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Turmeric Extract for Osteoarthritis Pain Relief

3 min read

Osteoarthritis is a condition that causes the joints to become painful and stiff. It is the most common type of arthritis in the UK. The severity of osteoarthritis symptoms can vary greatly from person to person, and between different affected joints.

Symptoms of osteoarthritis can include:

  • pain
  • stiffness
  • a grating or grinding sensation when you move your joint
  • hard or soft swelling
  • not being able to use your joint normally, which can make certain activities difficult (for example climbing stairs).

Natural Relief from Osteoarthritis Pain

Many people with osteoarthritis depend on non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen (Motrin) to manage this pain, but the regular, chronic use of these types of medications is associated with significant, and very serious, side effects, including:

  • Cardiovascular problems - your risk of congestive heart failure increases by 60% if you regularly take NSAIDs
  • Gastrointestinal harm - NSAIDs are a major cause of stomach ulcers
  • Kidney and/or liver damage

Given the risks, having a natural alternative to NSAIDs for pain relief is invaluable, especially for a painful condition like osteoarthritis -- and turmeric is emerging as one of the safest and most effective options out there.

Turmeric for Osteoarthritis Pain Relief

A study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that taking turmeric extract for osteoarthritis pain each day for six weeks was just as effective for pain relief as ibuprofen.

Research into the health benefits of turmeric is also showing it may play a beneficial role in the following ailments and diseases: 

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Crohn's disease
  • Alzheimers
  • Psoriasis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Cataracts
  • Gallstones
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Back pain

Why does turmeric work as a natural anti-inflammatory?

The active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin. This is a pigment that gives turmeric its bright orang colour and is a naturally occurring anti-inflammatory. Curcumin has been shown to influence enzymes that have been implicated in inflammation.

It is believed that curcumin helps block inflammatory pathways, effectively preventing the launch of a protein that triggers swelling and pain.

Curcumin's anti-inflammatory effects may help to reduce irritation to tissues characterized by pain, redness, swelling and heat, which is particularly helpful for osteoarthritis patients.

Why not just buy turmeric powder from the supermarket?

Household turmeric powder which you can buy in the supermarket typically contains 3% or less of curcumin - the all important active ingredient. This means that proportionately you need to consume a lot of turmeric powder in order to get enough curcumin to be beneficial. Curry powder has been been found to contain very little turmeric therefore has even less curcumin content.

Curcumin from turmeric powder is difficult for your body to absorb, you can mix into into coconut oil or other liquids to help its absorption, but as the concentration is 3% or less, it is very difficult (and unpleasant) for your body to absorb it therefore turmeric powder is not a very bioavailable form of curcumin.

Curcumin is a very potent yellow/orange pigment and can permanently discolour surfaces so use it with care in your kitchen and make sure no powder gets onto your clothes, counter tops and other surfaces. 

A turmeric supplement contains concentrated curcumin extract which is the most bioavailable way to consume curcumin. To get the full benefits curcumin has to offer, look for a turmeric extract that contains organic ingredients, with at least 95 percent curcuminoids.

Related Supplements

A healthy balanced diet is the best way to consume all the nutrients we need. Sometimes however this isn't possible and then supplements can help. This article isn't intended to replace medical advice. Please consult your healthcare professional before trying any supplements or herbal medicines.