Curcumin is a polyphenol compound found in turmeric. Tumeric is used in Indian cooking and is part of the ginger family. It is the spice that gives curry its yellow color and distinctive flavor.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) remain the cornerstone of treatment, but are associated with many side effects some of which are life-threatening (gastrointestinal bleeding). Over 20,000 people die each year from gastrointestinal bleeding as the result of NSAIDs.
Over the years newer and newer NSAIDs have been approved by the FDA promising to be more effective and safer, and without fail those NSAIDs have fallen short of expectations. Many NSAIDs have been associated with a higher risk of heart attacks as well. So it certainly makes sense to explore alternative treatments to help the 27 million Americans who suffer from osteoarthritis and the 2 plus million who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis.
What Curcumin Can Do For Arthritis Suffers
Curcumin is garnering more and more attention for its anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects. See “Combat Cancer with Curcumin”. Again curcumin comes from the Indian spice tumeric. One recurring problem with prescription drugs is they usually address a problem through one or two pathways, but curcumin attacks inflammation from several different angles as is suppresses inflammation from at least five mechanisms involved in the inflammatory process.
Curcumin is being used more and more in the functional and integrative medicine areas.
Mechanisms of Action
Curcumin slows cellular death (especially death of cartilage cells) in the joints preserving form and function keeping joints more youthful. Curcumin’s anti-inflammatory effects go well beyond arthritis and controls inflammation of all causes.
Curcumin inhibits nuclear factor kappa-B, the main modulator of inflammation. In the joints curcumin suppresses tumor necrosis factor which destroys cartilage if left unchecked. It inhibits growth of new blood vessels associated with inflammation and cancer. Curcumin enhances the effects of other drugs used in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and blocks the growth of cells involved in the inflammatory process.
Results of Curcumin in Rheumatoid Arthritis
A study published in March 2012 using a highly bioavailable form of curcumin found that patients receiving curcumin experienced less pain, less joint swelling and tenderness, and better reduction in inflammatory blood markers compared to those who took diclofenac, a NSAID. Plus, curcumin receivers did not experience any side effects.
Ways to Take Curcumin
Curcumin can be taken as a supplement or can be incorporated into your cooking to add flavor to your foods. To enhance curcumin’s effectiveness it should be cooked with fat. Heating the spice with ghee, milk, or oil will activate it’s healing properties.
Turmeric can be used to make golden milk, used in sauces and soups, curry dishes, sprinkled over eggs for breakfast, and used in stir-fries. So it is quite versatile when used in cooking.08
You should store turmeric powder in a cool, dry place away from sunlight.
Not All Curcumin is the Same
One problem with curcumin is it is not well absorbed in the GI tract where it is rapidly broken down. In recent years it’s been possible to enhance the bioavailability of curcumin through special processing and manufacturing techniques. BCM-95 is a patented highly bioavailable form of curcumin licensed to several nutritional supplement manufacturers. It is seven times more bioavailable than the standard extract of curcumin. Be sure to find a curcumin supplement containing patented BCM-95. The recommended dose of highly bioavailable curcumin is 500 mg a day.
If using tumeric powder it is recommended that you use 1 to 2 teaspoons of the powder or up to 3 grams of ground turmeric root daily to obtain its health benefits.
Tumeric powder can also be applied topically to treat superficial cuts, sprains, and acne because it has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial (antibacterial) properties.
If you suffer from arthritis and have found NSAIDs to be ineffective or causing you side effects consider trying curcumin. Consider curcumin first even if you haven’t tried a NSAID for your arthritis.