Turmeric Benefits for Rheumatoid Arthritis

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Arthritis has become a very common joint disorder today. There are various kinds of arthritis; one of them is Rheumatoid arthritis.

Rheumatoid arthritis causes inflammation of the joints and tissues surrounding them. This long-term disease sometimes affects other organs as well. Although occurring more at middle age, it can affect people of all ages. However, women are more susceptible than men. When the immune system misbehaves and accidentally attacks healthy tissue, rheumatoid arthritis can occur. It is an autoimmune disease. Genes, hormonal changes and infection are some reasons why this disease can occur.

Starting with minor joint pain, rheumatoid arthritis can soon result in loss of motion and deformity to the joints. Apart from this, chest pain, dry mouth and eyes, burning sensation in the eyes accompanied by itching and discharge, tingling and numbness in the feet and hands and skin nodules are some of the other symptoms. Patients usually require lifelong treatment which could include medication, exercise, physical therapy and surgery.

Turmeric for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Can turmeric help in Rheumatoid arthritis? The answer seems to be yes. As I do in all cases associated with turmeric benefits, I will provide here with briefs of various studies conducted which prove turmeric benefits in case of Rheumatoid arthritis. As indicated in several of my articles before, the proofs existing for natural cures such as turmeric are sometimes not as strong (or maybe just documented) as that of modern medicine. But that does mean they are not effective. 

Why turmeric if beneficial? It is because of its amazing anti-inflammatory properties. Theturmeric for Rheumatoid Arthritis medicinal properties of turmeric have been well documented for centuries by practitioners of Ayurveda. Based on this, there are dietary supplements being made using turmeric extracts to prevent and treat arthritis.

Further, since there are many side effects of taking NSAIDs for long-term treatment of RA, studies have been done on the anti-arthritic properties of various herbs including turmeric.

What studies tell about turmeric and Rheumatoid arthritis

Studies have been conducted on the efficacy of turmeric extracts contain curcuminoids in treating arthritis. An animal model was used and a clinical measure was done of joint swelling as the basis to assess the turmeric’s benefits. When treatment began before inflammation, an essential oil of turmeric that contained 41% of 3 major curcuminoids was found to be very potent. A commercially available turmeric sample that had 94% of the same curcuminoids was even more potent in preventing arthritis. The study concluded that it is the major curcuminoids and not crude turmeric extract that offers the greatest anti-inflammatory benefits.

Another research study has found that curcumin – an active ingredient in turmeric – can benefit those with rheumatoid arthritis since it has anti-arthritic and anti-inflammatory properties. A study was done to determine the effectiveness and safety of using curcumin independently and combined with Voltaren – a Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID). The study found that bioavailable forms of curcumin were high effective in easing rheumatoid arthritis symptoms such as swollen and tender joints. Those who took only turmeric demonstrated greater improvement in their symptoms.

Another observation was that the group which took only turmeric supplements did not have any side effects, whereas 14% of those that took a combination of turmeric and NSAIDs did have some adverse effects.

Another 2006 study also found that turmeric supplements were able to reduce joint inflammation and could protect joints from being badly damaged. Curcumin in turmeric is said to influence at least 700 and more genes. This could inhibit excess activity on enzymes like 5-LOX and COX2 and others that are the cause of inflammatory conditions in the body. It is important to use the right form of curcumin that can be absorbed by the body. Normally, turmeric is required in high doses to actually provide the necessary therapeutic benefits.

According to NCCAM (National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine), there are many dietary and herbal supplements and other alternative and complementary therapies that could benefit patients with rheumatoid arthritis. There are several ongoing studies on the benefits of turmeric for this disease. One study has found that regular consumption of turmeric can relieve symptoms of joint pain and morning stiffness.

Studies have been conducted at the University Of Arizona College Of Medicine on the anti-arthritic benefits of turmeric. Researchers prepared fresh turmeric extracts using the root of the plant and used this to compare against commercial turmeric supplements. Three tests were conducted using animal models. They were given only turmeric essential oils, whole turmeric root extract and an oil-depleted extract that had 3 major curcuminoids from the turmeric rhizome. The last extract was the most potent in preventing rheumatoid arthritis. It was also the extract that closely resembled commercially available turmeric supplements. This is said to be among the first studies done on living organisms to test the anti-arthritic benefits of turmeric. This research is a pre-cursor to clinical trials before recommending turmeric supplements preventing rheumatoid arthritis.

Tests were conducted at the Center of Phytomedicine Research on rats by mimicking symptoms of human rheumatoid arthritis in them. The infected rats were given turmeric extracts of differing dosages. Some rats were treated even before they developed symptoms of the disease and some afterwards. Results were determined by measuring swelling in the joints. They revealed that turmeric extracts containing only curcuminoids seemed more effective in preventing symptoms than an extract containing turmeric compounds and curcuminoids similar to commercial supplements. Supplements containing only curcuminoids seemed more effective and safer when given in lower doses. Rats that were treated before onset of RA symptoms responded better than after inflammation set in. the researchers concluded that further studies were needed to determine turmeric’s efficacy in treating RA symptoms.

Another study established that curcumin could inhibit the production of prostaglandin E(2) – a hormone-like substance that has been known to cause rheumatoid arthritis. While these were again laboratory tests, results proved that curcumin could offer a new therapeutic way to prevent hyperplasia (proliferation of cells) in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

In one study, 18 patients with rheumatoid arthritis were divided into groups. One group was given 1200mg / day curcumin and the other 300mg/day of phenylbutazone. At the end of the tests, both groups showed improvement in symptoms of morning stiffness, joint swelling and walking time improved. The authors state that this demonstrates convincing evidence of the anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin although no comparisons were made between the two groups.

Turmeric Dosage for Rheumatoid arthritis

Turmeric is available as capsules, ground spice powder, creams and other liquid extracts. Curcumin is the ingredient in active ingredient in turmeric that helps with inflammatory conditions and protects against damage by free radicals. I believe it is tough to say what is proper dosage of turmeric for rheumatoid arthritis as depends upon lots of factors – age, extent of disease, etc. Based on what was available from some reliable sources the recommended dosage of curcumin for rheumatoid arthritis is 350-400mg thrice daily. But I would strongly advise to consult and identify right dosage for you.

Precautions

Taking turmeric in curries or medicinal quantities will not cause any side effects. Excess consumption could cause diarrhea and nausea or ulcers in extreme cases. Turmeric supplements should be avoided by those who are pregnant for it could affect the uterus. Those with diabetes and gall bladder problems or require surgery must avoid taking turmeric supplements for it could interact with other medications, especially anti-coagulants. Always inform your doctor before taking any herbal supplements.