and inflammation?

Turmeric provides anti-inflammatory effects, boosts antioxidant activities, supports arthritis management, improves the quality of life for arthritis sufferers, and is a natural remedy with minimal side effects.

How should I take turmeric for arthritis pain and inflammation?

Turmeric can be taken as a spice, tea, or supplement. Supplements with concentrated curcumin are preferred for their high quality and bioavailability, especially when combined with black pepper extract (piperine).

What are the key things to know before using turmeric?

While turmeric is generally safe, it can interact with medications and should be taken with a high-fat meal for better absorption. It's recommended to consult with a healthcare provider before use, especially if on prescription drugs.

Are there any risks of taking turmeric for arthritis discomfort?

High doses of turmeric can cause side effects like headaches, skin rash, diarrhea, and an increased risk of kidney stones. It also has anticoagulant properties, which can be dangerous during major bleeding.

Should I use turmeric supplements for arthritis?

Turmeric is backed by scientific evidence for its health benefits and is worth trying. However, consult your healthcare provider before starting, especially if you have underlying health conditions or are on medication.

Sources

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  5. Lao CD, Ruffin MT 4th, Normolle D, Heath DD, Murray SI, Bailey JM, Boggs ME, Crowell J, Rock CL, Brenner DE. Dose escalation of a curcuminoid formulation. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2006 Mar 17;6:10. doi: 10.1186/1472-6882-6-10. PMID: 16545122; PMCID: PMC1434783. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1434783/
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