Can Turmeric Help Arthritis?
Turmeric has been used in both Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic medicine for many years as an effective anti- inflammatory. I hear more and more stories of people using it, particularly to help Arthritis. But ‘Can Turmeric Help Arthritis?’ ‘What does the science say?’ ‘What dosage should you take?’ ‘How can you incorporate Turmeric into your diet?’ and ‘When shouldn’t you take turmeric?’
Can Turmeric Help Arthritis?
As I sip on my turmeric tea when writing this, I wonder just how effective turmeric is? Is drinking it, purely a placebo effect because we think it is good for us? From my point of view, I don’t suffer From arthritis but I like to drink turmeric tea because I believe that it is good for me and I also believe that it holds anti- inflammatory properties.
I don’t think I am dissimilar from a lot of people, we take something because we think or have read that it is healthy and therefore may as well have it, provided that it does not have any side effects.
If you suffer from arthritis you might be looking for alternatives from conventional medicine that might help with your symptoms, and turmeric might well hold the key. Arthritis is a long term chronic condition, and there are around 100 different forms. Characterized by chronic inflammation in one or more joints. The causes of the disease are often different, but the symptoms and treatment can be the same.
Having seen a friend recently diagnosed with arthritis, I have seen just how debilitating and painful it can be. NSAIDs such as Ibuprofen are often prescribed to reduce inflammation, but this is not favoured by some doctors as research has indicated that there is a higher risk of heart attack and stroke when taking NSAIDs, and the long term use of NSAIDs is not recommended due to its gastrointestinal and cardiovascular adverse effects. There also appears to be risks of stroke and heart attack even in the short term, see the article here: https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/fda-strengthens-warning-that-nsaids-increase-heart-attack-and-stroke-risk-201507138138. Alternatives, to using NSAIDs are therefore necessary to help with this painful condition.
What Does The Science Say?
A systematic review and meta- analysis of studies provided scientific evidence that 8-12 weeks of turmeric extract treatment reduced arthritis symptoms, mainly from pain and inflammation. Results showed similar improvements to those used with Ibuprofen and Diclofenac but did not have the side effects associated with the use of these.
See the study here https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5003001/
Turmeric contains a yellow pigmented fraction that consists of curcuminoids with the main ingredient being curcumin. It is the curcumin that has the beneficial effect- however, the bioavailability of curcumin is poor.
How To Make Turmeric Better Absorbed In the body?
Turmeric is fat soluble, so it is better absorbed in the body when eaten with a fat, such as coconut oil, or almond milk. Also, heating it up increases the solubility of curcumin. Combining turmeric with black pepper is also thought to increase its bioavailability by it being directly absorbed into the bloodstream through the lymphatic system.
How Can You Incorporate Turmeric Into Your Diet?
You can take turmeric as a supplement in its capsule form, or buy it in its natural form. Turmeric in its natural form is a root and looks a bit like a ginger root with orange flesh. In some countries, you can buy this easily, and if I could buy it in its fresh form I would also use this and add it to curries and other dishes.
I also like drinking turmeric as a tea, and regularly drink Pukka’s Turmeric Gold, there are also many other flavours available you can easily buy from your local health food shops and supermarkets.
Eating healthy curries using curry powder is also another good way of incorporating it into your diet, with the majority of curry powders that you buy containing both turmeric and black pepper. Curries almost always contain some kind of fat such as coconut milk and are heated up, so containing all the elements needed to make the turmeric better absorbed in your body.
Here is one of my recipes containing turmeric that you might like to try.
What Dosage Should I Take?
It is recommended that up to a dosage of 1,200mg per day was considered to be safe and did not produce side effects. This equates to about ½ teaspoon a day if you are adding it to foods, or adding it to a cup of warm milk such as in the recipe below:
‘When Shouldn’t You Take Turmeric?’
If you take Warfarin, or other blood thinning medication then taking turmeric is not recommended, turmeric is also not recommended if you take NSAID’s. Diabetics also need to take advice from their doctor before taking turmeric, since turmeric can have an effect on your blood sugar levels. But, as a general rule if you are on any medications, then you should consult your doctor before taking turmeric.
People that would like to start taking turmeric and are not on any medications, should also ensure that they don’t take too much turmeric other than the recommended dosage to avoid any side effects. High doses of curcumin in turmeric has been found to alter iron metabolism causing an iron deficiency in some people.
For a full list of possible interactions with turmeric see the link below: