Turmeric for Joints: Turmeric And Arthritis, Benefits, And Side Effects
Turmeric is a tall plant commonly seen in central America and Asia. It is also called the golden spice and in India, it was termed the Indian saffron. The part of turmeric harvested for consumption and commonly sold is the ground root part, and the spicy golden yellow color procreates the fantastic color of curry powder. Safe to say curry gives turmeric vibes!
Curcumin is the yellow chemical and the principal curcuminoid of turmeric. Therefore, turmeric is also referred to as curcumin. Turmeric extract or curcumin extract has been investigated in various scientific studies for its anti-inflammatory properties to reduce arthritis pain and knee osteoarthritis. Therefore, it is safe to say that turmeric and osteoarthritis currently carry a deep interest by the scientific community to reduce pain and inflammation related to arthritis symptoms.
Aside it has been introduced as a major ingredient in curry powder, turmeric has also been sold commercially because of its health benefits. The turmeric benefits have necessitated it being processed into capsules, tea, and extract for convenient consumption.
Ever wondered about the powerful ingredient in turmeric that gives it away for its countless health benefits? Its curcumin. Turmeric benefits such as the turmeric for joint pains, turmeric for osteoarthritis, and even the turmeric with milk benefits are all made possible because of curcumin.
Turmeric and curcumin are not the same words and should not be used interchangeably. Turmeric is a root plant with plenty of components and benefits while curcumin is an active ingredient seen in turmeric.
Recently, orthodox medicine started investigations to analyze the usefulness of turmeric as an analgesic for pain relief and as a healing agent. This article will explore the health benefits of turmeric, the importance of turmeric for joint diseases such as arthritis, and other benefits turmeric is good for (1).
What Is Turmeric
Turmeric is a golden yellow/orange root plant commonly used as a spice because of its benefits of adding flavor, and color and its nutritional benefits in foods. Turmeric is often mistaken for ginger but turmeric is different from ginger, just only belongs to the same root plant as ginger.
Years ago, turmeric was discovered in the root of an Asian plant and was first used as a spice by Asians. In China and India, turmeric benefits were further inculcated into their traditional remedy agents after their impact has been seen by the ancient doctors (2).
Curcuminoids Compounds In Turmeric
Years ago, scientists went on to research the medical agent present in this plant root responsible for the turmeric benefits. The medicinal compounds present in turmeric are called curcuminoids and the most active one in turmeric is curcumin. Curcumin is the highlight of turmeric ingredients and has been responsible for its popular anti-inflammatory as well as antioxidant properties.
Nutritional Contents Of Turmeric
The United states department of agriculture otherwise called USDA studied the nutritional content present in one tablespoon of a turmeric powder, and this investigation revealed that a tablespoon of turmeric powder contains the following:
- – A total of 29 calories
- – Carbohydrate…..6.31 grams
- – Fiber….2.1 grams
- – Protein…..0.91 grams
- – Fat…0.31 grams
- – Sugar…0.3 grams.
A tablespoon of turmeric powder also contains the following vitamins and minerals per daily needs:
- – Vitamin c…3%
- .- 5%
- – Iron…………..16%
- – .26% (1).
The Relationship Between Turmeric And Arthritis
In the united states, arthritis is the commonest disease of the joint, and over the years, physicians have realized that medications alone do not solve the problem of arthritis. It involves the use of medicine, lifestyle modifications, and supplements, and in severe cases, surgical intervention is needed.
A study revealed that for adults above 60 years in the united states, an average of 10% of men will present with symptoms of arthritis, while in women there is an increase of 13% presenting to the clinics with symptoms suggestive of arthritis.
Another work published in 2006 by the center for disease control, CDC, revealed that about 20% of American citizens in the united states complain of knee pain and this sometimes ranges from mild pain to complicated knee pain accompanied by loss of function.
Studies carried out in India have furthermore supported the claim that there are health benefits of turmeric for joint diseases after the research revealed that turmeric use helps to relieve joint pain and that benefits of turmeric for osteoarthritis are also present. The spice is commonly used in ayurvedic medicine because of the turmeric benefits for health made possible by its active ingredient curcumin.
Turmeric is good for osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and joint pain because of the following properties:
– Anti-inflammatory effects
A study was carried out where the effects of turmeric-curcumin were compared to a popular non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, diclofenac. This study which was randomized used 139 individuals as a sample.
This group of people is patients with knee pain. Half of them were given 50mg of diclofenac morning and night while the other half was given curcumin from turmeric three times daily. After a few days, the study revealed that both groups experienced significant relief in their knee pain.
Another advantage of curcumin in these patients is that curcumin is well tolerated due to its natural source compared to diclofenac. Hence, patients who took curcumin had little or no side effects when compared to those given diclofenac tablets, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug.
Studies have been done and are still ongoing to evaluate the health benefit of turmeric and curcumin in the health management of osteoarthritis. In these studies, many of them were compared to the effect of a placebo in patients with osteoarthritis. Most of the patients given curcumin experienced a drastic reduction in their symptoms and some of them also experienced relief in their functions because they were able to go back to their daily activities.
However, the right dosage to be taken in the use of turmeric for osteoarthritis has not been ascertained, and it is advisable to use it with caution to avoid potential side effects (3).
– Joint pain relief
Turmeric has been used on several occasions as a potent pain reliever and hence has been used in several cases of joint pain to relieve the pain and discomfort associated with joint diseases.
Studies have revealed that the pain-relieving effects of curcumin have been compared to ibuprofen in relieving pain in patients with joint diseases and arthritis. Although it is difficult to ascertain the dose of turmeric that will help in the management of pain, however, 800mg of turmeric has been used and seems to work fine in people (1).
– Antibacterial effects
Turmeric is good for the treatment of bacterial infections of joints and skin. Turmeric is active against staphylococcus infections and acne problems. Although, turmeric supplements should not stop a patient from consulting a doctor for medical treatment as well.
Other Health Benefits Of Turmeric for Joints
A. Treatment of high blood pressure
Elevated blood pressure is one of the leading chronic diseases in India and the world at large. Hypertension is a risk factor for major cardiovascular diseases like stroke, heart failure, myocardial infarction, and even chronic kidney diseases. Hence, it is important to keep a check on blood pressure to prevent its complications which can lead to death as well.
There are medications, and antihypertensive agents available for the treatment of hypertension, however, in the management of hypertension, lifestyle modification is also very important such as exercises, diets, and the use of supplements. Curcumin, the active ingredient of turmeric has been beneficial in the treatment of high blood pressure. Hence, this explains the reason why turmeric spice is included in almost all Indian dishes.
The following are the health benefit of turmeric to lower blood pressure:
- – Curcumin lowers blood pressure
Curcumin is an antioxidant agent present in turmeric and studies have revealed that curcumin helps to lower elevated blood pressure. The antioxidant property it possesses helps it in performing the task of reducing high blood pressure. Curcumin also helps to protect the body against vascular disorders.
- – Prevention of arterial damage
The use of turmeric to lower blood pressure is beyond just reducing high blood pressure, it has also been found to help prevent and treat arterial complications from hypertension.
In high blood pressure, plaques can be formed in the wall of the arteries leading to arteriosclerosis which will cause blood flow to different parts of the body like the brain and the heart to be reduced. The curcumin present in turmeric, when eaten will also help to prevent and to some extent reverse some effects of these complications.
- – Regulation of cholesterol and blood glucose level
Aside from its use in hypertension, turmeric benefits are also seen in the regulation of high blood glucose levels and cholesterol levels. Hypercholesterolaemia and diabetes mellitus are chronic systemic diseases that can affect the heart and the brain and if not well managed, can also lead to death. However, turmeric has helped mitigate the effects of this disease condition (4).
B. Improves the health of the liver
Turmeric is an excellent spice that helps to protect the liver from diseases. Turmeric with milk benefits the liver in quite several ways and hence, it has been referred to as the liver tonic! It performs detoxification and purification functions by protecting the liver from all sorts of toxins.
C. Prevention of cancer
Turmeric milk has anticarcinogenic properties that help to prevent the occurrence of cancer in the body by inhibiting cell proliferation. Turmeric with milk benefits also cancer patients by slowing down ongoing cell proliferation and preventing new cancers as well.
It has also been active in the prevention of prostate cancer, common cancer seen in men of middle age. Also when used alongside medical treatment in cancer patients, it helps to slow down and lower the side effects of chemotherapy.
D. Turmeric for joints and bone health
Benefits of turmeric for joints and bone health have been widely studied. Turmeric with milk also helps in keeping the bone strong and healthy. In younger ones and fracture it helps to enhance bone development and the formation of bone cells. Turmeric is rich in vitamin D and calcium, and these are essential substances required to keep the bone healthy and reduce the risk of osteoporosis. It also helps to prevent stiffness of joints in patients with arthritis while also reducing joint pain (5).
Introducing Turmeric In Diets
In places like India, there are turmeric restaurants where turmeric is being used in dishes and cuisines. Turmeric is a versatile spice with good flavor and enticing color that makes it palatable in foods.
Turmeric can be added to various meals in different ways. Some of them are:
- – Turmeric with other spices such as curry and syrups
- – Turmeric is an ingredient in homemade dressing using oil, vinegar, and seasoning.
- – Marinades with turmeric
Turmeric has also been included in some recipes, examples are:
- – Turmeric milk
- – Gold rush soup
- – Manson jar lentil salad
- – Others are the mango plus turmeric smoothie, and cumin-lime with turmeric vinaigrette (1).
Turmeric Supplements or Curcumin Supplements
There have been several questions in the clinic about if one should take turmeric supplements or curcumin supplements. But the original question should be “are turmeric supplements safe?”
Despite the limitless health benefits associated with the use of turmeric, studies, however, are still ongoing to ascertain if it is safe to use turmeric as supplements or if it is safe to take turmeric supplements.
Responses gotten from physicians suggest that turmeric supplements might not be an entirely good idea as too much curcumin can be harmful. In the presence of a family history of kidney stones, the use of turmeric supplements has been known to increase the risk of kidney stones in such individuals. This is because the supplements usually contain a very high concentration than may be necessary.
One fact to note about turmeric is that it has a low bioavailability, hence when taken, only a few percentages of it get absorbed in the body, and the rate of excretion by the body seems to be high.
Combining turmeric with other similar spices well absorbed by the body such as black pepper will help to increase its absorption rate in the body because black pepper contains piperine which has a higher bioavailability.
Therefore, it is a better option to enjoy turmeric benefits by mixing it with other available spices directly rather than consuming it in form of capsules or pills (2).
Side Effects Of Turmeric Extract
While turmeric has important health benefits, it should however be taken with caution and in moderate quantity to avoid some of the potential adverse effects.
Some of the recorded side effects of turmeric are:
- – Abdominal discomfort
One of the benefits of turmeric is that it helps to aid digestion. However, when turmeric is consumed in very large quantities, it causes bowel irritation. Too much turmeric in the body leads to excessive production and secretion of gastric acid in the stomach which has negative side effects such as peptic ulcer disease, gastroesophageal reflux disease, GERD.
- – Stimulates contraction
Excessive consumption of turmeric can stimulate preterm contraction in pregnant women or cause false labor. This is not limited to just turmeric, it has also been seen in other kinds of spices. However, studies are currently ongoing trying to debunk such a myth, but it is advisable to eat spices with caution during pregnancy.
In premenopausal symptoms, turmeric can also help to reduce the projected symptoms because of its direct effects on the uterus. Also, women trying to conceive and pregnant women should boycott turmeric containing spices, except taken with caution, because it causes thinning of the blood.
- – Nausea and vomiting
Excessive intake of curcumin has reportedly caused nausea and vomiting in people, and at times there is associated headache (1).
One should be taken when feeding on turmeric especially using it to achieve a health goal. Too much turmeric in the body will cause it to interact poorly with certain medicines when taken together or simultaneously.
Examples of such drugs are:
- Chemotherapy agents
- Others are antihypertensives and anticoagulants.
It is better to reach out to a physician or a pharmacist if on other medications, before starting on turmeric supplements to avoid drug-drug interactions and other avoidable reactions (6).