Chances are that by now, you know that turmeric is one of the most sought-after superfoods out there. The potent spice is what gives traditional Indian dishes like curries their vibrant flavor and yellow color. However, medicinally, you can also use turmeric for joint pain and inflammation, and even to manage conditions like arthritis.
Turmeric for Joint Pain — How it Works
Turmeric is known as a powerful anti-inflammatory, antioxidant,
anticancer, and neuroprotective, all thanks to its active ingredient — curcumin.
Curcumin is such a strong anti-inflammatory. It’s even been found to match the effectiveness of certain anti-inflammatory drugs — without the harmful side effects. It does so by blocking a molecule called NF-kB, which travels into your cells and turns on genes that trigger inflammation. It’s said that NF-kB plays a role in many chronic diseases including heart disease, Alzheimer’s, metabolic syndrome, and more.
Inflammation is known to be a major factor in diseases like those mentioned above, and it’s also a key player in conditions like arthritis. (Arthritis is a disorder characterized by joint inflammation that can cause pain and discomfort.) Research shows that curcumin may tame inflammation and is therefore helpful in treating the symptoms of arthritis.
More specifically, curcumin has been studied for its effectiveness against rheumatoid arthritis (RA). In someone with rheumatoid arthritis, the body’s immune system attacks itself, namely in the tissues of the joints and, in worse cases, the organs. RA can cause severe inflammation and pain in the joints (mostly in the hands and feet).
Since curcumin works hard to block inflammation, it might not come as a surprise that it’s proven quite effective against RA. In one particular study including 45 people with RA, researchers gave curcumin supplements to one-third of the group. The other two groups took a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) called diclofenac. The last group took a combination of both. According to the results, the group that took only 500 milligrams of curcumin showed the most improvement in RA symptoms including joint pain and inflammation. That’s pretty impressive!
Adding more turmeric to your diet probably won’t hurt your efforts to manage inflammation. A turmeric supplement may be a safe option, since turmeric on its own has a pretty low concentration of curcumin. Most curcumin supplements also contain piperine (sometimes called bioperine) — a compound which makes curcumin 2,000 percent more absorbable by the body.
As always, talk to your doctor before trying any new supplement. For one we like, try the Nature’s Nutrition Turmeric Curcumin Supplement (Buy on Amazon, $12.82).
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