The bright yellow spice known as turmeric is truly a nature’s bounty with a plethora of health benefits. While use of the golden spice goes back to ancient medicine, precisely Ayurveda, modern medicine also is catching on.
The compound curcumin that gives the spice its vibrant color, earthy aroma and slightly bitter taste also makes it a potent healer with essential antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. (1)
Several studies conducted around the world now vouch for the efficacy of this humble rhizome in treating arthritis, a general term that means inflammation in joints.
- Arthritis Facts
- Types of Arthritis
- Causes of Arthritis
- Symptoms of Arthritis
- When not to Consume Turmeric?
- Natural Ways to Use Turmeric for Arthritis Relief
- Tips to keep in mind
Arthritis is a relatively common health affliction that causes one or more joints to become painfully inflamed. Contrary to standard usage, arthritis doesn’t stand for a singular condition but is an umbrella term for more than 100 rheumatic ailments that can be responsible for joint inflammation.
Only a few of these variants of arthritis are prevalent and well-recognized, while most remain rather rare and obscure. By impairing a person’s ability to perform basic activities like walking and climbing stairs as well as other everyday tasks, arthritis is a progressively worsening scourge that renders one severely incapacitated.
You can gauge the magnitude of the debilitating impact of this group of conditions by the fact that it currently figures as one of the leading causes of disability in America.
Although arthritis is most commonly associated with older individuals above the age of 65, it is not exclusive to them. Children, teens and younger adults as well as men and women of all races can also develop arthritis.
The physical point of connection between two bones is known as the joint. The ends of each which are covered with a cushioning surface called cartilage.
This protective covering of connective tissue helps reduce friction between the bones as well as absorb the stress and shock generated by joint movement.
Arthritis is characterized by the degeneration of the cartilage in the joint, which causes the bones to rub against one another thereby leading to joint pain, stiffness, and swelling.
While the damage caused by arthritis is usually detected via X-rays, some severe forms of arthritis can even cause your joints to become visibly disfigured.
When arthritis is limited to a single joint, the state is termed as monoarthritic. When it progresses to two or three joints, the condition is referred as oligoarthritic. An advanced stage involving four or more joints is referred to as polyarthritis.
Types of Arthritis
There are several types of arthritis, but the two most prevalent types are:
- Osteoarthritis - In which cartilage between the bones wears down over time, leading to friction and inflammation of the joints. This is the most common type of arthritis.
- Rheumatoid arthritis - An autoimmune disease that damages the synovial membrane that protects the joints.
- Gout - A common yet intensely painful condition that is caused by the buildup of uric acid crystals in and around the joint which lead to joint redness, inflammation, pain and swelling.
Causes of Arthritis
Although the exact cause for arthritis remains unknown, there are certain factors that can exacerbate the natural wear and tear of cartilage tissue and lead to the onset of joint inflammation. These include:
- The general breakdown of the connective tissue in your joints tends to get progressively worse as you grow older.
- Women are more prone to most forms of arthritis, except for gout.
- People with a family history of arthritis often tend to inherit a genetic makeup which renders them susceptible to conditions like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis.
- People who carry extra weight are more prone to develop arthritis in the knee.
- Certain infection-causing pathogens can find their way into the joint and trigger inflammation.
- People with naturally high uric acid levels as well as those whose bodies can’t excrete the uric acid fast enough are particularly prone to gout. Gout is a form of arthritis wherein the excessive uric acid tends to crystallize in the joints and lead to inflammation.
- Injury or trauma to the joints such as a ligament tear can also give way to arthritis.
- Rheumatoid arthritis is an aggressive auto-immune disorder that causes such chronic inflammation; it can end up hampering the cartilage and the bone. It occurs when the body’s immune system starts targeting the healthy soft tissue in the joints called synovium which secretes a fluid responsible for lubricating the joints and keeping the cartilage healthy.
Symptoms of Arthritis
The different forms of arthritis present themselves with varying symptoms, which can range from mild to severe, recurring to constant, and may remain the same for years or deteriorate over time.
This calls for the need to get an accurate diagnosis from a doctor before you get down to treating the problem. The following symptoms are recognized as some of the key giveaways of arthritis:
- pain, tenderness and stiffness in one or more joints
- swelling in and around the affected joints
- redness of the skin over and around the affected joints which is warm to touch
- restricted movement of the joints
- weakening of the affected joints over time
- muscle wasting
When not to Consume Turmeric?
Turmeric can be used to bring relief in arthritis. But before we continue, we must caution that turmeric is not meant for everyone.
- Taking blood-thinning medication, as this may result in prolonged bleeding times.
- Prone to having gallstones or kidney stones.
- Pregnant or breastfeeding.
- Suffering from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
- Taking antidiabetic medication, due to turmeric’s potential to decrease blood glucose.
- Allergic to turmeric or suffer from digestive distress after consuming it.
- Have an iron deficiency.
- Suffering from infertility.
If you do not have any of the above conditions, read on to learn how to use turmeric for arthritis. If you have any concerns, discuss with your doctor first.
Natural Ways to Use Turmeric for Arthritis Relief
Consuming turmeric not only reduces the pain associated with arthritis, but it can also improve joint health. So how much turmeric does one need to consume to ease arthritis symptoms? And how do you consume it? Well, we have the answers.
There are three basic ways to use turmeric for arthritis – eat it, drink it or apply it topically.
Method 1: Turmeric Tea
Turmeric tea is a tasty way of getting rid of the pain and inflammation associated with arthritis (4). The recipe also uses ginger, another potent anti-inflammatory, primarily due to the presence of an active component called gingerol.
The two herbs form a powerful concoction for reducing the swelling and stiffness of arthritis.
A study demonstrated that ginger has a superior effect on osteoarthritis pain and disability than when taking a placebo, and apparently without serious adverse events. (5)
Another study published in Arthritis highlighted the potential therapeutic roles of various phytochemical constituents of ginger in improving rheumatoid arthritis symptoms and even possibly rheumatoid arthritis itself. (6)
Things you’ll need:
- Water – 1 cup
- Turmeric powder – 1 teaspoon
- Grated ginger (anti-inflammatory) – 1 teaspoon
- Honey – 1 teaspoon
Step 1. Brew a cup of turmeric tea
- Place a pan on the stove or hot plate.
- Pour 1 cup of water into the pan.
- Add 1 teaspoon each of turmeric and grated ginger.
- Bring it to a boil, then cover the pan with a lid and let it simmer for 5 minutes.
Step 2. Strain the tea and add honey
- Strain the tea into a cup.
- Add 1 teaspoon of honey. You can also use stevia in place of honey to sweeten the tea.
- Mix well and drink it.
Drink turmeric tea once or twice every day. You should notice improvement in the pain and stiffness in just 1 week. Continue drinking it at least for 1 month or even longer to keep arthritis symptoms under control.
Method 2: Turmeric Paste for Topical Application
If you find it increasingly hard to stomach raw turmeric, try applying it on your aching joints instead. Turmeric is readily absorbed through the skin and starts working on the problem areas almost immediately (7).
Turmeric can leave bright yellow stains on your skin and your clothes. While the stains can be removed with home remedies, it is better to be careful when handling it.
# With Coconut Oil
Things you’ll need:
- Turmeric powder – 1 tablespoon
- Coconut oil (anti-inflammatory)
Single-Step Treatment: Mix turmeric & coconut oil to apply on your painful joints
- Put 1 tablespoon of turmeric powder in a container.
- Add enough coconut oil to make a spreadable paste.
- Mix the two well.
- Apply a thick layer of the paste to fully cover the painful joints. You can also massage it gently for a few minutes, applying light pressure.
- Let the paste sit for 3 hours.
- Wash it off with warm water.
Apply the paste 2 or 3 times every day to get relief from arthritis pain in 1 or 2 weeks. Also, use it whenever the pain gets unbearable.
# With Water
Step 1. Cook turmeric and water in a pan
- Pour ½ cup of water into a heated pan.
- Add ¼ cup of turmeric powder to it.
- Cook the mixture over medium heat for 5 to 10 minutes, until it becomes a thick paste.
- Keep stirring continuously to prevent burning the turmeric.
Step 2. Store the turmeric paste and use daily
- Spoon the thick turmeric paste into an airtight jar. You can easily store it in the refrigerator for 1 month.
- Apply the paste over sore joints, letting it sit for 15 minutes before washing it off.
Repeat twice a day regularly to relieve pain and inflammation. You should notice a significant improvement within 1 week.
Method 3: Turmeric Supplements
Taking supplements is by far the most convenient way to use turmeric for arthritis and to get curcumin into your system for holistic healing. Take the recommended daily dosage based on the type of arthritis you are dealing with. (10)
Single-Step Treatment: Take turmeric supplements daily
- For treating osteoarthritis, take 400 mg to 600 mg of a turmeric supplement 3 times a day.
- For treating rheumatoid arthritis, take 500 mg twice every day.
Continue taking it for 4 to 6 weeks for positive results.
Consult your doctor before starting any kind of supplement, especially if you have any other medical condition.
Tips to keep in mind
- Increase your intake of magnesium to improve bone health.
- Do moderate exercises regularly to maintain joint mobility.
- Maintain optimum weight to prevent extra stress on the joints.
- Minimize stress, as it can exacerbate rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.
- Get enough sleep to allow your body enough time to repair and regenerate.
- Check with your doctor about alternating heat and cold therapy to relieve arthritis pain.
- Eat more broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cabbage. These vegetables slow down cartilage damage.
- Turmeric for Arthritis. Arthritis Foundation. https://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/treatments/natural/supplements-herbs/guide/turmeric.php.
- Daily JW, Yang M, Park S. Efficacy of Turmeric Extracts and Curcumin for Alleviating the Symptoms of Joint Arthritis: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Clinical Trials. Journal of Medicinal Food. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5003001/. Published August 1, 2016.
- Perkins K, Sahy W, Beckett RD. Efficacy of Curcuma for Treatment of Osteoarthritis. Journal of Evidence-Based Integrative Medicine. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/2156587216636747. Published March 14, 2016.
- Funk JL, Oyarzo JN, Frye JB. Turmeric Extracts Containing Curcuminoids Prevent Experimental Rheumatoid Arthritis#. Journal of Natural Products. https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/np050327j. Published 2006.
- Bartels EM, Folmer VN, Bliddal H. Efficacy and safety of ginger in osteoarthritis patients: a meta-analysis of randomized placebo-controlled trials. Osteoarthritis and Cartilage. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S106345841401276X. Published October 7, 2014.
- Nahain AA-, Jahan R, Rahmatullah M. Zingiber officinale: A Potential Plant against Rheumatoid Arthritis. Arthritis. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4058601/. Published May 27, 2014.
- Zhang Z, Leong DJ, Xu L. Curcumin slows osteoarthritis progression and relieves osteoarthritis-associated pain symptoms in a post-traumatic osteoarthritis mouse model. Arthritis Research & Therapy. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4891896/. Published January 3, 2016.
- Vysakh A, Ratheesh M, Pramod C. Polyphenolics isolated from virgin coconut oil inhibits adjuvant-induced arthritis in rats through antioxidant and anti-inflammatory action. International Immunopharmacology. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1567576914000800. Published May 6, 2014.
- Lin T- K, Zhong L, Santiago JL. Anti-Inflammatory and Skin Barrier Repair Effects of Topical Application of Some Plant Oils. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5796020/. Published December 27, 2017.
- Funk JL, Frye JB, Oyarzo JN, et al. Efficacy and mechanism of action of turmeric supplements in the treatment of experimental arthritis. Arthritis & Rheumatism. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/art.22180. Published October 30, 2006.