- Natural therapies for psoriatic disease
- Differences in patient experiences
- Talk to your doctor about potential risks
- Natural supplements that show promise
- Can Turmeric Help Treat Psoriatic Arthritis?
- Why Does Turmeric Ease the Pain of Psoriatic Arthritis?
- Turmeric Can Work as a Salve or Capsule
- What About Adding Turmeric to Your Food?
- Are Turmeric Supplements Safe?
- Oral curcumin shown effective in psoriasis
- Five Best Spices for Arthritis
- Salt & Pepper: Nature’s Power Team
- 9 Healing Herbs For Greater Health
- 14 Healing Spices For Greater Health
- Turmeric and Curcumin for Arthritis: Does It Actually Help Relieve Pain?
- So, Can Turmeric Help Treat Arthritis?
- How Curcumin Actually Fights Inflammation in Arthritis
- Turmeric Spice vs. Supplement: What’s Better?
- Keep Reading
Natural therapies for psoriatic disease
It’s a different story for Todd Bello, of Stony Brook, New York. Bello has had psoriasis since he was 28 and psoriatic arthritis since he was 35. Now 52, he has tried a multitude of vitamins and supplements to treat his psoriatic conditions over the years, but none has done the trick for him.
So can natural therapies really help psoriatic disease? The answer on the patient side is reflected in the experiences of Bello and Cerrone — some say yes, some say no.
Doctors, too, have mixed opinions about their use and whether they can help provide relief from some symptoms. Dr. Nancy J. Anderson, director of the Psoriasis and Phototherapy Unit and a professor of dermatology at Loma Linda University Medical Center in Loma Linda, California, believes that natural therapies, or complementary and alternative medicines, can have a place in the treatment of psoriatic disease in some patients.
“Some people respond wonderfully, but every individual I treat with psoriasis is unique and responds differently,” she said, adding that evidence that vitamins and supplements such as fish oil and curcumin can help reduce inflammation — and thus symptoms — is largely anecdotal.
“We, as physicians, like to see more scientific evidence,” she said.
Dr. Mark Lebwohl, chairman of the department of dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, finds the lack of scientific evidence proving the effectiveness of vitamins, minerals and herbs for psoriatic disease disconcerting.
He answers the question about the effectiveness of natural therapies with another. “Where’s the scientific evidence?”
Lebwohl also has concerns that some natural therapies could be harmful to patients.
“Years ago, Chinese herbs were promoted for psoriasis,” he said. “It turned out they contained steroids which, in the long run, are harmful.”
Differences in patient experiences
Much of the evidence supporting natural therapies is anecdotal, and patient experience varies widely.
Cerrone has no doubt that her joints are looser and less painful as a result of her daily mega doses of fish oil. (She takes mega doses because of a blood-clotting disorder.)
Fish oil contains two omega-3 fatty acids — eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) — that may or may not have a blood-thinning effect, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH).
Fish oil has been shown to reduce inflammation and joint stiffness, according to The Arthritis Foundation. The best source is fatty fish, such as salmon, but it’s hard to get enough in your diet to be effective, Anderson said.
Cerrone also has found probiotics (live microorganisms that are intended to have health benefits) have helped her tremendously. She said consuming certain foods and probiotic supplements helps her stomach issues and gets her immune system working the way it should. She’s not surprised it’s working for her “because 70 to 80 percent of your body’s immune cells live in your gut,” she said, citing research from the National Center for Biotechnology Information.
Caroline Carroll, 58, of Los Angeles, was diagnosed with psoriasis 25 years ago and with psoriatic arthritis a year ago, and has tried food-based supplementation for a number of years. She drinks a green smoothie made of dark leafy greens, fresh turmeric, fresh ginger, cinnamon, fermented flax/chia seeds, fresh aloe vera and kefir every day. She also consumes a clove of raw garlic with a meal daily and believes her supplement routine complements her medications.
“My theory is my anti-inflammatory diet and supplements give the medications I take a kick-start,” she said.
Bello, however, hasn’t been as successful with his attempts at natural therapies. For a while, he thought all the vitamins and supplements he took when he was off medication were helping clear his skin and relieve his joint pain.
“I was so hopeful,” he said. “I spent a lot of money on these products.”
His regimen included vitamin D, ginseng, ginger, flax seed (a source of omega 3 fatty acids) and probiotics. But after more than a year, he realized his natural regimen wasn’t working and that he needed to see his doctor for medication. “I gave it the old college try, but I can’t say that supplements are a remedy for psoriasis,” he said.
Today, he is doing well on a biologic.
Talk to your doctor about potential risks
Always talk to your doctor before beginning a natural therapy regimen. If you’re already using a natural remedy and your doctor doesn’t know, tell him or her immediately, as supplements can interfere with some medications. Fish oil, for example, is a blood thinner and can pose a danger for those who are taking blood thinners such as Coumadin (warfarin), according to the NCCIH.
Anderson said she has seen patients develop a rash as a result of using creams containing aloe vera. Because many supplements are sold over the counter, patients often don’t realize they are medications and that they need to keep their medical team informed, she said. Women who are pregnant or nursing need to be especially careful.
The quality of the natural supplements also can be an issue. Under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulates dietary supplements under a different set of regulations than those covering “conventional” foods and drug products.
Cerrone does her research to make sure the supplements she buys are of the highest quality and contain only the ingredients they say they do on their labels, she said, adding that she avoids those with gluten and chooses only supplements free of genetically modified organisms.
Anderson cautions that if a supplement isn’t bringing the results you expect, it could just take time.
“My experience is that it can take months to see improvement with herbs and other supplements,” she said.
And after several months, if you still aren’t experiencing change, don’t take a higher dosage than recommended in the hope that it will increase effectiveness. Higher dosages could result in overdose, “and you don’t know what side effects could occur,” Anderson said.
The bottom line is that, for some people, natural remedies may be worth exploring.
“But talk to your doctor before adding any natural supplements to your routine,” Anderson stressed. “Your doctor’s advice should be first and foremost.”
Natural supplements that show promise
Limited studies show support for some natural therapies for psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. Among them:
- Fish oil: Fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids, which the body converts into anti-inflammatory chemicals. A study of 30 patients by researchers in Spain published in Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology in 2011 found that the group given two fish oil capsules daily for eight weeks showed clear improvement in their plaque psoriasis.
- Curcumin: Psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis are both linked to systemic inflammation, and curcumin, the active ingredient in the Indian spice turmeric, has been shown to have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body. A study published in the January-February 2013 issue of the journal BioFactors found that curcumin works in several ways to help improve a number of inflammatory diseases.
- Probiotics: A study published in January 2015 in Arthritis & Rheumatology found that people diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis had less abundant bacteria in their gut. Common products such as yogurt and some milks contain probiotics, and probiotics also are available as supplements. Scientists are still studying whether probiotics could one day become part of a psoriasis treatment. In the meantime, patients interested in probiotics should discuss the topic with their doctor. You can also read about the National Center for Biotechnology Information’s research on probiotics.
- Vitamin D: This is used in many effective topical treatments for psoriasis, and while we don’t know that dietary supplements of vitamin D and sunlight have the same effect, healthy levels of vitamin D are generally considered by medical doctors to be important for overall health and skin health.
The National Psoriasis Foundation does not endorse or recommend any products, medications, therapies or diets for the treatment of psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis.
Can Turmeric Help Treat Psoriatic Arthritis?
If you have psoriatic arthritis (PsA) and are considering adding a natural dietary supplement to your treatment regimen, you may want to consider turmeric, a golden-yellow powder that’s ground from the root of the turmeric plant.
Practitioners of Chinese and Indian Ayurvedic medicine have used turmeric to treat arthritis for thousands of years — and now more and more research is emerging that finds turmeric can help allay pain caused by all kinds of arthritis.
Why Does Turmeric Ease the Pain of Psoriatic Arthritis?
Turmeric may help with PsA because of the powerful anti-inflammatory effects of its main active ingredient, curcumin. “Joint inflammation can be a painful symptom associated with psoriatic arthritis,” says Nicole Avena, PhD, an assistant professor of neuroscience at the Ichan School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City and visiting professor of health psychology at Princeton University in New Jersey. “Turmeric may block NF-kB, a molecule in our bodies that travels into the nuclei of cells to activate genes that increase inflammation.”
Emily Tills, RDN, who works with patients in Syracuse, New York, adds, “Turmeric contains antioxidants, which are derivatives of vitamins and minerals. They can aid in fighting off free radicals in the body that can cause disease, pain, and deterioration of joints and bones.”
Dr. Avena also points to a potential side benefit of turmeric: “It may help improve memory by boosting BDNF levels.”
RELATED: 5 Anti-Inflammatory Spices for Psoriatic Arthritis
Turmeric Can Work as a Salve or Capsule
Turmeric comes in many forms, including capsules. “But you can also make a salve and apply it topically to the area that’s bothering you,” Avena says. “Mix turmeric with ingredients like warm water, warm milk, or sesame oil to create a paste that can help reduce inflammation and swelling.”
What About Adding Turmeric to Your Food?
Avena recommends adding turmeric directly to your favorite dishes. Or try making a tonic by blending turmeric with complementary ingredients such as cinnamon, clove, and ginger.
Are Turmeric Supplements Safe?
It’s important to understand natural therapies before you put a new herb or supplement into your body. Although some can relieve pain and otherwise enhance your health, others may be harmful.
While turmeric supplements seem safe in general, keep in mind that federal law does not require that dietary supplements be tested for safety and effectiveness, and supplements are not standardized by the Food and Drug Administration to ensure consistency between batches.
In fact, according to research published in January 2018 in theInternational Journal of Inflammation, this lack of standardization may cause clinical trials involving curcumin and turmeric to yield unreliable data.
Avena recommends taking turmeric supplements only in consultation with a doctor. Women who are pregnant or nursing should avoid these supplements, as no research studies have been done to determine safety in these cases.
Oral curcumin shown effective in psoriasis
AMSTERDAM – Oral curcumin proved safe and effective as adjunctive therapy in patients on topical corticosteroids for mild to moderate psoriasis vulgaris in a 12-week, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial.
This agent helps fill an unmet need in psoriasis, Dr. Emiliano Antiga observed in presenting the study findings at the annual congress of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology.
Dr. Emiliano Antiga
That’s because by far most of the action in the development of new treatments for psoriasis focuses on biologics and other extremely costly agents targeting patients at the moderate to severe end of the disease spectrum. But psoriasis is a chronic condition, and the many patients with milder disease require long-term therapies that are nontoxic and won’t break the bank. Enter curcumin.
“Oral curcumin is effective, safe, and it is cheap,” declared Dr. Antiga, a dermatologist at the University of Florence (Italy).
Moreover, it has a biologically plausible mechanism of benefit in psoriasis, as was demonstrated in his 60-patient randomized trial. Serum levels of the proinflammatory cytokine interleukin-22 were cut in half in the group assigned to 12 weeks of daily oral curcumin while remaining unchanged in the control group.
Curcumin is derived from turmeric, the dried rhizome of a plant, Curcuma longa. Turmeric is a yellowish Indian spice used in curries. But curcumin has long been used therapeutically in traditional Indian and Chinese medicine. Studies have shown that curcumin has antiproliferative, antiangiogenic, and anti-inflammatory effects. In a small study by other investigators, topical turmeric not only successfully cleared psoriasis lesions, it also suppressed phosphorylase kinase activity, which is important to keratinocyte proliferation (Br. J. Dermatol. 2000;143:937-49).
Dr. Antiga presented a study of 60 patients with mild to moderate psoriasis vulgaris as defined by a baseline median Psoriasis Area and Severity Index (PASI) score of 5.5 who were randomly assigned to 12 weeks of treatment with topical corticosteroids plus 3 g per day of oral curcumin or topical steroids plus placebo. The active-treatment capsules contained curcumin embedded in nanoparticle liposomes to enhance bioavailability.
Forty-nine patients completed the study. The primary endpoint was reduction in PASI values over 12 weeks. Both groups showed improvement – after all, the controls were on active treatment with topical steroids – but the change in PASI scores was significantly greater in the curcumin-treated patients.
Adverse events in the curcumin group were limited to one case of diarrhea. There was one case of nausea and one papular eruption in the control group.
Although IL-22 levels at 12 weeks were halved in the curcumin group and unchanged in controls, levels of the inflammatory cytokines IL-10 and -17 and transforming growth factor–beta remained unchanged in both groups over time.
Dr. Antiga reported having no financial conflicts regarding this study.
Five Best Spices for Arthritis
Oct 16, 2019
Certain foods have been identified as anti-inflammatories and can help reduce chronic pain for arthritis sufferers. One easy way to incorporate these into your diet is through spices. And although a dash of cinnamon on your toast won’t be super helpful, many of these spices can pack a punch when you consume them throughout the day. Luckily, autumn is here and it’s the perfect time to experiment with all these great flavors. Here are some spices to consider using in your kitchen this fall.
Turmeric is a vivid yellow spice often found in Indian cuisine, and is available in any grocery store. Turmeric has been used as a medicine for centuries to treat wounds, infections and colds. Research has shown that curcumin, a compound in turmeric, can reduce inflammation in the body.
Garlic is a tasty addition to just about any dish. Not only does it add a ton of flavor, but it’s good for you as well! Studies show that “the health effects of dietary garlic have been utilized throughout the centuries to offer protection against infections, heart disease, and cancer.” Garlic also contains diallyl disulfide, an anti-inflammatory compound that limits the effects of pro-inflammatory cytokines. Therefore, garlic can help fight the pain, inflammation, and cartilage damage due to arthritis. Be sure to go for fresh garlic from the produce section of your market because preservatives and processing can reduce its strength.
You can buy ginger in powdered form or as a fresh root in most supermarkets. Ginger has been used as a traditional medicine to treat an upset stomach and headaches. The anti-inflammatory properties of ginger have been touted for centuries, and scientific studies have confirmed it.
Chili peppers contain natural compounds called capsaicinoids, which have anti-inflammatory properties. Cayenne and other dried chilies spice up sauces, marinades and rubs. Chilies can be hot, so go easy in the beginning. Not only can cayenne pepper help with arthritis swelling, it will give your dish a delicious kick.
Cinnamon is more than just a tasty ingredient in our cakes and cookies. Cinnamon contains cinnamaldehyde and cinnamic acid, both of which have antioxidant properties that help obstruct cell damage. Cinnamon is a scrumptious addition to oatmeal or smoothies, but it’s not really strong enough on its own. However, used in combination with other foods and spices, it may offer a cumulative, therapeutic effect over the course of the day.
Remember that when it comes to trying a new spice, start small and add more after you’ve taste-tested your dish. And in cooking, a good rule of thumb is fresh is best. There’s a wide variety of foods you can spice up: rubs, and marinades, sprinkled on steamed vegetables, mixed into pasta, or added to soups and stews. Season up your dishes this fall, and be sure to let us know all about your favorite anti-inflammatory spices on our Facebook page.
I’ve always believed that good health is a product of three things: loving yourself, focusing on the right thoughts, and focusing on the right food. For all the years that I have taught, spoken, and written about positive affirmations and loving yourself, I’ve also been studying and applying nutritional practices focusing on anti inflammatory foods and herbs and spices that support my health, energy, and vitality. When people ask me why my skin is so vibrant or how I can still travel, teach, and enjoy life to the fullest, I tell them that it has to do with the right thoughts AND the right food.
It is time to get back to the Earth, and nourish our bodies with what nature provides. Here is a list of common herbs and spices that you can add to your meals, many of which are flavor and anti-inflammatory super-stars in bone broth finishers, elixirs, and drink recipes in my new book, The Bone Broth Secret, which I wrote with my good friend, Heather Dane.
Salt & Pepper: Nature’s Power Team
Sea salt and black pepper or white pepper work with any healing herbs and spices. They tend to show up in just about every recipe, and for good reason!
Benefits of Sea Salt or Pink Himalayan Salt
These types of salt add flavor and enhance the flavors of the ingredients in a recipe (a little goes a long way). These natural salts add important trace minerals. If you study minerals, you’ll find that they’re the body’s spark plugs, giving us energy. Yet they also keep us anchored and rooted, helping us stay grounded and calm. This is helpful when making food with the sweet taste because it keeps the body in balance.
Benefits of Black Pepper
This was considered the “king of spices” in the Middle Ages, and that’s an appropriate title: Indian black pepper in particular is rich in nutrients that aid your digestion. All black pepper in fact aids digestion, helps prevent or treat constipation, has heart — and blood pressure — regulating properties, and aids memory and thyroid health. Black pepper is also a key partner with turmeric, which is a superfood that must be paired with black pepper in order for our bodies to access the healing properties of turmeric.
9 Healing Herbs For Greater Health
You can pretty much combine any of these herbs and you’ll get a great taste. Remember, if you’re just starting out using herbs and spices, start with a small amount (like 1 ⁄ 8 tsp.) and sample your dish after each addition.
Here are some common anti inflammatory herbs and their health benefits:
Benefits of Basil
— Basil is an herb that has been shown to have beneficial properties for type 2 diabetes, cholesterol, pain, stress, ulcers, and high triglycerides.
Benefits of Bay Leaf
— Bay leaf is great for joint pain, indigestion, ulcers, and arthritis; treating cancer; regulating cholesterol and triglycerides, as well as blood sugar; and can even repel mosquitoes for up to two hours.
Benefits of Dill
— Dill provides great flavor for fish, vegetable dishes, and dressings. It can support healthy digestion, aid in bone density, and create a calm energy.
Benefits of Lemongrass
— Lemongrass offers a hint of sour flavor to balance out a dish; we use it in pâtés, desserts, and other recipes. Lemongrass is an antianxiety remedy and has been shown to have beneficial effects for type 2 diabetes, epilepsy, insomnia, cancer, cholesterol, thrush (oral candida infection), high triglycerides, and vaginal yeast infection.
Benefits of Mint
— Mint is wonderful for digestion, anxiety, fatigue, nasal congestion, menopause, menstrual cramps, and allergies.
Benefits of Rosemary
— Rosemary has been shown to reduce anxiety, alleviate pain in arthritis, and help lower blood sugar. It also helps protect your skin from the sun’s UV radiation. Keep a sprig of rosemary within reach when you are studying or need to memorize a lot of information, as rosemary’s smell is said to be a memory enhancer.
Benefits of Sage
— Sage has been shown to support memory, the heart, and the skin. It also benefits herpes, cancer, ulcers, psoriasis, and eczema.
Benefits of Tarragon
— Tarragon is a good source of antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins A, B complex, and C. It can help with heart and eye health, and reducing blood sugar levels.
Thyme: Benefits of Thyme
— Thyme is a very flexible herb that we use almost daily in our kitchens. It’s been shown to be antiaging and good for the heart, colds, colitis, bacterial infections, and ulcers.
14 Healing Spices For Greater Health
Just like herbs, most spices go together. You almost can’t go wrong, and it’s the perfect way to use your intuition and your senses as you create your own recipes.
— Allspice is wonderful in just about any recipe, as it’s a flavorful and high-antioxidant spice. It’s helpful for menopause and high blood pressure and contains more than 24 healing compounds.
— Caraway seeds are great for digestion, constipation, acid reflux, and regulating cholesterol.
— Cardamom helps with asthma, constipation, bad breath, and indigestion, and has been shown to lower blood pressure and histamine.
— Cinnamon is anti-inflammatory, helps promote healthy bacteria in your gut (those good guys that help you digest and assimilate your food), and keeps your blood sugar stable (which helps give you willpower!). It can also help with heart health and can prevent diabetes.
— Clove is great for your teeth and gums, helps fight bad bacteria like H. pylori (responsible for ulcers), and can inhibit viruses like herpes and hepatitis C.
— Coriander helps regulate digestion, bloating, cholesterol levels, blood pressure, skin issues (such as rosacea or eczema), and vaginal yeast infections.
— Cumin has beneficial properties for cancer, epilepsy, type 2 diabetes, and bone health.
— Fennel can help with arthritis, calms cramps (including menstrual cramps) and colic, and is a powerful digestive aid and anti-inflammatory.
— Fenugreek has been found to help with weight loss, improved moods, blood sugar balance, cataracts, kidney stones, and gallstones. It can also help prevent or reverse non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
— Ginger is an anti-inflammatory spice that can help with arthritis, nausea, morning sickness, and migraines. It is also amazing for your digestion.
— Nutmeg can protect your skin from wrinkles due to the breakdown of elastin in the skin and skin-damaging ultraviolet (UV) rays, provides anti-anxiety and anti-depression benefits, and inhibits the viral cause of diarrhea.
— Paprika helps with indigestion, cardiovascular health, and circulation; is antibacterial and anti-inflammatory; and contains vitamins A, E, K, and C.
— Saffron has been shown to help with mood issues (such as depression or anxiety), insomnia, blood pressure, menstrual cramps, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, memory issues, and erectile dysfunction.
— Turmeric is wonderful as an anti-inflammatory spice if you’re experiencing arthritis, swelling, or inflammation around your menstrual period, or any other autoimmune-type symptoms. Incidentally, it’s wonderful for your skin and a natural anti-wrinkle remedy. It can also protect against radiation from the sun or x-rays. Be sure to pair with black pepper to activate turmeric’s healing properties.
Treat yourself to some well-loved staple herbs and spices. Use your intuition. When you open your spice cabinet, allow your intuition to guide you to the herbs and spices you feel most drawn to. Sometimes, without even knowing why, you’ll pick spices with exactly the medicinal qualities your body needs. Use the herbs and spices in our recipes and notice how they taste. Start small. If you only put in a little of an herb or spice, like 1⁄8 tsp., you almost can’t go wrong. If you’re not sure, take 1⁄8 tsp. and put it in the food, mix it up, and taste. If you like it, add another 1⁄8 tsp. and go from there.
Try things out; experiment. Heather and I often found during the writing of The Bone Broth Secret that things we thought were big mistakes turned out to be the best-tasting recipes ever. If you’re afraid to make mistakes, you’ll miss out on all the fun you could have, and if you are new to bone broth recipes start out small with the basics from The Bone Broth Secret.
Turmeric and Curcumin for Arthritis: Does It Actually Help Relieve Pain?
Turmeric: This centuries-old spice often used in curries is now popping up in chips, protein bars, even chocolate. It’s touted for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, and has been studied as a natural protection against certain cancers and treatment for Alzheimer’s disease. The potential health benefits stem from curcumin — turmeric’s most active compound.
So, Can Turmeric Help Treat Arthritis?
Data from animal research and small, preliminary trials on patients suggest that curcumin may help ease arthritis symptoms. In one pilot study, 45 people with rheumatoid arthritis took either curcumin, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (diclofenac sodium), or a combination of the two. After eight weeks, the curcumin-only group reported the most improvement in symptoms, without any negative gastrointestinal side effects.
Research on using curcumin for osteoarthritis is even more promising. In an early study published in Phytotherapy Research, participants with mild-to-moderate knee osteoarthritis who took a curcumin supplement saw significant improvements in pain and physical function after six weeks, compared to placebo. Other research has shown turmeric extract was as effective as ibuprofen (a type of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug) for knee OA pain — with fewer GI effects. And a recent analysis of research published in the Journal of Medicinal Food on turmeric extracts concluded that eight to 12 weeks of treatment with standardized turmeric extracts can reduce pain due to arthritis, compared with placebo.
Studies are still in the early stages, and much more research is needed. “But when small studies reach clinical significance, it makes us want to take a closer look,” says Christopher Morris, MD, a rheumatologist with Arthritis Associates of Kingsport, in Tennessee. “Turmeric is not meant to replace methotrexate or biologics for RA by any stretch of the imagination,” he says. But in his patients who can’t take NSAIDs because of other health issues, or they can’t tolerate the side effects and want to try something “natural,” turmeric or curcumin can be considered to help treat symptoms.
How Curcumin Actually Fights Inflammation in Arthritis
Arthritis means you have inflammation in a joint — it’s chronic in RA, but also present OA. Your body makes inflammatory proteins (called cytokines), and a huge number of them are controlled by one molecule called NF-κB, explains Randy Horwitz, MD, PhD, professor of medicine, University of Arizona College of Medicine. “Think of it like an on/off switch for these genes,” says Dr. Horwitz, who also serves as the medical director of the University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine. Treating arthritis with corticosteroids and anti-inflammatories inhibits NF-κB; research shows turmeric can have the same effect. “Inhibit NF-κB, and you’re turning off a whole bunch of inflammatory molecules,” says Dr. Horwitz.
Research suggests curcumin also targets specific inflammatory cells and blocks certain enzymes that lead to inflammation.
Turmeric Spice vs. Supplement: What’s Better?
Though you might like the flavor, a sprinkle of turmeric in your smoothie or soup isn’t going get you much benefit for treating arthritis symptoms. Turmeric only contains about 2 to 9 percent curcuminoids, a family of active compounds that includes curcumin. Plus, curcumin is hard for your body to absorb.
Supplements are the more efficient choice. Look for turmeric supplements that say “standardized to 95% curcuminoids” on the label, advises Dr. Horwitz. And make sure it contains “piperine,” or black pepper extract. When combined in a complex with curcumin, it has been shown to increase bioavailability by 2,000 percent.
Both turmeric and curcumin are generally considered safe, without any serious side effects. The supplement may interact with certain prescription medicines, and may aggravate gall stone disease, cautions Dr. Horwitz.
Before you consider adding turmeric (or any supplement) to your regimen, talk to your doctor about dosing, potential drug interactions, and if it’s a safe option for you.
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