Seunga (Jasmine) Han, PharmD Student
Osteoarthritis (OA) is one of the most common musculoskeletal disorders worldwide. It can affect any joint of the body, but most commonly targets the spine, hands, hips, or knees. OA can be divided into two categories:
- Primary OA is when one experiences OA without any specific cause, which is commonly seen in the elderly.
- Secondary OA, on the other hand, is often the result of some injury to the joint such as trauma, infection or other causes including rheumatoid arthritis, gout, congenital joint abnormalities and hematologic genetic disorders (leukemia).
Though it may seem more benign than other medical conditions, osteoarthritis often has a significant impact on the quality of life of an individual. Many individuals with OA suffer from pain, stiffness, discomfort, and functional impairment due to inflammatory changes to the joint and its surrounding structures.
While there are pain medications like Advil® and Tylenol®, some individuals prefer more natural options such as turmeric. In the current market, many manufacturers and individuals claim that turmeric has helped with their osteoarthritis, but does it really work? We’ll take a look into the evidence behind this today.
What is Turmeric?
Turmeric is actually a spice made from the root of the turmeric plant commonly used in Asian cuisine. Some of us may know turmeric as a bright yellow powdery spice, but in reality, curcumin is the primary component of turmeric that provides that signature colour.2
Does it Work?
Based on the available studies on the use of turmeric, researches show that turmeric extracts can improve the symptoms of osteoarthritis. In one study, taking 500mg of the extract twice a day helped to improve pain and functionality after 2-3 months of treatment. Additionally, by relieving symptoms, turmeric has the benefit of reducing the need to use over the counter medications and NSAIDs. Alternatively, taking 500mg 3-4 times a day for 4-6 weeks has shown to be comparable to using ibuprofen 400mg 2-3 times a week.2
Is it Safe?
If swallowed orally, or applied topically on the skin, turmeric appears to be safe for up to 8 months of continuous use, with doses up to 2200mg daily. If used at higher doses of up to 4g daily, using turmeric appears to be safe for up to 30 days. Turmeric appears to be safe in pregnant and lactating women when taken in the amounts found in food as well as in supplements. Although, pregnant women should still be cautious as turmeric may cause menstrual flow and stimulate the uterus – as always, consult your healthcare provider before starting anything.2
If you’ve ever wanted to avoid taking medications and try an alternative method that’s more natural, you could give turmeric a try. Otherwise, always remember that you can reach out to your healthcare provider for further support to better manage your condition. As always, we hope you took away something valuable from this piece. If you have any questions or concerns regarding this article or others, feel free to reach out to us on Instagram, Facebook, or at email@example.com with your feedback. We’d love to hear from you.
- Kean, W., Kean, C., & Hogan, M. (2018). Osteoarthritis. RxTx. Retrieved August 27, 2018, from https://www-e-therapeutics-ca
- n.d. (2018). Turmeric. Natural Medicines. Retrieved August 27, 2018, from https://naturalmedicines-therapeuticresearch-com