Arthritis is a painful condition involving the inflammation of the joints. If you’ve experienced it, you’ll know how tender and stiff your knees, hands and hips may feel. With around 10 million affected in the UK, effective arthritis treatments must be found.

Severe osteoarthritis (OA) is managed by lifestyle improvements and painkillers. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) treatment involves drugs that slow down its progression and injected biological treatments. 

In recent years, turmeric has grown in popularity as a potential treatment for arthritis. Studies have suggested its active ingredient, curcumin, may have anti-inflammatory and pain relief properties.

Is curcumin anti-inflammatory?

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One 2019 trial studied the effects of turmeric compared to diclofenac: a popular medicine prescribed to reduce swelling in OA and RA patients.

In the study, participants experiencing knee pain were given either a dose of curcumin three times daily or diclofenac pills twice a day. 

Incredibly, the patients who took curcumin experienced virtually the same improvement in knee pain but with a significant reduction in side effects.

Placebo trials

In another 2020 study, OA patients over the age of 40 were given either 1000mg of turmeric or a placebo pill.

Within three months, the trial found that turmeric had a more significant effect on the patients’ knee pain than the placebo.

While more research is required, trials like these suggest that turmeric, and its active ingredient curcumin, may be genuinely effective in alleviating symptoms of osteoarthritis.

Can turmeric help rheumatoid arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis is different from osteoarthritis. While osteoarthritis begins after years of wear and tear, rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition in which your immune system attacks the joint.

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However, the symptoms can be similar: inflammation causes stiffness and joint pain.

One small study showed that curcumin supplements were more effective in reducing tenderness and joint swelling than participants who only took diclofenac or a combination of both.

How to take turmeric

If you’re interested in trying turmeric to alleviate symptoms of arthritis, it is essential to consume it safely and effectively. As curcumin is the active ingredient in turmeric that may be responsible for arthritis relief, you must prioritise curcumin content when including turmeric in your diet.

In your food

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While turmeric makes a colourful addition to curry dishes, sprinkling lots of the spice in your meals is not likely to dramatically relieve arthritis symptoms. Most recipes only require less than a gram of raw turmeric powder, which is unlikely to deliver the quantities of curcumin needed to provide the therapeutic effects studied to be effective. 

As a supplement

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Perhaps the best way to get your turmeric intake is to use a supplement with a high concentration of turmeric (a.k.a turmeric extract). This way, you can ensure you get enough curcumin to reduce inflammation, swelling, and tenderness using a low dosage. 

Consuming in capsule form also helps to avoid tasting the turmeric, a taste which not many people are highly fond of. We recommend our Bone & Joint Health Goals, which contains turmeric extract with 95% curcuminoids in a capsule form

Medical disclaimer

You must not rely on the information on this blog as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or therapist. If you have any specific concerns about your mental or physical health, you should consult your doctor and you should not delay seeking medical advice, or treatment for your mental health, because of the information on this