Extracts from turmeric, the yellow spice used extensively in curries, may reduce the destruction of joints associated with arthritis.
Curcumin is a yellow pigment derived from turmeric, which is commonly used as a spice and food-coloring agent. Turmeric has a long history of use in eastern medicine for the treatment of wounds, infections, and other health problems.
More recently, turmeric extract has increasingly come into the spotlight, with studies investigating its potential benefits for reducing cholesterol levels, improving cardiovascular health, reducing the risk of Alzheimer's, improving immunity, preventing weight gain, and potential protection against cancer.
But turmeric extract is probably most known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Turmeric is a potent anti-inflammatory agent, and inflammation is now regarded as an underlying contributor to many chronic diseases, including arthritis. Turning down the inflammation can help to turn down the pain of arthritis.
Turmeric has been shown in studies to inhibit the production of COX-2, in a way comparable to the pharmaceutical COX-2 inhibitors such as Celebrex, but without the harmful side effects.
In another study, cartilage destruction was reduced by 66%, and thigh bone mineral density destruction was reduced by 57% in animals taking a turmeric extract. The extract also appeared to be effective at blocking rheumatoid arthritis by preventing a protein (known as NF-KB) from being activated in the joints. Activation of NF-KB has been associated with increased inflammation.
In that study, the form of turmeric that had the most significant impact against arthritis was the one closest in composition to turmeric extract dietary supplements rather than the turmeric powder found in spices. This version was used in additional experiments and was shown to prevent acute and chronic arthritis, even when it was administered after arthritis had been induced.
Because of the promise of these studies, clinical trials are in the works to verify whether treatment with turmeric extracts can actually prevent/suppress disease flares in rheumatoid arthritis patients, as well as to take a further look at the benefits of turmeric dietary supplements in the prevention or treatment of more common forms of arthritis.
Turmeric, or curcumin has been used safely both medicinally and as a spice for centuries, and is now available in a standardized extract in nutritional supplements. It can be found in both the Joint Support and Duramet formulas.