Turmeric is a spice commonly used in Indian curries, though it has also been used in Asian medicine, for example Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine, for centuries to treat health problems related to inflammation. In recent years, the interest in turmeric as a natural supplement has increased, and using turmeric for arthritis has become a specific area of interest. Several scientific studies have been done to determine if it is beneficial to use turmeric for arthritis relief. The results are not conclusive, but indicate that there are benefits of taking turmeric for arthritis, and that turmeric can be especially effective at preventing the onset of arthritis and reducing joint swelling. One extensive study showed that the best results were achieved when a turmeric extract was taken before the onset of arthritis, or very soon after the onset of the disease.
There are different types of arthritis, but all cause pain and swelling of the joints, joint stiffness, and loss of physical function. The two most common types of arthritis are rheumatoid arthritis, which is caused by inflammation of joint tissue, and osteoarthritis, which is caused by degradation of joint tissue due to various factors such as age, genetics, and injuries. Studies have shown some beneficial effects of turmeric for arthritis for both these types of the disease, but much of the research has focused on turmeric's anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties in general and specifically its effects on rheumatoid arthritis.
Several scientific studies prove that turmeric can prevent the joint inflammation caused by rheumatoid arthritis. Both anecdotal evidence and research also indicate that taking turmeric for arthritis can reduce joint pain and swelling. One scientific study done on the possible benefits of turmeric for arthritis showed that curcumin, a major component of turmeric, prevents the inflammation of the joints caused by rheumatoid arthritis in much the same way as pharmaceutical drugs do. This helps reduce joint swelling, improving movement and reducing pain. Curcumin extracts from turmeric have also been shown to have other benefits, including the prevention of osteoporosis, or bone loss, a condition which can lead to bones fracturing more easily.
One can ingest turmeric in various forms, including as an extract or grounded powder. Research indicates that turmeric extracts rich in curcumin provide the most benefits when taking turmeric for arthritis. High doses of turmeric can cause stomach upsets and blood thinning. One should consult a doctor before taking large doses of turmeric.