Study: Turmeric’s Curcumin Effectively Reduces Pain in Osteoarthritis Patients
A vast amount of research notes that curcumin has proven anti-inflammatory effects. Research highlights curcumin’s effectiveness for pain management in patients with knee osteoarthritis.
In a published study, researchers at the Krishna Institute of Medical Sciences University in India indicate that curcumin, the prominent curcuminoid found in turmeric, is a safe and effective tool for osteoarthritis patients . In particular, the scientists found that curcumin is similarly effective and better tolerated than diclofenac, a common non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), often used to manage osteoarthritis pain.
Conventional Medicine’s Treatment of Osteoarthritis
Knee osteoarthritis (OA) occurs when the protective cartilage that cushions your bones' ends wears down over time. While this condition can affect any joint, the disorder most commonly affects joints in your hands, knees, hips, and spine with symptoms of pain, stiffness, swelling, bone spurs, and loss of flexibility .
Interestingly, knee OA is the fourth leading cause of disability worldwide and is particularly common in older or obese adults . Because this condition is prevalent and widespread, researchers zealously research new pain management therapies that are affordable and accessible.
The current treatment plan is for doctors to treat OA pain with a concoction of pharmacological substances, including diclofenac. The FDA recently approved an over-the-counter diclofenac gel; however, the FDA notes that diclofenac is merely a pain management drug and has side effects, including severe allergic reaction (especially in those allergic to aspirin) and liver damage . Also, while pain management drugs can be used as a temporary tool for pain, one must remember that they only temporarily mask the condition's symptoms. In other words, NSAIDs do not treat the disease itself, just temporarily masks the pain.
Further, research has shown that long-term, continuous diclofenac use can cause serious harm, including gastrointestinal bleeding, gastrointestinal ulcer formation, and increased cardiovascular risk  .
This is the primary reason why researchers look for natural alternatives to pharmacological substances. Natural options can be equally or superiorly efficacious without the added severe health consequences. Curcumin is long-studied for its anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties, so it is a logical substitute.
To test the effectiveness of curcumin as a pain prevention method in patients with knee OA, researchers randomly assigned patients to either a curcumin group or a diclofenac group. Patients were given either 500mg of curcumin three times daily or 50mg of diclofenac two times daily, for 28 days. The scientists then assessed the patients at days 0, 7, 14, and 28 of the study: The patients’ flatulence occurrences evaluated on day 7; the pain severity and Knee Injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome Scores (KOOS) assessed on days 14 and 28; and the treatment’s anti-ulcer effect, weight-lowering effect, and overall therapy assessment evaluated on day 28.
At day 7, patients in the curcumin group experienced a significantly reduced amount of episodic flatulence than the diclofenac group.
At days 14 and 28, the curcumin group patients showed similar improvement in the severity of pain and KOOS scores compared to the diclofenac group. Any difference was statistically insignificant.
On day 28, the researchers noted weight-lowering and anti-ulcer effects in the curcumin group.
Overall, “Adverse effects were significantly less in the curcumin group,” with the patients’ and doctors’ overall assessment scores being similar for both groups.
Some diclofenac patients required H2 blockers while none of the curcumin patients did, likely because of curcumin’s anti-ulcer properties. H2 blockers is a medication that reduces stomach acid and prevents the formation of gastric ulcers.
Although not directly addressed in the above study, curcumin’s ability to support weight loss may be an additive benefit for those with knee OA.
In a 2015 study, researchers conducted a randomized, controlled study to evaluate the tolerability and efficacy of curcumin on overweight subjects affected by metabolic syndrome, focusing on impaired glucose (sugar) intolerance and android-type fat accumulation . After the 60-day study, researchers found that curcumin administration increased weight loss from 1.88% to 4.91%, enhanced percentage reduction of body fat (from .70% to 8.43%), increased waistline reduction (from 2.36% to 4.14%), and enhanced reduction of BMI (from 2.10% to 6.43%). The placebo had no statistically significant effect.
The researchers concluded, “Our findings suggest that a bioavailable form of curcumin is well-tolerated and can positively influence weight management in overweight people” .
Curcumin and Bioavailability
Turmeric is known for being difficult to absorb in the body. Thus, it is vital that, if someone were to take a turmeric supplement, they choose a turmeric supplement with bioavailability-promoting properties.
Healthmasters offers Turmeric Force, a pure, whole-turmeric product that is formulated with supercritical extract for optimal absorption. This product features a dual-extract of the whole herb, and numerous studies indicate curcumin's activity and bioavailability is significantly enhanced when delivered in the context of the other known curcuminoids, tumerones, and hundreds of other constituents in the whole rhizome [11-16].
If you have questions about Healthmasters’ Turmeric Force product, please call our office at 800.726.1834.