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Turmeric - a cure for back pain?

Apr 1, 2014 | 3 min read
Turmeric - a cure for back pain?

Most of us are familiar with Turmeric as the spice that lends a distinctive deep yellow colour to Indian dishes. A lesser known use for Turmeric is as an excellent natural alternative medicine for the treatment of back pain and inflammation. 

Turmeric is a member of the ginger family which has been used for centuries for its medicinal properties. Modern day researchers are also excited about the spice’s ability to heal.

Here we examine the research into this ancient root and look at why it may be particularly useful in treating back pain, a condition which is thought to silently plague 80% of people at some point in their lives.

Back pain - a physiological epidemic

Few people escape back pain: during any one year up to half the UK population is affected. Many sufferers struggle to sleep well and this can have knock-on effects on energy and concentration levels. Little wonder, then, that back pain is one of the leading causes of sick leave.

A great deal of the pain associated with back problems is due to inflammation, the body’s natural response to harmful stimuli, such as pathogens, damaged cells, or irritants. The classical signs of acute inflammation are pain, heat, redness, swelling, and loss of function.

Traditionally prescribed drugs can have serious side effects 

For most sufferers the first step is to turn to non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or diclofenac, and analgesics such as paracetamol.  These are widely accepted drugs for managing pain relief however regular use of these types of medication is associated with significant, and very serious, side effects. This includes cardiovascular problems, gastrointestinal harm e.g. stomach ulcers and kidney and/or liver damage. For these reasons many people are now turning to alternative treatments for help.

Turmeric (Curcuma longa) - a natural alternative

Turmeric is a spice which is believed to have been used medicinally for thousands of years. In 1280AD Marco Polo noted the use of turmeric in his diary while in China. The ancient Polynesians of Oceania took turmeric with them on their voyage across the Pacific to Hawaii where it is still widely used.

A number of studies have found that turmeric appears to have a powerful ability to reduce inflammation in the body. This anti-inflammatory action is thought to be due to an active ingredient in the spice called curcumin which blocks inflammatory pathways which trigger swelling and pain. This compound is thought to work by inhibiting a number of different molecules that play a role in inflammation in the body. 

Turmeric is also a powerful antioxidant so helps protects the body’s cells against damage from harmful free radicals.

You can use Turmeric as a spice in your cooking however the all important curcumin content in the powder is normally considerably less than that of Turmeric in supplement form. If you choose to take Turmeric in supplement form i.e. turmeric tablets, you should look for one which guarantees a curcumin content as this is the important active ingredient. Look for a level of 450mg or above per capsule/tablet as a good reference guide.

Whilst not a cure for back pain, extensive research and evidence suggests that it is highly beneficial for helping to aid in peoples suffering.

To date no toxic side effects have been associated with this supplement.

Top tip

Turmeric is often taken alongside bromelain which is a digestive enzyme believed to enhance the anti-inflammatory effects of turmeric and improve its absorption by the body.

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Jun 8, 2014
From an American friend I also learned that Turmeric helps against Alzheimers. And in the pharmacy I learned it mainly helps the liver.
Replied to on: Jun 9, 2014
Thanks very much for the additional information and for taking the time to post a message.
Jun 24, 2015
I've been using turmeric for about 4-5 months I had a dramatic result I know we are not all the same but I'd got lumps like growths on a couple of fingers and within I'd say days they had dispersed so they are not there to get inflamed and painful, if you can afford to take two aday i say give it a go
Replied to on: Jun 24, 2015
That's great to hear. Thank you very much for taking the time to write about your experience using Turmeric supplements.
Aug 13, 2017
the best thing i ever did was to start taking turmeric'no more pain killers'for joint pain the best herb ever
Jan 27, 2018
My partner has been taking tumeric capsules for two weeks at one a day but no results now I have told her to take two a day when will she start to feel the effects
Replied to on: Feb 1, 2018
Hi Sharon

We would advise as you have to take two a day to begin with. It varies from person to person but it can take up to 4 weeks to feel the effects. We always recommend you take Turmeric with Bioperine which enhances it's absorption and to take the tablets after a meal, with plenty of water.

Just Vitamins
Mar 4, 2018
Hi I've found this article interesting as I'm suffering with back problems. I've been told by my back specialist that I have chronic non specific mechanical lower back pain, so basically wear and tear on my back. I'm currently on 2 lots of pain killers. Would I have to stop taking these as soon as I started to take the turmeric tablets?
Replied to on: Mar 6, 2018
Hi Lesley

There is no specific reason that we are aware of why you should have to stop taking your pain killers, Turmeric has no known adverse interactions with any medication.

Many people report that they can cut down their dosage of pain killers when taking Turmeric tablets, however this varies depending on the person and specific condition so may not necessarily apply for you. For medical advice we always advise that you contact your doctor who is qualified to answer you.

Just Vitamins
Apr 30, 2019
I have been taking Turmeric for lower back pain for about 2 months and have seen a dramatic improvement in my pain. I have a synovial cyst, degeneration and arthritis in my back . My doctor recommended fusion surgery which I was not wanting to do. Since taking the turmeric, I’ve been almost completely pain free!! So glad I gave it a try before going under the knife.
Oct 14, 2019
Turmeric has changed my life in the past few weeks. I was unable to sit without pain but turmeric reduced inflammation in my back so much that I’m now able to sit much longer without pain. I take 3 500 mg capsules a day. I space them apart throughout the day. I also take CBD as well.
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