There is growing evidence that this brightly colored herb related to ginger is a promising disease fighting entity due to its anti-inflammatory properties. New research suggests turmeric can be used effectively for the treatment of osteoarthritis.
Turmeric is one of the primary spices in curry and is thought to have many healing properties. It is found in the stems of the curcuma long plant – part of the ginger family. It gives Indian curry that yellow color. It is one of the most frequently mentioned medicinal herbs and over 6000 peer-reviewed articles have been published about it and the primary ingredient, curcumin. This compound is known to have strong anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Turmeric is thought to have multiple health benefits for a variety of conditions including laryngitis, bronchitis, depression, diabetes, arthritis, high cholesterol and more. In fact, there is evidence that turmeric supplements may have many more health benefits.
Benefits of turmeric and curcumin for knee osteoarthritis
Curcumin has been shown to reduce the pain of osteoarthritis and improve pain, physical activity level and quality of life. A 2014 study in Japan gave 180mg of Theracurcmin (a brand name for medicinal turmeric) to patients for 8 weeks. Pain scores were significantly lower than the placebo group. There were no observed side effects.
A recent analysis of available good quality studies (randomized controlled trials) showed a statistically significant reduction in pain and increase in activity level in comparison with placebo, but showed that the spice was similar to taking anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen.
Lab studies have shown that curcumin may help or prevent several cancers, including prostate, breast, skin and colon cancer.
Turmeric dosing for osteoarthritis
While there is no scientifically studied dose or recommended dose by the FDA, I have seen recommended doses in the 400mg to 600mg range. Take this three to four times a day. There is some evidence that its absorption is improved when taken with black pepper. Find a supplement that contains both.
Dangers of Turmeric
The primary active compound, curcumin, may result in decreased blood sugar and should be used with caution in diabetics. It also may change how easily blood can clot which may increase the risk of bruising or bleeding. Patients taking blood thinning medications like coumadin, xarelto or eliquis should avoid turmeric. If you just had surgery you should avoid using turmeric if on a blood thinner.
Turmeric can cause heartburn, or an upset stomach. Pregnant women should check with their doctor first, and avoid it if you have gallstones.
As with any such naturopathic treatment, check with your doctor to see if it is something you could consider.