Before going ahead and talk about how turmeric can help, let us discuss a bit about the disease itself.
The plantar fascia is a thick tissue band that is found along the length of the underside of our feet. It connects our toes to our heel bone.
Plantar fasciitis (heel spurs) is a medical condition that causes inflammation and pain of the plantar fascia. This is a common cause of heel pain. Symptoms develop gradually and can affect one or both feet.
It is characterized by intense, stabbing pain especially when the first steps are taken in the morning after waking up when we stand long periods or get up after being seated.
Tears to the plantar fascia are caused by tension or repetitive stretching.
This inflames and irritates the plantar fascia.
Some factors like age, sex, exercises like aerobics, ballet dancing or long-distance running, faulty footwear used to correct certain abnormalities of the feet like flat feet or abnormal walking pattern, obesity that places stress on the feet, work that keeps you standing for long periods and wearing improper shoes can all cause plantar fasciitis.
This condition can be cured with conventional medication, physiotherapy or lifestyle remedies.
Table of Contents
- What is Turmeric?
- Turmeric for Plantar Fasciitis
- Turmeric Benefits of Plantar Fasciitis
- Turmeric Dosage
What is Turmeric?
Turmeric or Curcuma longa is a South Asian herb that belongs to the same family as ginger. The thick and fleshy rhizomes of this plant are most commonly used to make turmeric powder, which is popular spice in many South Asian cuisines.
Turmeric has been used widely in the Indian Ayurvedic system of medicine for treatment of various diseases.
More recently, studies have been conducted on this medicinal plant, and its numerous benefits to health have been scientifically proven, some which include its ability to treat inflammation, wounds, infections, cancer and other diseases of the brain and heart.
These properties of Turmeric are usually believed to be due to the presence of the active compound, curcumin in turmeric.
Here are some amazing benefits of Turmeric for Plantar fasciitis treatment.
Turmeric for Plantar Fasciitis
There are many alternative ways to treat plantar fasciitis apart from using conventional medications.
Exercise, using the right footwear, mind-body therapy, acupuncture and natural supplements may benefit this condition.
Curcumin, the yellow pigment in turmeric has powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Many studies have found that curcumin has anti-inflammatory effects which are similar to strong drugs that contain phenylbutazone, hydrocortisone and even OTC medications.
These medications can cause toxic side effects like intestinal bleeding, ulcers or decreased WBC count. The great advantage of curcumin is that unlike these drugs, there are virtually no side effects unless it is taken for long periods in high doses.
Turmeric Benefits of Plantar Fasciitis
Turmeric can benefit in plantar fasciitis in several ways. Turmeric is one of the best natural anti-inflammatory agents, thus it can help with inflammation associated with plantar fasciitis. Turmeric’s natural painkilling abilities also help in relieving heel pain without any side effects. Turmeric is also an anti-oxidant agent and helps reduce further damage to muscle cells and tissue from damage.
These benefits are discussed in detail below –
Turmeric reduces Inflammation in Planar fasciitis
Overuse of the plantar fascia ligament of the feet leads to its wear and tear. This causes the body to initiate an immune response to heal the broken or damaged tissues.
The body then releases specialized cells, proteins, and other compounds at the injury site to repair the tissues. This surge of cells leads to inflammation in the area, which can be seen as swelling and redness.
Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) are administered to fight these, but they are believed to cause other side effects including liver damage.
Curcumin present in turmeric is not only an excellent anti-inflammatory agent, but it is also more efficient and safe for use than these widely used drugs.
Due to its potential for reducing inflammation, it has therapeutic advantages in the treatment of various diseases which are caused by inflammatory processes.
Also, studies conducted in animal models have proposed turmeric powder as a treatment measure for sprain and inflammation.
The inflammatory process of the body is mediated by several enzymes, transcription factors, and immune cells. Curcumin inhibits not one but all these mediators of inflammation.
In studies, it has been found to inhibit enzymes like cyclooxygenase, lipoxygenase, collagenase, elastase, hyaluronidase, and phospholipase.
The transcription factors like nuclear factor kappa-B (NF-kB) and interferon-inducible protein which carry out the process of inflammation are also inhibited by curcumin.
Additionally, Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF) and interleukins are the molecules of the immune system which are inhibited by it.
In other studies, curcumin was found to be a more potent anti-inflammatory agent than the commonly used drugs like ibuprofen and aspirin.
Athletes who indulge in sports like downhill running can suffer from damage and inflammation to their feet. Studies have been conducted on the anti-inflammatory benefits of turmeric that can offset this damage.
In one study, male mice were made to run on a treadmill, mimicking uphill or downhill running. Other mice were given other physical activities. After the test period, the mice were checked for inflammatory cytokines and other parameters.
The mice were given curcumin before the experiment had lesser signs of inflammatory cytokines and creatine kinase. This supports the theory the curcumin could offset exercise-induced damage to the muscles.
In a study conducted on the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory potential of curcumin, mice were given this chemical for one month and the results were studied.
It was found that turmeric reduced paw-thickness, chronic and acute inflammation. It also showed antinociceptive (ability of a compound to reduce sensitive reaction to painful stimuli) activity.
Turmeric extract curcumin can improve primary inflammatory efficiency since it is said to be a biological response modifier. This may heal inflammatory tissues associated with plantar fasciitis.
What does this mean?
Curcumin in turmeric inhibits various inflammatory mediators which cause inflammation in the feet and it is better in action that most commonly used anti-inflammatory drugs.
Turmeric helps in Relieving Pain in the Heel
The pain in Plantar fasciitis is felt few hours after exercising. It is usually felt in the heels and sometimes progresses to other parts of the feet.
This pain causes significant discomfort, difficulty in walking and moving around and the person is unable to perform his/her daily tasks.
Painkillers are usually taken by people to combat this pain, but these painkillers are harmful and have adverse effects on health.
Curcumin present in turmeric is known to possess pain-relieving propensities which can be used for alleviating pain in plantar fasciitis.
In animal models, the analgesic effects of curcumin have been studied, and it was found that curcumin helps in removing the sensations of pain and helps with pain modulation.
It is particularly useful in attenuating pain caused by inflammatory processes, and it is as potent painkiller as diclofenac.
Moreover, it also helps in removing the toxicity caused by other analgesic drugs like paracetamol.
What does this mean?
Curcumin in turmeric helps with pain relief and is as effective as other widely used painkillers.
Turmeric has Antioxidant Properties
The repairing mechanism of the body leads to the production of certain byproducts like free radicals and reactive oxygen species, which act as toxins and neutralize themselves by attacking the body cells.
In Plantar fasciitis, when the plantar fascia ligament is torn, inflammation and the subsequent immune response cause production of free radicals. This causes an increase in the number of reactive oxygen species, which the body is unable to combat, and as a result oxidative stress develops.
Antioxidative substances are required by the body to deal with these free radicals and protect other healthy body cells from damage.
Curcumin present in turmeric is an excellent antioxidant. It protects the cells of the body from oxidative stress and oxidant-mediated injury.
It has oxygen radical scavenging activity due to which it interacts directly with the radicals and neutralizes them. It also increases the production of the antioxidants.
In studies, it has also been found that oil from turmeric has antioxidant properties and helps in scavenging free radicals.
What does this mean?
Turmeric has potent antioxidants and helps in protecting the body from toxins.
Turmeric helps in weight loss
It is a known fact that obese persons are at a higher risk of developing plantar fasciitis as excess body weight puts more pressure on the heels and strains the muscles of the foot.
Thus, it might be beneficial for such persons to lose weight and prevent damage to the ligaments caused by more pressure from excess body weight.
Turmeric not only helps in relieving the symptoms of Plantar fasciitis but can also avoid this disorder from developing by assisting in reducing the body weight.
Curcumin present in turmeric prevents fat deposition by suppressing the growth and formation of fat cells in the body.
It promotes lipid metabolism as a result of which lipids, instead of getting stored as fats, are utilized by the body. Thus, curcumin helps in lowering the body weight, prevents weight gain and obesity.
In a study conducted on 44 subjects, it was found that in the group of persons which consumed curcumin, 5% loss in body weight, up to 8% reduction of body fats, 4% lowering of the waistline, 2.5% decrease in hip circumference and up to 6% BMI reduction was observed.
Thus, it was concluded that curcumin could serve as a useful measure for weight management.
What does this mean?
Turmeric prevents Plantar Fasciitis by helping in losing body weight and reducing pressure on the heels and feet.
Turmeric protects the muscle cells and tissues from damage
The overuse of the plantar fascia of the foot caused by exercising, running or doing other activities causes structural damage and causes the wear and tear of the tissues of the feet.
Curcumin found in turmeric helps in preventing the harm and defects to the muscles and tissues caused by eccentric exercises like downhill running.
Due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant behaviour, it helps in protecting the cells and tissues of the feet from damage by toxins.
What does this mean?
Turmeric has protective effects on the body tissues and muscles and helps in their repair.
There no specific dosage of Turmeric for Plantar fasciitis. However, it is beneficial and safe to include turmeric in the diet to treat and prevent this disorder.
Turmeric and Curcumin have reduced bioavailability which means that it is not properly absorbed and utilized by the body. (Read – How to improve Turmeric’s Bioavailability?)
A proper way to benefit from Turmeric’s properties is to use the Golden Paste ( Read recipe here). It is prepared by combining turmeric with black pepper and healthy fats which increase its absorption by the body.
The recipe for Golden paste prepared from Turmeric powder can be found here.
Here is the recipe to make it from fresh Turmeric roots.
When including Turmeric in your diet, begin with small amounts such as ¼ to 1/2 teaspoon a day. If after one week, no side effects or gastric inconsistencies are observed, then the dosage can be increased by 1/4 to 1/2 tsp per week.
Dosage differs from person to person and depends on the tolerance level of the stomach of that person.
The recommended dose of turmeric (Golden Paste) is one teaspoon three times a day.
Turmeric and curcumin supplements are also available but should be taken by consulting with a medical practitioner.
How to use turmeric topically for plantar fasciitis?
Turmeric can also be applied topically to the affected area to relieve pain. Turmeric powder can be added to virgin olive oil or coconut oil to form a paste. It will also benefit to warm the oil before applying.
The paste can be massaged gently on the heels or bottom of the foot, wherever pain exists and covered with gauze for about 30 minutes to one hour. After this, the area can be cleaned with cold water.
This can be repeated 2-3 times daily for a week or two with positive results.
For more details Read Topical Turmeric for Inflammation.
Turmeric is considered safe for consumption in the diet, but some precautions must be taken (Read – Side Effects of Turmeric)
Turmeric supplements should be avoided during pregnancy, lactation, before surgery, by persons having gall bladder obstruction and bleeding disorders.
Gout patients and individuals having a risk of developing kidney stones should limit the intake of turmeric.
Read – Is Turmeric safe in gout?
Read – Does Turmeric cause kidney stone?
Turmeric should not be taken on empty stomach to avoid acid reflux.
Turmeric has anti-platelet activity. Please consume turmeric with caution if suffering from bleeding disorders or taking anti-platelet medication. (Read Is Turmeric A Blood Thinner?)
Turmeric can interfere with the working mechanism of certain drugs like anti-depressants, blood glucose reducing drugs and drugs used to reduce stomach acids.
Thus, it is not advisable to take turmeric or curcumin supplements when taking other medications. Maintain a 3-4 hour gap. Consult a health practitioner prior.
Turmeric is beneficial in case of Plantar Fasciitis, both when applied topically and taken orally.
It has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties which help in relieving the pain and inflammation which occurs in Plantar Fasciitis. It also helps in weight loss and prevents the body tissues from damage.
However, turmeric or curcumin have not been directly studied in the case of Plantar Fasciitis and more research is required in this field to form a definite conclusion.
However, when taken with certain precautions, turmeric can help in relieving the symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis.
Our suggestion here would be to get right footwear, precautions while running etc. and natural remedies can really help in Plantar fascia.