Curcumin, Pain And Inflammation In Osteoarthritis

By London Nutritionist Sylvia Hensher

What Is Osteoarthritis?

In osteoarthritis, the cartilage that cushions your joints deteriorates and the synovial fluid that keeps your joints lubricated and cushioned is typically reduced as well. It is the most common form of arthritis among the elderly. It’s normally associated with “wear and tear” on your joints, but can also be caused by repetitive stress or acute trauma. The pain is a result of your bones starting to come into contact with each other as cartilage and synovial fluid is reduced.

It causes joint stiffness, pain, inflammation and swelling that can become debilitating. Many patients turn to non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) and analgesics for pain relief but the regular, chronic use of these types of medications is associated with side effects such as cardiovascular problems, gastrointestinal harm and kidney and/or liver damage. If you are taking an NSAID, you are at approximately three times greater risk for developing serious gastrointestinal side effects than those who aren’t.

What Is Curcumin?

Curcumin is the pigment that gives the curry spice turmeric its yellow-orange color and is the active ingredient in the herb turmeric. Both the ancient Chinese and Indian systems of medicine have recognized curcumin’s beneficial properties for thousands of years, and now modern research is showing it may be one of nature’s most powerful potential healers.

Curcumin is known for its potent anti-inflammatory properties. The compound has been shown to influence more than 700 genes, and it can inhibit both the activity and the synthesis of enzymes such as cyclooxygenase-2 (COX2) and 5-lipooxygenase (5-LOX) that have been implicated in inflammation.

How Can Curcumin Help Osteoarthritis Patients?

A study shows that a formulation of curcumin can relieve pain and increase mobility in patients with osteoarthritis as well as reduce a series of inflammatory markers.

100 patients with osteoarthritis were divided in two groups: the first group was given the “best available treatment” and the second group was given the same treatment plus 200 mg of the curcumin formulation each day.

In the latest study of osteoarthritis patients, those who added 200 mg of curcumin a day to their treatment plan had reduced pain and increased mobility, whereas the control group, which received no curcumin, had no significant improvements.

Curcumin’s anti-inflammatory effects help to reduce irritation to tissues characterized by pain, redness, swelling and heat, which is particularly helpful for osteoarthritis patients.

You can use turmeric in your cooking (choose a pure turmeric powder, rather than a curry powder, as at least one study has found that curry powders tend to contain very little curcumin), but you may also want to consider taking it in supplement form.

For many this is a more convenient method to obtain the potential health benefits, especially if it is from a high-quality organic source, and also if you don’t enjoy the taste of curry. Curcumin is not only beneficial for osteoarthritis; research is also emerging showing it may play a beneficial role in the following diseases:

  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Psoriasis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Cataracts
  • Gallstones
  • Muscle regeneration
  • Inflammatory bowel disease

Other Natural Aids  for Osteoarthritis

1. Omega-3 fats are also well known to help reduce inflammation.

2. Adding glucosamine to your omega-3s appears to be an excellent choice for osteoarthritis sufferers in particular. This is because your body needs the proper building blocks, in the form of glucosamine, to rebuild both cartilage and synovial fluid, so correcting this deficiency by using a high-quality supplement may be helpful. In one study, participants with moderate-to-severe hip or knee osteoarthritis who received 1,500 mg of glucosamine sulfate along with 200 mg of omega-3 had greater pain reduction and fewer symptoms (morning stiffness, pain in hips and knees) than those who took glucosamine by itself

3. Optimise your vitamin D levels as Vitamin D deficiency is associated with inflammation. Be sure your levels are in the healthy range by getting proper sun exposure or taking a high-quality vitamin D3 supplement. Low vitamin D has also been linked to osteoarthritis directly.

4. Even light exercise has been shown to help prevent the onset of osteoarthritis, and it is very important to exercise and increase muscle tone of your non-weight bearing joints. In time, disuse results in muscle atrophy and weakness, and immobility may result in joint contractures and loss of range of motion, so it’s important to keep moving.Your program should include a range of activities, just as I recommend for any exerciser. Weight training, cardiovascular, stretching and core work can all be integrated into your routine

Contact us now on 0207 724 4445 /07812 163 324 or email us at to find out how we can help you manage pain and osteoarthritis!


Appendino G Belcaro G Cesarone MR et al (2010) Efficacy and safety of Meriva, a curcumin-phosphatidylcholine complex, during extended administration in osteoarthritis patients. Altern Med Rev15 4 337-44

Gruenwald J Petzold E Busch R Petzold HP Graubaum HJ (2009)   Effect of glucosamine sulfate with or without omega-3 fatty acids in patients with osteoarthritis Adv Ther 2 69 858-71

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