Before coming to why and how turmeric helps in inflammation, let me discuss a bit about inflammation in general. Inflammation is the natural response of the immune system to protect the body against infections caused by microorganisms or other foreign substances.
It is the common symptom associated with diseases such as arthritis, psoriasis, asthma, and bronchitis. It causes symptoms such as redness, stiff and aching joints, fever, headache, loss of appetite and fatigue.
Use of turmeric for inflammation treats all of these symptoms efficiently in par with the anti-inflammatory drugs.
The active ingredient curcumin present in turmeric plays role in treatment of various ailments and associated symptoms.
Curcumin treats cold, cough, bronchitis, asthma, arthritis and even cancers. Here is an overview of the use of turmeric for inflammation, a common symptom associated with various ailments.
Please feel free to use the Table of Contents below to jump to the relevant section in the article.
Table of Contents
How turmeric treats inflammation?
Studies have shown that curcumin has significant anti-inflammatory properties. Turmeric is a dual inhibitor of the arachidonic acid cascade (know more about it here). Turmeric serves as a strong anti-inflammatory herb by showing its effect on prostaglandins metabolism (know more here).
It acts on the enzyme cyclooxygenase -5 –lipoxygenase and curbs its activity. As a result, arachidonic acid metabolism that is responsible for the formation of inflammation and pain-inducing prostaglandin PG2 will take place only to some extent. With a reduced amount of PG2, inflammation and pain also subside.
Anti-inflammatory effect of turmeric has also been lab tested on rats and the test had positive effects. Based on research papers by Gukovsky et al 2003, Curcumin has also shown to restrain inflammation in experimental pancreatitis in rats.
Curcumin is also found to control the action of certain cytokines, transcription factors, kinases, redox status of enzymes and all adhesion molecules that are associated with the inflammation process.
Anti-inflammatory action of curcumin is comparable to drugs such as phenybutazone and hydrocortisone that are generally used to reduce swelling. An added advantage of using curcumin is it saves you from toxic effects caused by drugs such as the formation of ulcers, intestinal bleeding and lowered WBC. Let me elaborate a few common disorders where inflammation is involved.
Various medical conditions associated with inflammation and use of turmeric
Inflammation is observed in the majority of cardiovascular diseases such as atherosclerosis and ischemia. Use of curcumin protects the heart from ischemia and reperfusion by preventing a drop in the rate of heartbeat and blood pressure.
It also prevents the elevation of certain enzymes such as lactate dehydrogenase that rise following ischemia. Curcumin reduces the risk of inflammation and heart failure by suppressing the expression of inflammatory genes.
Curcumin plays role in alleviating diabetes and associated symptoms by regulating the expression of inflammatory transcription factors and cytokines responsible for the development of diabetes.
It also shows hypocholesterolemic effect, free radical scavenging property, and antioxidant property that aid in controlling diabetes. Orally taken curcumin corrects the metabolic processes and promotes glycemic control in people suffering from obesity and prevents diabetes.
By preventing oxidative stress and inflammation it also plays role in preventing diabetic retinopathy. The anti-nociceptive activity of turmeric along with insulin reduces diabetic neuropathic pain.
It also fastens the wound healing process that normally gets impaired in diabetics.
Read more about turmeric benefits for diabetes here>
Allergy, bronchitis, and asthma
Curcumin treats inflammation associated with asthma, allergy, and bronchitis by regulating the expression of inflammatory cytokines and by increasing the levels of antioxidants in the body. It treats allergy associated inflammation by increasing the synthesis of IgG antibodies.
By regulating the activity of the enzyme histone deacetylase turmeric normalizes the functioning of corticosteroids that normally aid in controlling inflammation.
Treats inflammation and pain associated with arthritis by regulating the expression of Cox-2 inhibitors and PG2 production.
The anti-inflammatory action of curcumin is also utilized in the treatment of renal ischemia, psoriasis, inflammatory bowel disease, cancer, and scleroderma.
Side effects of excessive use of turmeric for inflammation
Though turmeric is safe to use excessive use of the herb may lead to certain side effects.
- Stomach upset.
- Risk of bleeding in patients with blood disorders such as hemophilia.
- Contraction of gallbladder especially in people suffering from gallstones.
- Drop in blood pressure.
- Stimulation of the uterus and menstrual flow.
- Lowered blood sugar levels.
- Interacts with the activity of drugs such as blood thinners, antacids, diabetic medications and hypertension medications.
Use of turmeric for inflammation at safe dosage limits is highly beneficial because of its ability to control multiple pathways responsible for inflammation. It is also less expensive compared to NSAIDS and other drugs used to treat inflammation.
Turmeric is very safe when used as a spice. To know more details on how much turmeric you can use in a day check this detailed article on dosage. If you are wondering how to include turmeric in your diet here is my list of two awesome ways:
Also, there so several other recipes under recipe section of the website.
In the end.
Several people I know have used turmeric, especially for arthritis. They have also reported benefits by using it. I would get back with more details on how you can use turmeric for arthritis very soon. Stay tuned!