Can Turmeric Help Pain of Arthritis?
There has been a lot of discussion about whether taking turmeric can ‘help’ arthritis sufferers.
The question is if it can, how and in what way does it help?
Does it slow down the development of arthritis or stop it or ease the pain or help reduce stiffness?
‘Help’ sounds great if you are in pain as a result of arthritis but if you expect one thing and it cannot deliver what you expect then you should not be wasting your money!
I looked at the best research studies available to find the answer.
What is arthritis?
Artho means joint and itis means inflammation. There are more than 100 forms of arthritis, osteoarthritis being the most common. It is something that happens to our joints as we age and is entirely normal. This is because the older we get, the body finds it more difficult to supress inflammation, we lose muscle mass (sarcopaenia) so we get weaker and so the joints are less protected by the muscles surrounding them and we have faster turnover of bone, so we develop boney ‘spurs’ around our joints, such as those ‘lumps’ you can see on your finger joints sometimes.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease which involves general inflammation and destroys joints so you see people with fingers that seem to be bent abnormally.
What causes arthritis?
We know it is associated with inflammation and pain but the exact cause is not certain. Thus it cannot be prevented. Treatment therefore can only aim at reducing pain that is caused by the inflammation, daily activities and muscle strains. This treatment usually involves the use of medication such as NSAIDS (non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs). They do help but they also cause bleeding in the stomach lining if taken for long periods as well as heart problems, immune issues and the more you take them the less effective they are at reducing pain. Thus we need to look for alternatives as arthritis is a long-term disease.
What is turmeric?
Turmeric or curcuma longa (turmeric) and zingiber officnale (ginger) have been used for many years in India, Pakistan and surrounding areas to reduce inflammation.
What does the research say?
If you are going to try a treatment or take a remedy, you need to know that it has been researched well and that you are not going to be wasting your money. The research has to be respected. You need to know that what you are about to take does not react adversely to any other medication you are taking.
A study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food 2016 Aug 1;19 (8) 717 – 729 looked at all the research that had been produced and although they said that not enough people had been used to produce a definitive recommendation for the use of curcumin as a treatment for arthritis, they said that there was enough proof to recommend using it as a dietary aid to conventional therapy
How does it work?
It has found to be safe and well tolerated by most. If taken in too high a dose, nausea and diarrhoea have been reported but no toxic effects were seen.
You need to take less than 2000 mg per day for pain relief.
Turmeric cannot repair joints or stop those ‘spurs’ from developing or the joint deformation that you see in rheumatoid arthritis but it is effective as a pain reliever.
If you can get some relief and take it long term without experiencing the side effects of NSAIDS then it has to be worth considering.
Like anything, it is worth trying it out for a few months and see how you feel – all you have to lose is the pain you experience.
Don’t forget that the stronger the muscles are around the joints and the more you move around, the better you will feel too … yes – that means exercising!