Discover how to use turmeric against joint pain.
From its scientific name Curcuma longa, also called Indian saffron or long-life spice, powdered turmeric is a spice derived from the rhizome of a large perennial herb of the Zingiberaceae family, which is used in the composition of curry.
It has multiple health benefits, and we talk about it a lot for its anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects, especially on the joints.
Let’s take a look at how turmeric works for joint pain and chronic inflammation, and how to use it to soothe joint pain.
Joint pain is pain felt because of an ailment affecting one of the components of the joint:
• cartilage: the sliding connective tissue on the surface of the joints
• the bone under the cartilage
• the joint capsule: made up of two layers, a fibrous capsule on the outside and a synovial membrane that secretes the synovial fluid inside contained in the bursa, it is the membrane that surrounds the joint
• ligaments that connect muscles to bones.
As a rule, joint pain is felt during movement with the contribution of the joint, even during passive movements, that is to say without muscle contraction.
There are several types of joint pain. Simple joint pain with no other symptoms is called “arthralgia”.
If the pain is accompanied by swelling of the joint, which is called an enlarged synovial membrane, then it is called arthritis.
Joint swelling is caused by inflammation of the synovium, which is referred to as synovitis, or by an effusion of fluid or blood in the joint, then respectively referred to as synovial effusion and hemarthrosis.
There is a case where the inflammation is due to infection of the joint with bacteria, this is called septic arthritis.
The type of arthritis varies depending on the number of joints affected:
• 1 single joint, it is a mono-arthralgia or mono-arthritis
• 2 to 4 joints, it is an oligo-arthralgia or oligo-arthritis
• more than 4 joints, it is a polyarthralgia or polyarthritis
Joint pain is caused by an alteration in the joint structure, itself caused by:
• joint trauma
• joint infection
The most common cause is inflammation, which can be caused by:
• inflammatory rheumatism
• an autoimmune disease
• an intra-articular deposit of microcrystals
• a bone infarction (osteonecrosis)
Osteoarthritis is the most common case and the most frequent cause of joint pain in people over the age of 50, caused by multiple probable causes. For information, aging is only a contributing factor, because osteoarthritis is a wear and tear of the cartilage, but not a triggering factor.
It is important to find the cause of the pain to implement appropriate treatment, and only a doctor or a rheumatologist can make a diagnosis.
Treatments for joint pain are based on a combination of painkillers to support the attacks, with a basic treatment, which helps reduce inflammation.
The most recommended painkiller is paracetamol or acetaminophen (up to 4 g / day). The doctor may also prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs such as Advil.
To fight against severe pain, there are creams or gels based on non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), applied directly to the skin on the painful area.
Among the basic treatments, we find glucosamine sulfate, chondroitin sulfate, diacerein, etc.
Curcumin: a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant
Turmeric, thanks to its richness in nutrients and active ingredients, is a spice with multiple health benefits, but the properties of turmeric are largely due to compounds called “curcuminoids”, which is 90% curcumin.
Curcumin is a powerful antioxidant that has very effective anti-inflammatory properties, and it is this action that will interest us in the context of painful joints and rheumatic conditions.
Indeed, the consumption of turmeric will reduce inflammation and therefore the pain and discomfort it causes.
The rhizome is also a central natural remedy in Ayurvedic medicine, traditional Indian medicine, and traditional Chinese medicine, against joint problems.
Turmeric is effective against inflammation of the entire joint (arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and all inflammatory rheumatism), against inflammation of the tendons (tendonitis), and the bursa (bursitis).
Studies have shown that turmeric is a great alternative to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and painkillers, sometimes even more effective.
Curcumin penetrates throughout the body, even into the brain environment, protected by the blood-brain barrier which allows very little to pass. It is, therefore, a systemic anti-inflammatory, that is, it acts throughout the system to calm inflammation.
Turmeric will therefore be used to relieve joint pain associated with inflammation, it will be ineffective in other cases.
The high antioxidant content of turmeric helps protect the body against the effects of oxidative stress, and premature aging, and thus against all the ailments associated with aging, which makes turmeric a beneficial spice for cancer, and therefore also some joint pain. Turmeric longa is therefore a spice to be taken regularly for prevention.
Turmeric would show soothing virtues, which would act directly on the joints by reducing joint discomfort while facilitating the flexibility of the cogs of mobility. Once again, it is advisable to consume it regularly as a preventive measure to preserve the articular cartilage.
Turmeric is used in different forms depending on what you want to do with it, we have detailed all the uses of turmeric where the different ways of using the rhizome are explained so that you choose your favorite, consult it for more details, but to summarize:
You must combine turmeric with black pepper
The downside of turmeric is its low bioavailability, which means that if you want to heal yourself with it, you have to consume large amounts of it!
By combining turmeric longa with black pepper, curcumin is better assimilated by the body. Piperine interacts with curcumin, and the properties of turmeric are increased, some say by 1000.
Without this, our intestine badly assimilates the molecules of curcumin, too large and too easily filtered by our metabolism.
In terms of combination, I generally recommend a ratio of 1 to 9: 1 dose of pepper to 9 doses of turmeric.
This way of doing things is ideal as a preventive take, before you feel anything, it will take care of your joints and prevent possible problems. In addition, the spice is delicious and will color the dishes.
Add 2 to 3 g of turmeric powder per day and person in your culinary preparations. This corresponds to one teaspoon per person. This amount corresponds to around 200 mg of curcuminoids, depending on the quality of turmeric purchased.
To relieve inflammation, it is considered necessary to take the equivalent of 200 mg to 400 mg of curcuminoids, 3 times a day, which corresponds to 3 times the stated intake.
Herbal teas can be taken preventively, but this is the best way to take turmeric in a curative way.
Infuse 1 to 2 g of turmeric powder with 3 or 4 black peppercorns in 150 ml of boiling water for 10 to 15 minutes. Drink 2 cups a day.
You can also boil a turmeric root for 3 minutes, then let the decoction infuse for 10 minutes. Drink 2 or 3 cups a day.
In infusion, it is interesting to make an infusion of turmeric and lemon, the yellow spice and the citrus fruit being two complementary ingredients that act in synergy.
To relieve inflammation, it is considered that you should take the equivalent of 200 mg to 400 mg of curcuminoids, 3 times a day, which corresponds to at least 3 g of turmeric, 3 times a day.
It is an alternative way to consume turmeric, by varying the ways of doing it, you will never tire of the spice.
A good way to enjoy the benefits of turmeric is to drink golden milk, this Ayurvedic drink with coconut milk, coconut oil, turmeric, and pepper, is a concentrate of benefits.
This drink allows better bioavailability of turmeric because the spice is associated with pepper and a fatty substance.
It is a preventative and curative way of taking turmeric for joint pain. It is possible to add a little powdered ginger to it to increase the anti-inflammatory action.
A natural remedy used in Asia since the dawn of time, the honey and turmeric mixture, of its name the golden honey, is the association of two very powerful natural remedies, which begins to arrive in the West thanks to the development of alternative medicine.
It is a real panacea, we use it in prevention by eating a teaspoon every morning on an empty stomach, or in a curative way, as explained in our article dedicated to this spicy honey.
What about food supplements?
It is possible to find a whole range of products standardized in curcuminoids, they are generally capsules or tablets, which guarantee up to 95% curcumin. These products have their advantages and disadvantages.
The main benefits of turmeric as a dietary supplement are:
• we avoid the characteristic taste of turmeric if we don’t like it
• they are convenient to consume
• they are highly concentrated in curcumin
The main disadvantages of turmeric as a dietary supplement are:
• the price! Compared to turmeric powder, supplements are much more expensive
• the other ingredients used in the product: the capsules are made of gelatin, the weight of which can represent 20 to 25% of the total weight of the product, the tablets are made with the use of a binder, sometimes of poor quality according to the manufacturers, etc.
• additives: most of these compliments contain additives
• the concentration of curcumin! These products should be used with caution, curcumin is not safe, and turmeric is contraindicated in some people.
In addition, these drugs are often overpriced and usually contain other ingredients like bulking agents, anti-caking agents, coating agents, etc.
Like any product, turmeric has its share of contraindications and side effects, we have listed them in our article on the harmful effects of turmeric.
This product, which is so good for your health, can go so far as to become a danger if taken by the wrong person and no matter how.
There is no such thing as an overdose of turmeric, even in high doses, it is not toxic. However, although there are no categorical studies on this subject, caution should be taken in the following cases:
Turmeric may interact with certain medications. It could increase the effect of blood thinners, diabetes medication, or antacid treatments.
Turmeric should be consumed with caution in the event of gallbladder disorders. Although it helps regulate bile production, in case of obstruction of the bile ducts (stones for example), taking turmeric could worsen the problem.
It is often not recommended, always as a precautionary principle, to consume too much turmeric for pregnant and breastfeeding women, as well as for children under 12 years old.