If you think Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a rare disease, think again. Over 2.5 million people across the world have MS.
Multiple sclerosis is a nervous system disorder. It occurs when there is a lack of synergy between the immune and nervous system of the human body.
So instead of working with one another in harmony, the immune system progressively invades the protective membranes, myelin sheath of the nerves causing damage to the brain and the spinal cord in the process.
Common symptoms of the disease include visual trouble, loss of balance and coordination and a recurring ‘pins and needles’ sensation in the limbs. These signs may begin to show in immunocompromised individuals aging from 20-40.
Most cases are mild, however, in severe incidences, basic motor abilities such as the ability to walk, speak and write are lost.
While the definite cause of the disease is yet to be established there is speculation among scientists regarding possible reasons for its occurrence. Some say it occurs as an autoimmune reaction while others feel that it may happen on infection of an unrecognized pathogen.
Along with causes of the condition, the question regarding a suitable cure for the same also remains. Although various organizations are conducting extensive research and clinical trials to aid Multiple Sclerosis treatment, so far only modes lessening its impact and decelerating its progress have been discovered.
The diagnosis of the disease is a complex process requiring a series of tests such as physical and neurological exams followed with MRI (magnetic resonance imaging).
If you already know about Turmeric, please jump to the relevant section using the Table of Contents below, else please read on.
Table of Contents
- What is turmeric?
- 8 Proven Benefits of Turmeric in Multiple Sclerosis
- 1. Turmeric and curcumin are neuroprotective agents
- 2. It has natural anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects
- 3. Curcumin is a promising nutraceutical agent for multiple sclerosis
- 4. It has immunomodulatory property that can benefit in multiple sclerosis
- 5. It regulates T cell mechanisms to reduce autoimmune responses in multiple sclerosis
- 6. It regulates gene expression that may benefit in multiple sclerosis
- 7. It protects cognition
- 8. It attenuates fatigue
- Dosage of Turmeric For Multiple Sclerosis
What is turmeric?
Turmeric is a spice used in Indian curries as a flavouring and colouring agent. Throughout history, it has been used in traditional medical practices as it possesses unique healing properties and some bioactive compounds that can drive away diseases.
Its use as a therapeutic agent is popularised due to its potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
8 Proven Benefits of Turmeric in Multiple Sclerosis
Turmeric / curcumin have nerve-protecting properties thus helping in multiple sclerosis. Turmeric’s anti-inflammatory property prevents flare-ups and alleviates symptoms of pain while restoring mobility to affected parts of the body. Turmeric’s ability to eliminate free radicles makes it an appropriate natural pharmacological agent for Multiple Sclerosis therapy.
Some of the benefits of turmeric in the treatment of multiple sclerosis have been listed as follows:
1. Turmeric and curcumin are neuroprotective agents
A neuroprotective agent is a compound whose administration protects nerve cells from deterioration and loss of function. Several recent studies have shown the potential of turmeric extracts and curcumin obtained from it to be used as such agents concerning Multiple Sclerosis.
In 2014, Tegenge MA et al. demonstrated the ability of curcumin to defend axons of nerves i.e. nerve projections responsible for transport of electrical impulses across the body.
The mode through which this was brought about was the antioxidant activity of the compound aided with its ability to block the JNK pathway, a key mechanism involved in nerve deterioration.
Another similar study showed the application of curcuminoids extracted from turmeric in some neurodegenerative diseases. The results of this study were highly beneficial as it reordered the anti-inflammatory effects of curcuminoids and also highlighted their ability to protect from environmental toxins.
One more positive effect of turmeric in multiple sclerosis treatments is effective blockage of the enzymes, phospholipases. These enzymes are crucial to neural inflammation and damage to the brain.
Through moderation of their levels, turmeric successfully lessens the impact of neurological problems.
What does this mean?
The curcuminoids present in turmeric possess neuroprotective properties i.e. they act against nerve damage causing agents. They monitor phospholipase activity enabling them useful in multiple sclerosis therapies.
2. It has natural anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects
Neurological disorders are highly complex and have some mechanisms leading to nervous system degradation. As such, new medical developments are being made to target harmful pathways and molecules and eradicate them specifically.
One such therapeutic agent has been developed using the polyphenolic compound present in turmeric, curcumin.
Through an animal model study, it was demonstrated that the administration of Polymerised nanocurcumin (PNC) showed disease preventive results.
The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of the compound aided in strengthening the BBB (Blood Brain Barrier) along with restabilising nerve cells, in turn returning motility to neurological disorder affected limbs and tissues.
What does this mean?
The compound curcumin present in turmeric acts synergistically against signs of inflammation. The myriad of signals involved in disease formation are blocked thereby delaying the onset of Multiple Sclerosis.
3. Curcumin is a promising nutraceutical agent for multiple sclerosis
Farinotti M through his extensive studies on dietary associations corresponding to their effects on Multiple Sclerosis has constantly stressed on one key finding, vitamins D, E, A and polyphenolic nutrients are capable of modulating disease symptoms.
This suggests that turmeric’s yellow polyphenolic compound, curcumin has potential as a nutraceutical mode of treatment of Multiple Sclerosis. The ‘disease modifying’ capabilities of the compound can be attributed to its anti-inflammatory effects which soothe the intestinal micro flora thus preventing flare ups of nerve cells.
It also suppresses inflammation promoting genetic markers like NF-κB.
These positive nutraceutical effects have been tested in animal models and are now being examined through clinical trials.
What does this mean?
The administration of curcumin suppresses inflammatory activity in the immune cells surrounding the nervous tissues. This ability to manipulate cell signals and reactions imparts Multiple Sclerosis preventive activity to the compound.
4. It has immunomodulatory property that can benefit in multiple sclerosis
Astrocytes are cells of the nervous system which get their name from being star-shaped. One of the key characteristics of Multiple Sclerosis is inflammatory activity at the astrocytes which may cause an alteration in their numbers.
This phenomenon is the reason behind recurrence of symptoms of the disease.
As per a study published in International Immunopharmacology, 2014 curcumin administration may aid astrocyte status is sclerosis affected individuals. The effects of curcumin on various inflammatory pathways- enzymatic, molecular and genetic level were studied.
It was observed that the activity of proinflammatory cytokines, levels of Interleukin and enzymes like MMP-9 were significantly decreased. The population of astrocytes was also within regular numbers.
What does this mean?
Turmeric is rich in anti-inflammatory compounds that prevent and reversing events leading to harmful flare ups. Such compounds also regulate cell signals, and this activity is believed to be responsible for the compound’s therapeutic abilities.
5. It regulates T cell mechanisms to reduce autoimmune responses in multiple sclerosis
T cells are immune cells which regulate some defence mechanisms in our body. However, it has been observed that these cells contribute significantly to the progression of autoimmune diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis and Rheumatoid Arthritis.
However, curcumin provides a suitable pharmacological relief for this condition. It blocks channels responsible for the spread of disease symptoms across the body, particularly the Kv1.3 channel and does not allow the secretion of pro inflammatory molecules and cytokines.
A study published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry highlighted how curcumin administration systematically modified T cell activity and decreased concentrations of the inflammation causing agents interferon (IFN) γ and interleukin (IL)-17 in an animal model of the autoimmune disease experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE).
A similar study on a model of EAE showed the antioxidant potentials of the compound as it effectively lowered the expression of two types of T cells- CD4+ and CD8+ in a dosage and time-dependent manner.
These findings were validated once more through Fahey AJ’s experiment determining the ability of curcumin to suppress mechanisms mediated by certain disease-causing factors such as interferon IFN-alpha-induced pSTAT4 molecule.
What does this mean?
Since the compound, curcumin present in turmeric is capable of binding to T cells and regulating their immunological activity, it has potential to be used as a Multiple Sclerosis preventive agent as it acts against inflammation.
6. It regulates gene expression that may benefit in multiple sclerosis
The ability of curcumin to heal multiple diseases is believed by scientists to be due to the pleiotropic effects it exerts on different body cells. This means that through targeting one pathway it, in turn, blocks subsequent toxic reactions taking place in other unrelated sites.
It blocks some diseases promoting genes thereby suppressing linked transcription factors, proteins, and enzymes. It has also shown potential to modulate cell activities like cell cycle arrest and cell death. This enables the compound useful in proliferative problems such as Multiple Sclerosis.
Some of the key genetic factors that can be regulated through curcumin administration:NF-KB, AP-1, Egr-1, STATs and PPAR-gamma.
What does this mean?
The use of turmeric strengthens the genetic defenses in the body and is therefore useful in the treatment of Multiple Sclerosis.
7. It protects cognition
Several scientific studies have emphasized on the linkage between a nutritive diet and brain health. Turmeric consumption can aid the nervous system in many ways. Due to its high antioxidant levels, it can easily eliminate harmful free radicles.
In fact, turmeric has the 4th highest ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) among all spices.
Analysis of its effects on an injured brain yielded positive results as it was seen that the radical scavenging activity of curcumin helped lessen the impact of injury on the brain and in turn returned functionality and thinking capacity to it.
What does this mean?
Turmeric’s antioxidant action helps protect brain health and preserve cognition in multiple sclerosis.
8. It attenuates fatigue
One of the common effects of a neurological disorder is the constant feeling of tiredness and fatigue. This causes body organs to slow down and lose their functionality over time.
Turmeric can reverse such effects as well making it an amazing nutrient source for Multiple Sclerosis patients.
Amit Gupta and colleagues carried out an animal model based experiment to observe how curcumin affected reactivity and sensitivity in an animal model of compromised immunity. Through their study, they were able to see a signification improvement in mobility and reaction to external stimuli.
Curcumin has also shown fatigue reducing effects in human trials with patients who had recently undergone surgery.
What does this mean?
Turmeric helps alleviate fatigue in case of compromised immunity.
Dosage of Turmeric For Multiple Sclerosis
Golden paste combines turmeric with black pepper to aid absorption by the body.
There is no specific optimal dosage. It varies from person to person based on what suits them. Starting with a low dose is advised to avoid gastric side effects.
Start with small doses such as ¼-1/2 tsp a day for a week and if no gastric side effects are seen increase gradually by ¼-1/2 tsp every week. The recommended dose is 1-2 tsp 2-3 times a day (precisely 1 tsp 3 times a day).
Avoid taking on an empty stomach and if taking large doses avoid taking it the same time of taking medications. (Read Does Turmeric cause acid reflux? Black pepper in GP: Does it cause drug interaction?)
Some good brands to purchase are mentioned in our recommendations of organic turmeric brands.
Treatment of multiple sclerosis may require curcumin supplements in addition to dietary turmeric. Please consult a health practitioner about the same.
Despite the multiple benefits turmeric has to offer, it is best to seek the advice of a medical professional before beginning its use as a supplement. (Side effects of turmeric, Precautions with turmeric use, Side effects and precautions with Curcumin)
Large dosages are sometimes linked to acid reflux. Its use is not advisable on an empty stomach.
Turmeric has antiplatelet property, and hence turmeric supplements should be avoided if suffering from bleeding risks. You may consult a doctor before taking turmeric in this case. (Read Is turmeric a blood thinner?)
Curcumin interferes with drug metabolism enzymes and hence should not be taken concomitantly with any medication.
Avoid turmeric supplements in pregnancy and lactation.
Turmeric and its extracts, especially curcumin have some nerve-protecting properties. Their high bioactivity imparts in them the ability to regulate molecular mechanisms and drive away markers of multiple sclerosis.
Through inhibition of inflammation causing agents, they help prevent flare-ups and alleviate symptoms of pain while restoring mobility to affected parts of the body.
Its ability to eliminate free radicles is also commendable and makes it an appropriate natural pharmacological agent for Multiple Sclerosis therapy.