Curcumin for arthritis: Does it actually work?

Curcumin herbal supplements and turmeric powder in bowl

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint illness that’s the most typical kind of arthritis. Normally, it happens amongst folks of superior age. However it could actually start in center age and even sooner, particularly if there’s been an damage to the joint.

Whereas there are remedies out there — train, braces or canes, lack of extra weight, numerous ache relievers and anti inflammatory medicines — these aren’t any cures, and not one of the remedies are predictably efficient. In actual fact, usually they don’t work in any respect, or assist solely somewhat. Injected steroids or artificial lubricants will be tried as nicely. When all else fails, joint substitute surgical procedure will be extremely efficient. In actual fact, about 1,000,000 joint replacements (principally knees and hips) are carried out every year within the US.

So, it’s no shock that folks with osteoarthritis will attempt absolutely anything that appears fairly secure if it’d present reduction. My sufferers usually ask about food plan, together with anti-inflammatory meals, antioxidants, low-gluten diets, and lots of others. There’s little proof that the majority of those dietary approaches work. When there may be proof, it normally demonstrates no constant or clear profit.

That’s why a brand new examine is noteworthy: it means that curcumin, a naturally occurring substance present in a typical spice, may work for osteoarthritis.

A brand new examine of curcumin for osteoarthritis of the knee

Within the examine, researchers enrolled 139 folks with signs of knee osteoarthritis. Their signs had been at the very least reasonably extreme and required remedy with a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). For one month, they got the NSAID diclofenac (50 mg, twice day by day) or curcumin (500 mg, thrice day by day).

Why curcumin? It’s a naturally occurring substance, discovered within the spice turmeric, that has anti-inflammatory results. Its use has been advocated for cardiovascular well being, arthritis, and a bunch of different circumstances. Nonetheless, well-designed research of its well being advantages are restricted.

Right here’s what this examine discovered:

  • Each remedies relieved arthritis signs and helped to an identical diploma: 94% of these taking curcumin and 97% of these taking diclofenac reported at the very least 50% enchancment.
  • Folks reported fewer unwanted side effects with curcumin. For instance, not one of the examine topics taking curcumin wanted remedy for abdomen hassle, however 28% of these taking diclofenac wanted remedy.
  • These taking curcumin misplaced, on common, practically 2% of their physique weight in simply 4 weeks — that’s 3.5 kilos for a 175-pound particular person.

Prepared to start out taking curcumin?

Not so quick. It’s uncommon {that a} single examine can change follow in a single day, and this one isn’t any exception. Numerous components give me pause:

  • The examine was small and solely lasted a month.
  • Solely osteoarthritis of the knee was studied. We must always not assume that different sorts of arthritis or that osteoarthritis of different joints would reply equally.
  • Curcumin was in contrast with just one attainable dosage stage of diclofenac (not the very best advisable dose). As well as, the diclofenac used on this examine was uncoated (although there’s a coated formulation designed to be simpler on the abdomen). The outcomes of this examine might need been completely different if one other NSAID or a special dose or formulation of diclofenac had been in contrast with curcumin.
  • The examine was unblinded — that’s, examine members and researchers knew who was getting curcumin and who was getting the NSAID. This could generally bias the outcomes by altering expectations of unwanted side effects or profit.
  • We don’t know the way nicely curcumin would work, or if it could be secure, for the sorts of folks excluded from this examine. For instance, this examine enrolled adults ages 38 to 65 and excluded these with vital kidney or abdomen illness. For youthful or older folks, these with different medical issues, or these taking a number of drugs, the outcomes might need been completely different.
  • Over-the-counter dietary dietary supplements (“nutriceuticals”) are usually not examined or regulated the way in which pharmaceuticals are. So, info relating to purity, energy, and potential interplay with different drugs or ailments is often restricted for remedies like curcumin. It’s value noting that studies of lead contamination in turmeric have been just lately revealed.
  • Weight reduction as a facet impact of taking curcumin is perhaps an issue for individuals who are already lean.

The underside line

Research of this type are vitally vital in making an attempt to know whether or not dietary modifications will be useful for arthritis. Whereas this new examine offers help for curcumin as a remedy for osteoarthritis of the knee, I’d prefer to see extra and longer-term research in osteoarthritis and different sorts of joint illness, in addition to extra intensive testing of its security, earlier than recommending it to my sufferers.

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