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Is Turmeric helpful?

Thanks to Karen for asking this question when she was in for her last treatment. I said that I would find out more and get back to her. So here it is…..

What is Turmeric? It is produced from the rhizomes of Curcuma longa, a plant of the ginger family, that grows in Asia It is an orange powder. There have been occasional reports of adulteration of turmeric with lead oxide and lead chromate powders and with metanil, an illegal yellow dye. Manufacturers of turmeric supplements have to look out for contaminants of their supplies.

It is the Curcumin in Turmeric that reputedly has an antioxidant effect, making one think about using it to treat the pain of arthritis. It is in the treatment of knee osteoarthritis that I have seen most of the research about turmeric. 

I have used a metaanalysis, a research of research, published by Kristopher Paultre and colleagues in Miami, in 2021, in the BMJ as the basis of this article [1], so thanks to them!

There are over five thousand research reports about the effect of turmeric! Paultre and colleagues ignored the studies that were of poor quality, or didn’t meet their criteria. They were left with just ten studies [2-10] to use for their research.

They wanted to see how well Turmeric compared with NSAIDs, like ibuprofen, in the treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee. They had data spanning 1287 patients

What did they find? That turmeric has a similar effect on knee pain to NSAIDs, but with fewer side effects. So, turmeric can be used, either on its own, or in addition to NSAIDs to reduce knee pain and increase knee function

What is the best dose? This is still not known, and Paultre and his colleagues felt that this needed more research. Holland and Barretts products contain anything from 500mg to 3000mg, Boots the Chemists supplements range from 500mg to 4000mg. No one knows the optimum dose, so if it were me, I would start with 500mg and see how that goes.

I love using turmeric when I cook rice – turns it a lovely yellow colour – but unfortunately cooking does reduce the antioxidant effect of turmeric, so it’s more effective taken uncooked [11], which is what is in turmeric capsules.

Would I take it? After reading these research papers, yes I would!

1.         Paultre, K., et al., Therapeutic effects of turmeric or curcumin extract on pain and function for individuals with knee osteoarthritis: a systematic review. BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine, 2021. 7(1): p. e000935.

2.         Panda, S.K., et al., A Randomized, Double Blind, Placebo Controlled, Parallel-Group Study to Evaluate the Safety and Efficacy of Curene® versus Placebo in Reducing Symptoms of Knee OA. Biomed Res Int, 2018. 2018: p. 5291945.

3.         Nakagawa, Y., et al., Short-term effects of highly-bioavailable curcumin for treating knee osteoarthritis: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled prospective study. J Orthop Sci, 2014. 19(6): p. 933-9.

4.         Madhu, K., K. Chanda, and M.J. Saji, Safety and efficacy of Curcuma longa extract in the treatment of painful knee osteoarthritis: a randomized placebo-controlled trial. Inflammopharmacology, 2013. 21(2): p. 129-36.

5.         Belcaro, G., et al., Efficacy and safety of Meriva®, a curcumin-phosphatidylcholine complex, during extended administration in osteoarthritis patients. Altern Med Rev, 2010. 15(4): p. 337-44.

6.         Shep, D., et al., Safety and efficacy of curcumin versus diclofenac in knee osteoarthritis: a randomized open-label parallel-arm study. Trials, 2019. 20(1): p. 214.

7.         Panahi, Y., et al., Curcuminoid treatment for knee osteoarthritis: a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial. Phytother Res, 2014. 28(11): p. 1625-31.

8.         Kuptniratsaikul, V., et al., Efficacy and safety of Curcuma domestica extracts in patients with knee osteoarthritis. J Altern Complement Med, 2009. 15(8): p. 891-7.

9.         Kuptniratsaikul, V., et al., Efficacy and safety of Curcuma domestica extracts compared with ibuprofen in patients with knee osteoarthritis: a multicenter study. Clin Interv Aging, 2014. 9: p. 451-8.

10.       Srivastava, S., et al., Curcuma longa extract reduces inflammatory and oxidative stress biomarkers in osteoarthritis of knee: a four-month, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Inflammopharmacology, 2016. 24(6): p. 377-388.

11.       Sun, J.L., H.F. Ji, and L. Shen, Impact of cooking on the antioxidant activity of spice turmeric. Food Nutr Res, 2019. 63.

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