I get asked a lot on this particular use of turmeric and it's about time that I answer this question for everyone.
They have heard from their friends and neighbors that taking turmeric for arthritis really reduced the pain and allowed them to do all the stuff that they used to.
And they swear by it.
Given how compelling their friend's testimony was, these skeptical individuals approach me and wanted confirming evidence that this was the case. So what do I tell them?
In two words, it works.
Turmeric, a very popular spice used in cooking, is long known to possess antiinflammatory activities. In many parts of the world, people take this herb to help fight off various health conditions that involve inflammation.
Indeed, it is widely used to treat arthritis pain and it even has be reported to be used to help cancer patients.
But you don't have to take my word. I'll review the key studies that show this fact to be true.
In 2010, osteoarthritis of the knee and hips affects about 3.8% of the world's population. In United States alone, 27 million individuals suffer from this debilitating condition.
Any natural remedies that can help combat this painful condition will be welcomed as this condition causes several pain and limits mobility of the affected joints.
Let's look at three studies done by researchers to address this particular benefit of taking turmeric.
In the first clinic, the researchers enrolled 107 volunteers who all suffer from knee osteoarthritis. The volunteers were randomly assigned to either take 2 grams of curcumin or 800 mg of ibuprofen daily over a six week period.
What did the volunteer have to do to determine if their pain were reduced? They were asked to walk 100 meter and to climb up and down a flight of stairs.
In addition, the researchers also carefully recorded any side effects that were reported by the volunteers.
Here's the two key findings from this study. One, the reported side effects were the same whether they took turmeric or ibuprofen; there were no difference. Second, turmeric is as effective as ibuprofen for reducing knee pain.
Indeed, this study offers good evidence that turmeric, a natural supplement, can really help with reducing knee arthritis pain and improve mobility.
In the second study, involving 120 patients, the benefit of turmeric also showed up. Volunteers were randomized to take either 500 mg twice daily of NR-INF-02 (an extract of turmeric), a matching placebo capsule or glucosamine sulfate (750 mg twice daily).
To ensure that they are objective in recording the benefits reported, they followed VAS (Visual Analog Scale) and WOMAC (Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index).
As well, the joint quality was examined by a orthopaedic specialist using the standard scale GCIS (Clinician Global Impression Change). These are well recognized standard used to evaluate the quality of the joint and pain.
Here's what they discovered.
NR-INF-02 showed significant benefit on the quality of the joint using VAS, WOMAC and the CGIC scales. As well, this supplement showed no significant side effects compared to volunteers who took the matching placebo pill.
The conclusion from this study is that NR-INF-02, this customized extract of turmeric, does work for painful knee osteoarthritis. I believe other standardized extracts would work as well too, as shown in the third study below.
Here's the final study we will look at.
The same group of researchers, who conducted the first research study, repeated the experiment with a larger group of volunteers. This time, they recruited 367 patients. They compared 1,200 mg per day of ibuprofen with 1,500 mg of curcumin extract over a four week period.
You might ask, why researchers would want to repeat an experiment when the first one showed that it worked?
That's the nature of scientific research. One study is not enough, no matter how compelling. Moreover, some earlier studies involving only a smaller number of subjects (tens to hundreds) needs to be shown to have consistent results when compared a larger group of volunteer. Indeed, most high-quality clinical drug trials involve thousands to tens of thousands of subjects.
This difference between this study and the first one discussed above, is that the researchers used the standard WOMAC to assess knee function.
The results of this study, using a standardized criteria, showed the same results as the one done years ago. The conclusion is inescapable.
An extract of curcumin is as effective as ibuprofen for knee osteoarthritis.
As an added bonus, they also find that curcumin had less stomach-related side effects than ibuprofen.
As the researchers commented in their concluding statement, "most subjects (96%-97%) were satisfied with the treatment."
Does turmeric work for osteoarthritis joint pain?
A resounding YES. And multiple studies prove this.Why not try turmeric first before taking non-prescription pain medication?
Considering the low cost of turmeric and the low risk of side effects, it would be worth trying for several months at the least.
Since the active ingredient found in turmeric that "gets the job done" is curcumin, consider taking standardized curcumin capsules instead of the raw herb. This way, you'll know exactly how much of the active ingredient you are getting. This will help with you to adjust the dosage accurately which is what you need to do to find the appropriate dose for your specific needs.
In other words, we always encourage taking standardized extracts of herbs when possible. Indeed, reputable manufacturers, will always standardize their formulation to the known active ingredients.
And if you are not clear about the relationship between turmeric and its active ingredient curcumin, find out the conversion factor in the article Turmeric to Curcumin Equivalence and Dosing Guidelines.
There are some potential side effects from taking large quantities of turmeric even these events are very small as clinical studies have shown.
These side effects are fully discussed in the detailed review of the health benefits of turmeric.
And, remember there are many other herbs and supplements used by many people around the world in treating arthritis pain.
for Find out what other herbs and supplements are. You might be surprised to find that you recognize the names of many of them.