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Tackling Inflammation with Turmeric

Tackling Inflammation with Turmeric

With all the side effects and financial costs of common medical treatments for rheumatoid arthritis, many people search for homeopathic options. One supplement that has been used to treat arthritis for thousands of years is turmeric.1 This is a golden-colored spice that is commonly used in preparing curries and mustards. Turmeric contains a chemical called curcumin, and it is this chemical that may have anti-inflammatory properties.2

Although people have been using turmeric to treat inflammatory conditions for thousands of years, there is a lack of research studies on curcumin. A study performed in 2012 on 45 people with active rheumatoid arthritis revealed that the individuals who were given curcumin saw decreased Disease Activity Scores as well as a decrease in the number of tender and/or swollen joints over the group not given curcumin.3 In addition, no adverse effects were seen in the individuals taking curcumin. The researchers who conducted this study stated the need for further research on a larger scale, but were encouraged by their findings.


Before experimenting with taking turmeric for its anti-inflammatory properties, it is recommended that you discuss this with your rheumatologist and any other health professionals you see regularly. While turmeric is a natural supplement derived from a shrub, it can still have some side effects. One of the most common symptoms of taking turmeric in high doses or for long periods of time is digestive issues such as diarrhea, indigestion or nausea and, in extreme cases, ulcers. In addition, people with gallbladder disease should avoid turmeric, as it can exacerbate the condition. Also, turmeric may lower blood sugars. Therefore, if you have diabetes it is important to discuss taking turmeric with the endocrinologist or doctor who treats your diabetes before adding it to your diet. Lastly, while it is safe to eat foods containing turmeric while pregnant or breastfeeding, it is not recommended to take turmeric in high doses or in supplement form.

Once you and your doctor(s) have determined it is safe for you to try turmeric, there are many ways of ingesting the spice to choose from. If you want to add it to foods you eat, there are many recipes available on the internet that feature turmeric, including rice dishes, vegetables, salad dressings, soups, and Indian cuisine. You can also sprinkle it on top of egg dishes or add it to smoothies. It is also possible to make tea by boiling water and adding fresh turmeric root or dried turmeric powder. Lastly, there are supplements available that come in capsule form. Some of these contain higher concentrations of curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, than the powdered spice form. The University of Maryland Medical Center recommends the following dosing guidelines for adults taking turmeric for its health benefits: 1.5 to 3 grams per day of cut root; 1 to 3 grams per day of dried, powdered turmeric root (spice); 400-600 mg three times per day of curcumin powder.4

I experimented with taking a curcumin supplement but found that it exacerbated the hypoglycemia (low blood sugars) I have in addition to RA. Unfortunately, my blood sugars were falling too frequently for me to take the supplement long enough to see if it had benefits on my rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.

Have you tried turmeric to treat your RA symptoms? If so, we’d love to hear whether or not it worked for you.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The RheumatoidArthritis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

  1. http://www.naturalarthritistreatments.net/gout/turmeric-for-gout
  2. https://nccih.nih.gov/health/turmeric/ataglance.htm
  3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22407780
  4. http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/turmeric

Comments

  • MayteR
    12 months ago

    Thank you all for the valuable information. I heard the same thing and have been taking Tumeric pills along with MSM pills everyday. I think it’s too soon to tell, but at least I have no side effects so will continue to take it while I wait for my Enbril to be approved by my Insurance Co.

  • Tamara Haag moderator author
    12 months ago

    Hi MayteR, Thank you for sharing! We welcome you to keep us updated about the impact your supplements have on your disease activity. I wish you all the best in the process of trying to get approval on Enbrel. Insurance can be such a headache, and it can literally be a pain when treatment has to be delayed while waiting for it. Wishing you all the best, Tamara

  • DanTen
    1 year ago

    I am taking Curcumin for ~2 months (turmeric powder). Can’t observe any results. Though I’ve just read that it is desirable to take it with black pepper. This improves absorption in the stomach for better digestibility. Will see…

  • Tamara Haag moderator author
    1 year ago

    Hi DanTen,

    Thanks so much for sharing! I hadn’t heard about the mix with black pepper. Kudos to you for searching for what works for you (which can be a daunting process, as I have yet to hear of anything that works for every person with RA/RD who tries it). We welcome you to keep us updated on what works, or doesn’t work, for you, as this can be helpful for all of us in our search for relief.

    Wishing you the best,
    Tamara

  • Tamara Haag moderator author
    12 months ago

    Hi Annlogan, Thanks so much for sharing! That is so exciting that you’ve found something that works well for you and that there will be another option coming out at some point. I appreciate your willingness to be involved in a clinical trial, as that is helping out others who may benefit from the pill in the future. I’m so glad that it benefitted you as well! Wishing you all the best, Tamara

  • annlogan
    12 months ago

    Hi Tamara, I was actually on a clinical trial for a turmeric boswelea supplement which is supposed to have greater absorption. It worked really well for me. Its called circuma boswelen and Ive been continuing to stay on it post the trial. Now I only take that and my Humira and my flares have gone down a lot. Unfortunately, I think its still in trials and not commercially available yet. 🙁

  • ThomasB
    3 years ago

    I was first diagnosed with RA 18 years ago and have tried many different medications and homeopathic remedies during that time. I currently take Methotrexate, Arava, Xeljanz and Celebrex and CRP and ESR are still not well managed. I tried high potency Curcumin over a number of months and experienced absolutely no benefit from it. Another wasted experiment! Responses are so individual and I often wonder about the severity of the disease activity in many of those candidates included in studies of these remedies.

  • Tamara Haag moderator author
    3 years ago

    Thanks so much for sharing your experiences! I agree that it is baffling how very different people’s responses to the same drug/therapy/diet/supplement can be. My sister also has RA, and I’ve been particularly surprised at how differently we have responded to certain medications. We have the same disease and the same genes, and yet something that works great for her didn’t work at all for me, and vice versa. The trial and error that this necessitates makes it all the harder to get excited about new experiments, as you say. It’s hard to feel like the perpetual guinea pig, especially when so many things don’t work! Wishing you all the best, Tamara (Site Moderator)

  • LifenowwithRD
    3 years ago

    I’ve been taking tumeric since before being diagnosed. I’m not sure of how much it helps the RA inflammation because I was hurting long before the diagnosis. I was also on Prednisone after the diagnosis and have been on/off it now for almost 4 months while waiting for the Plaquenil to kick in. So for me it’s been hard to figure out how much it helps. I tolerate it well though, so I will continue to take it just in case it is helping. My acupuncturist has also recommended celery seed. So I’ve just been adding that in with sautéed veggies that I usually make daily.

  • Richard Faust moderator
    3 years ago

    LifenowwithRD, thanks for contributing your experience with trying alternative treatments. Here are a couple of articles from the editorial staff looking at alternative treatments and homeopathy: https://rheumatoidarthritis.net/alternatives-therapies/ and https://rheumatoidarthritis.net/alternatives-therapies/acupuncture-and-homeopathy/. Please remember to consult your doctor before adding any treatments.

    Best,

    Richard (RheumatoidArthritis.net Team)

  • Tamara Haag moderator author
    3 years ago

    Thanks for sharing your experience! It’s always tricky to know what role each element plays in this crazy RA puzzle, isn’t it? Thanks for being in our community!

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