Not only is arthritis physically difficult, it’s also paved with fads of questionable treatments. And the trending treatment option? Turmeric. This herb has been gaining popularity recently, with devotees saying it’s helped them alleviate arthritic pains and inflammation quickly. So how does turmeric for arthritis work? Does it even work? Is it for you? We’ve got everything you need to know right here.
Arthritis is a medical condition that is known to cause swollen and painful joints. It affects everyone irrespective of age– both children and adults. The common symptoms of this condition include:
- Pain and ache in the muscles
- Stiffness in the joints
- Lack of flexibility of the limbs
There are several types of arthritis; the common ones are infectious arthritis, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and gout. Rheumatoid arthritis is caused by an attack of the immune system on the joints. Osteoarthritis is common in people above 50 years old and is usually due to the wasting of the bone cartilage.
Septic or infectious arthritis when there’s an infection in the joints. Children can develop infectious arthritis, but old people are more susceptible it. Gout, on other hand, happens as a result of inflammation in the joint because of uric acid crystals.
Benefits of Turmeric in Managing Arthritis
Turmeric has proven to alleviate symptoms of arthritis such as tenderness, inflammation and pain in joints. In case you didn’t know, turmeric is a rhizome like ginger and is gotten from a plant known as Curcuma longa. This herbs is made up of a bioactive compound named curcumin which largely responsible for most of its medicinal properties.
The following are the benefits of turmeric in treating arthritis:
- Turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory agent
Inflammation of the joints is one of the common symptoms of arthritis. The creating of pro-inflammatory agents is largely due to the wear and tear that occurs in the joints. This is what causes the pain, swelling and lack of flexibility. The inflammation also affects the fluid responsible for lubricating the joint resulting in a medical condition known as synovitis, eventually causing joint stiffness.
Fortunately, turmeric and its active ingredient, curcumin are natural anti-inflammatory agents. Unlike conventional medications like celecoxib, curcumin curbs the action of both pro-inflammatory enzymes- COX and LOX. In fact, curcumin doesn’t result in gastric erosion, which is a primary side effect of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications.
- Turmeric is anti-arthritic
A study evaluating the safety and efficacy of turmeric extract in treating osteoarthritis indicated that the extract on its own or in combination with glucosamine sulphate substantially alleviates pain and also minimized the need to take other commonly prescribed medications.
Curcuminoids are compounds contained in turmeric that have powerful antioxidants. A concentration of these curcuminoids improves the anti-arthritic property of turmeric that helps to reduce joint inflammation.
- It has excellent antioxidant properties
In arthritis, the degradation of joint tissues is caused by oxidative stress or an imbalance between the body’s prooxidant and antioxidant agents. Several studies have found that that supplementation of curcuminoids in the short term can minimize the risk of oxidative stress in osteoarthritis.
- Turmeric protects the bone
The erosion of joint tissue and cartilage is usually as a result of inflammation in arthritis. In osteoarthritis, deterioration of joint tissue is also common. However, curcuminoids helps to slow down the development of osteoarthritis by curbing loss of bone tissue.
- It regulates autoimmune conditions
Some types of arthritis happen as a result of abnormal reactions from the body’s immune system. Sometimes, the immune system fights the body’s tissue as if it were an infective organism. This is what happens in the case of autoimmune illnesses such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
Thankfully, curcumin has the ability to regulate the body’s immune responses.
- It curbs arthritis progression
With rheumatoid arthritis, there are inflammatory conditions that cause some cells begin to grow and fight cell death and thereby contribute to swelling and joint destruction.
Curcumin actually destroy these cells and stop them from producing inflammatory agents.\
- Turmeric alleviates arthritis by interacting with genes
Curcumin is one of the major ingredients contained in turmeric, having both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant characteristics. Curcumin also encourages the gene expression of several molecular targets to help in controlling their activity.
Interestingly, this function is peculiar to curcumin and no regular anti-arthritic medications and NSAIDs recommend for treating arthritis.
- It can fight infection in arthritis
Septic or infectious arthritis can be caused by bacterial infection like superbug MRSA and fungal infections such as Candida and Aspergillus. Additionally, some medication recommended for arthritis treatment can elevate the risk of it getting seriously infected.
Curcumin has anti-microbial properties. This means that it can prevent the growth of bacteria, fungi and viruses. This could be beneficial in alleviating sepsis in arthritis.
- Turmeric’s skin protective activity is beneficial in psoriatic arthritis
Traditionally, turmeric is used in treating various skin issues. In fact, studies have found evidences that curcumin can help in treating various skin conditions.
- It helps in alleviating arthritis complications
Arthritis is characterized by joint erosion, bone loss and inflammation. Sadly, the inflammation can spread to other organs of the body such as lungs, heart, eyes, blood vessels, etc.
Studies have proven that curcumin can protect the heart against cardiovascular diseases. Curcumin also helps in the treatment and minimizing the symptoms of an inflammatory eye disorder known as uveitis.
- Turmeric is better than painkillers and conventional arthritis medications
Curcumin can effectively control inflammation and minimize the movement of immune cells to the arthritis site. In fact, curcumin taken along low doses of the steroid helps in reducing arthritis swelling and pain. One of the added advantages of curcumin is that it is safer for the stomach than ibuprofen.
- It minimizes the side effects of anti-arthritic drugs
Turmeric is effective in preventing complications associated with rheumatoid arthritis. Unlike other arthritis treatments, turmeric has no major side effects associated with liver toxicity.
- It is effective for treating various arthritis-related conditions
Turmeric and even curcumin have several medicinal properties which are beneficial in almost every type of arthritic condition. The most prominent ones are its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Turmeric’s analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties benefit in conditions such as juvenile arthritis, lupus, ankylosing spondylitis, fibromyalgia, bursitis and many others.
The Bottom Line
Turmeric’s antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic properties not only alleviate arthritic pain but attempts prevent it at a genetic and molecular level.
Apparently, with all its benefits, turmeric can be developed into a commercial drug for treating arthritis, particularly as it reduces inflammation and joint pain. Interestingly, too, unlike other prescriptions for arthritis, turmeric does not result in side effects.
What more, turmeric supplements are safe to take along with anti-arthritic drugs. In fact, turmeric works in synergy with some prescription arthritis medications such as diclofenac sodium, indomethacin, phenylbutazone, ibuprofen, methotrexate, prednisone etc.