Turmeric has gained worldwide wellness fame do its concentration of curcuminoids – these are vital polyphenols which have antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal effects. Are you a golden latte fan? If so, you'll already be aware of some of the goodness of this flowering plant!
Curcumin has been studied for its effects on many facets of health, but a main focus has been osteoarthritis. This type of arthritis affects the whole joint (bone, cartilage, ligaments and muscles). The most common complaint is joint pain, which is due to the wearing down of the cartilage over time. Traditional treatments include medication, physiotherapy and even surgery. For this reason, the natural supplements turmeric and curcumin have been explored for their potential benefit to reduce pain symptoms and alleviate osteoarthritis.
How does Curcumin work?
As an antioxidant, curcumin neutralises free radicals that cause oxidative damage in your body. Curcumin appears to target particular pathways that control your cell's cycle. It acts to block inflammatory cytokines and enzymes, which makes it a topic of great interest in treating inflammatory conditions like osteoarthritis. It also promotes your body's antioxidant enzymes, making it doubly effective against the nasty free radicals!
Better than regular pain killers?
A scientific study found that taking turmeric extract three times a day was similar to taking a 1200mg dose of ibuprofen. This is excellent news, considering the intestinal side effects of ibuprofen were not felt with the turmeric! Though this provides an exciting move towards the use of more natural products for pain relief, more studies are needed to confirm the exact effects.
In a systematic review of the scientific studies, the authors concluded that the studies provide a solid justification for turmeric extract use as a dietary adjunct for pain relief. What does this mean for you? It means that curcumin is not a cure-all on its own, but can be a valuable supplement to consider in addition to your healthy eating and lifestyle for managing symptoms.
In another scientific review, it's concluded that the evidence shows turmeric extract in doses of about 1000mg per day can be useful in helping to treat arthritis. However, the size and method of the studies meant that larger, more drawn out studies are needed to confirm the therapeutic benefits to arthritis.
Did you know?
Curcumin isn't just for joint pain relief. Due to it's anti-inflammatory and health-promoting properties, it's been explored for a variety of different concerns. It's also a handy asset when faced with digestive distress, irritable bowel syndrome, liver damage, mental stress, menstrual discomfort, increasing insulin sensitivity, blood flow, reduction in blood glucose for those with type 2 diabetes, anxiety, inflammation, depression and more!
Note: not inflammation is harmful. Your body needs inflammation to repair damage caused by exercise, for example (so you get bigger and stronger!). It helps to fend off viruses, bacteria and harmful invaders. The issue is our modern society's way of life that promotes chronic inflammation that can take its toll over the long term.
Turmeric and Curcumin Product Suggestions:
Can you get enough curcumin just in turmeric? Let's just say; you'll have to be having a lot of turmeric lattes to get enough of the active dose! Curcumin and the curcuminoids exist in turmeric rhizomes at approximately 22-40mg/g. In the turmeric roots, only 1.9mg/g. Turmeric on its own it's not as potent as a pain reliever and anti-inflammatory.
Curcumin is also known to be poorly absorbed, which is why it's important to find reputable suppliers, and ensure that you're taking a high-quality product. Taking it with black pepper / perperine increases the bioavailability, and you'll find some products do combine the two.
To find out more:
*Disclaimer: Always talk to your healthcare professional if you have arthritis symptoms or health concerns before taking on board a new supplement regime. Vitamins and minerals can not replace a balanced and nutritious diet.
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Robert H. Shmerling, M. (2019, November 25). Curcumin for arthritis: Does it really work? Retrieved October 07, 2020, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/curcumin-for-arthritis-does-it-really-work-2019111218290
Sun, J., Chen, F., Braun, C., Zhou, Y., Rittner, H., Tian, Y., . . . Ye, D. (2018, April 17). Role of curcumin in the management of pathological pain. Retrieved October 07, 2020, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0944711318301454
Zhang, Z., Leong, D.J., Xu, L. et al. Curcumin slows osteoarthritis progression and relieves osteoarthritis-associated pain symptoms in a post-traumatic osteoarthritis mouse model. Arthritis Res Ther 18, 128 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13075-016-1025-y