Turmeric Benefits for Joint Pain

Introduction

The incidence of Joint pain prevalence is increasing day by day. One of the leading cause of joint pain is arthritis. However, gout, low back pain and in rare cases bone cancer can also cause joint pain.  According to ‘International Association for the Study of Pain’, 10 to 15 percent of world populations are suffering from osteoarthritis and  67 million of Americans may diagnose with arthritis by 2030. [1] Pharmaceutical development already invented synthetic analgesic and anti-inflammatory medications to treat joint pain. But long-term use of these medications has several side effects, including gastric irritation, drug resistance, immunity problem and cardiac diseases. [2] Therefore, it is high time to search a natural remedy for treating joint pain efficiently.

Our ancestors skillfully introduced turmeric in folk medicine, as they practically experienced analgesic and anti-inflammatory property of this golden spice. With the advancement of research, several human studies also reported turmeric has the potentiality to treat joint pain.

Why Joint pain Occurs?

Joint pain related problems including osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis have the almost similar type of symptoms, including pain, swelling, tenderness, and stiffness. However, the intensity of the symptoms varies from person to person. The joint related problem, especially, osteoarthritis occurs due to activation of NF-κB. IL-1 (Interleukin 1) and TNFα (tumor necrosis factor α). These are pro-inflammatory cytokines which activate NF-κB. However, overstressed condition and the degradation of the extracellular matrix also cause joint pain, inflammation, and arthritis. All these pathophysiology damage the cartilage present in the joint. The outcome of this leads to lack of lubrication and padding between the joint, increase friction during movement of the joint, bones are wearing out near the joint and ultimately pain during movement and gradually restricted movement.[1]

Role of Turmeric to reduce Joint pain

Turmeric is a rhizome of Curcuma longa, which belongs to Zingiberaceae family. It contains several bioactive phytochemicals; among them, curcumin is a chief component and other bioactive components are bis-demethoxycurcumin, demethoxycurcumin, and turmeric essential oils. Turmeric and its primary active constituent curcumin made supplements are available in the market to treat mild to moderate joint pain symptoms.

Anti-inflammatory property of turmeric and its derivatives has been well established through different research studies. The following are the physical changes occur by using the turmeric supplementation, which is beneficial for joint pain symptoms:

  • Turmeric able to alter NF-κB signaling by reducing the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines.
  • Turmeric decreases the pain and inflammation symptoms by modulating some enzyme activities, including cyclooxygenase (COX) -2, phospholipase A2 and 5-lipoxygenase and thus retard prostaglandin synthesis.
  • Turmeric is a potent antioxidant.
  • The curcumin the active constituents of turmeric assist to manipulate STAT (signal transducer and activator of transcription) protein activation and prevent angiogenesis, thus it acts against tumor progression.
  • Activator protein-1 (AP-1) is activated by various inflammatory mediators. Curcumin also AP-1 transcription factors and control inflammation. [1]

Study Evidences

  • In 2006, one research study claimed turmeric/curcumin has a preventive action against joint inflammation.
  • In 2010, a clinical trial report showed turmeric supplementation provides long-term pain reduction and improve joint functionality in 100 patients suffering from osteoarthritis.
  • A pilot study performs in 2012 showed a curcumin-containing product provides a better result in comparison with diclofenac (NSAIDS) in term of reduction of pain and inflammation of the joint in Rheumatoid arthritis affected patients. [3]

Dose of Turmeric

A detail systematic research article recommended 1000 mg/day of pure turmeric extract (or curcumin) for 8–12 weeks able to provide an improvement of joint pain and inflammation-related symptoms. The beneficial effect of turmeric within the effective dose and duration is comparable with analgesic and anti-inflammatory effect of ibuprofen and diclofenac sodium.

Some studies claim that the bioavailability of curcumin is poor, but the metabolites of curcumin, which is sufficiently present in the blood after consumption of turmeric also have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant property and effective to reduce the symptoms of osteoarthritis. [1]

Safety profile of Turmeric

Different trials conducted on human showed that turmeric and curcumin with less than 2000mg/day are effective to treat osteoarthritis without providing significant side effect.  Systematic review reports showed that turmeric is well tolerated in the human body and long-term use of this herbal therapy does not cause any side effect within the dose range of 2000mg/dose. Korea Food and Drug Safety administration granted turmeric roots as “generally regarded as safe.” However, some study evidence showed that high dose of curcumin (almost 8 to 10 gm) may cause some side effects like mild nausea or diarrhea in some individuals. [1]

References

  1. http://efic.org/moxiemanager/data/files/11.%20Joint%20Pain%20Epidemiology.pdf
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5003001/
  3. http://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/treatments/natural/supplements-herbs/guide/turmeric.php
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