The Grapevine

Curcumin For Arthritis: Does It Work?

Osteoarthritis is known as the most common form of arthritis, affecting more than 30 million adults in the U.S. There is no cure for this condition but researchers believe they have found a new potential treatment that could reduce its effects. 

A new study shows that curcumin, a naturally occurring substance in the spice turmeric, could help improve the conditions of people with knee osteoarthritis. Researchers analyzed the effects of curcumin in 139 people. 

The participants reported moderately severe symptoms of osteoarthritis and took treatments with a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). Researchers divided the patients into groups that took either diclofenac or curcumin every day for a month.

Result showed that both treatments provided health benefits. Researchers said 94 percent of the group that received curcumin and 97 percent of those under diclofenac reported up to 50 percent improvement in their arthritis symptoms.

However, curcumin causes less side effects. Some people who took diclofenac required treatment for stomach problems after the study, while none of the participants taking curcumin experienced similar unwanted effects. 

But before you decide to add more turmeric or seek curcumin supplements, it is important to know that the study has limitations, according to Robert Shmerling, associate physician and clinical chief of rheumatology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. Researchers observed a small group of people for only a month. 

More studies are required to further understand how curcumin works to reduce the symptoms of osteoarthritis. Future studies should also focus on the potential side effects of the substance after long-term intake. 

“We don’t know how well curcumin would work, or if it would be safe, for the types of people excluded from this study,” Shmerling said in an article posted on Harvard Health Publishing. “For example, this study enrolled adults ages 38 to 65 and excluded those with significant kidney or stomach disease. For younger or older people, those with other medical problems, or those taking multiple medications, the results might have been different.”

To date, doctors treat osteoarthritis symptoms using a combination of therapies. The options include over-the-counter pain relievers and prescription drugs, muscle strengthening exercises and weight loss.

However, not all available treatments always work on patients. A joint replacement surgery is the last option for osteoarthritis patients.

turmeric A new study shows that curcumin, a substance found in the spice turmeric, could help improve the conditions of people with knee osteoarthritis. Pixabay

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