Indian spice herb turmeric may help with arthritis.
Turmeric is a plant with a plethora of proposed health benefits, including such potential uses in joint health as:
- Reducing inflammation. Turmeric may improve pain and other symptoms of joint conditions through reducing inflammation.
Long cherished in traditional Indian medicine for its wide-ranging health benefits, turmeric is a plant of the ginger family that is best known for the distinctive bitter flavor and yellow hue it gives to curry and mustard.
Culinary and textile uses aside, turmeric has been used as a herbal remedy for all sorts of ailments, especially indigestion, cold infections, and sores, for thousands of years. In the early 1970’s researchers discovered that turmeric carries a bountiful supply of curcuminoids (notably curcumin), which have demonstrated anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
How Turmeric Might Help With Joint Health
Turmeric seems to aid the joints primarily through the action of curcumin, its main bio-active ingredient.
Curcumin appears to inhibit inflammatory molecules such as phospholipase, lipooxygenase, cyclooxygenase 2, leukotrienes, prostaglandins, and nitric oxide, resulting in reduction of the inflammation that characterizes many joint conditions.1
Turmeric Benefits & Uses for Joint Health
There are over 5600 studies examining the health-promoting effects of curcumin alone, including such joint-related benefits as anti-oxidative, anti-inflammatory, anti-arthritic, and anti-aging effects.3
For joint health specifically, a multitude of studies have demonstrated turmeric’s potential for improving joint conditions such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, particularly in terms of pain, swelling, tenderness, and joint mobility.
Animal studies indicate that turmeric may benefit the joints by:
- Improving arthritis. Turmeric was found to dramatically reduced joint swelling and inflammation in female rats with arthritis.5 6
Numerous clinical studies have demonstrated the joint benefits of turmeric, some of the primary ones including reduced joint pain, tenderness, and swelling, improved joint function, and effective management of joint condition, especially osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
In this randomized trial, 107 patients with knee osteoarthritis (OA) were given either 800 mg of ibuprofen or 2 grams of turmeric, C. domestica, every day for 6 weeks. Compared to ibuprofen, the turmeric group had less knee pain and improved knee function when walking and climbing stairs.
- The study concluded that “C. domestica extracts seem to be similarly efficacious and safe as ibuprofen for the treatment of knee OA.”7
In this double-blind investigation, 100 patients with osteoarthritis were given 2 doses of 500 mg of curcumin bound to phosphatidylcholine every day for 8 months. Supplementation resulted in reduced pain and improved function and treadmill walking performance. In addition, the presence of inflammatory markers interleukin-1β (IL-1β) and IL-6 was notably decreased.
- The study concluded that “Meriva is worth considering for the long-term complementary management of osteoarthritis.”8
In this study 200 mg of Meriva® was given to 50 osteoarthritis patients every day for 3 months. The treatment resulted in a 58% improvement of the WOMAC index (a measure of arthritis severity), improved walking distance from 76 m to 332 m, and reduced the need for anti-inflammatory drugs.
- The study concluded that “Meriva® is clinically effective in the management and treatment of osteoarthritis and suggest that the increased stability and better absorption of curcumin induced by complexation with phospholipids have clinical relevance.”9
In this randomized pilot study, 45 patients with rheumatoid arthritis were given curcumin at 500 mg, diclofenac sodium at 50 mg, or both daily. Patients in all 3 groups demonstrated significant changes, but with the highest overall improvement of arthritis in the curcumin group.
- The study concluded that “curcumin treatment was found to be safe and did not relate with any adverse events. Our study provides the first evidence for the safety and superiority of curcumin treatment in patients with active RA.”10
This review examined the results of all randomized controlled trials that studied the the efficacy of turmeric in alleviating the symptoms of arthritis. The authors found that there was a significant trend among the studies for reduction of arthritic pain and overall improvement of the condition.
- The reviewers concluded that “these RCTs provide scientific evidence that supports the efficacy of turmeric extract (about 1000 mg/day of curcumin) in the treatment of arthritis.”11
Dosage for Joint Health
- Research studies have used 200 – 2000 mg of turmeric extract
- Turmeric supplements usually come in capsules of 250 – 500 mg standardized to 95% curcumin
Supplements in Review Says
- Turmeric extract 500 – 1000 mg, standardized to 95% curcuminoids, for joint health.
Turmeric appears to be an effective supplement for arthritis. We recommend turmeric supplementation in the care and management of arthritis. It has shown to be capable of reducing joint pain, tenderness, and swelling by blocking inflammation, as well as moderately improving joint function.
Take turmeric supplements standardized to 95% curcuminoids. Since curcumin seems to be the chief bio-active ingredient of turmeric, we recommend taking standardized turmeric supplements at doses of 500 – 1000 mg.
- Chainani-Wu N. Safety and anti-inflammatory activity of curcumin: a component of tumeric (Curcuma longa). J Altern Complement Med. 2003 Feb;9(1):161-8. ↩
- Funk JL, Frye JB, et al. Efficacy and mechanism of action of turmeric supplements in the treatment of experimental arthritis. Arthritis Rheum. 2006 Nov;54(11):3452-64. ↩
- Aggarwal BB, Yuan W, et al. Curcumin-free turmeric exhibits anti-inflammatory and anticancer activities: Identification of novel components of turmeric. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2013 Sep;57(9):1529-42. ↩
- Madhu K, Chanda K, et al. Safety and efficacy of Curcuma longa extract in the treatment of painful knee osteoarthritis: a randomized placebo-controlled trial. Inflammopharmacology. 2013 Apr;21(2):129-36. ↩
- Funk JL, Frye JB, et al. Anti-arthritic effects and toxicity of the essential oils of turmeric (Curcuma longa L.). J Agric Food Chem. 2010 Jan 27;58(2):842-9. ↩
- Kamrudin TA, Othman F, et al. Protective effect of curcumin on experimentally induced arthritic rats: detailed histopathological study of the joints and white blood cell count. EXCLI J. 2012; 11: 226-36. ↩
- Kuptniratsaikul V, Thanakhumtorn S, et al. Efficacy and safety of Curcuma domestica extracts in patients with knee osteoarthritis. J Altern Complement Med. 2009 Aug;15(8):891-7. ↩
- Belcaro G, Cesarone MR, et al. Efficacy and safety of Meriva®, a curcumin-phosphatidylcholine complex, during extended administration in osteoarthritis patients. Altern Med Rev. 2010 Dec;15(4):337-44. ↩
- Belcaro G, Cesarone MR, et al. Product-evaluation registry of Meriva®, a curcumin-phosphatidylcholine complex, for the complementary management of osteoarthritis. Panminerva Med. 2010 Jun;52(2 Suppl 1):55-62. ↩
- Chandran B, Goel A. A randomized, pilot study to assess the efficacy and safety of curcumin in patients with active rheumatoid arthritis. Phytother Res. 2012 Nov;26(11):1719-25. ↩
- Daily JW, Yang M, et al. Efficacy of Turmeric Extracts and Curcumin for Alleviating the Symptoms of Joint Arthritis: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Clinical Trials. J Med Food. 2016 Aug;19(8):717-29. ↩