Turmeric For Inflammation

By: Ehren Allen, DPT, COMT

Turmeric for Inflammation

There is a lot of buzz about natural anti-inflammatory treatments. We now know that underlying inflammation is a leading cause of health problems. Turmeric has long been considered an anti-inflammatory food. There is science to back this up.  

Read on to learn about Turmeric and how it can help.

image of a wooden spoon full of ground turmeric with sliced turmeric root beside itTurmeric for Inflammation

Is Inflammation Bad?

Inflammation is a normal process that occurs in our bodies. It is how the immune system addresses illness and how the body repairs injuries. When you get hurt, white blood cells rush to the area to correct and repair the issue. There may be swelling and redness, but it usually goes away as healing progresses. 

Sometimes the inflammatory response happens even if there is not a good reason. This may be due to exposure to toxins or chemicals. It may come from eating certain foods that are inflammatory.  These include refined sugar or artificial sweeteners. But, when there is chronic underlying inflammation in an organ or part of the body, it can lead to health problems. 

Chronic underlying inflammation is associated many health issues including: 

  • Heart Disease
  • Alzheimer's Disease
  • Joint Pain
  • Cancer 

Obesity can lead to increased chronic underlying inflammation as well. Click HERE for Tips to Lose Weight.

Anti-Inflammatory Medications

Anti-Inflammatory medications are very common for treating muscle, tendon, and joint pain. There are several classes of drugs to treat inflammation including:

  • Steroids
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • COX-2 Inhibitors

The problem is that these medications can have adverse reactions or side effects in some people. The risk of side effects can outweigh the benefits for some people. 

This leaves folks looking for alternatives that are more tolerable and less risky, such as dietary changes or supplements.

Natural Anti Inflammatories

Proper diet is a great way to attack inflammation in the body. The Mediterranean Diet is known to include many foods with anti-inflammatory properties.  

Foods that are know as anti-inflammatory include:

  • Fatty Fish (like salmon or mackerel)
  • Olive Oil
  • Dark leafy Greens (like spinach or kale)
  • Nuts (walnuts or almonds)
  • Berries (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries)
  • Ginger
  • Turmeric

What is Turmeric?

The quick answer is that turmeric is a root in the ginger family.  It is native to southeast Asia and is grown commonly in India. Turmeric can be cooked and eaten, or ground and used as a spice. It is a key ingredient in many curry dishes.

Turmeric contains Curcumin, a substance that has been found to have anti-inflammatory qualities. 

Will Adding Turmeric to Food Help Inflammation?

Image of woman cooking at her stove and adding turmeric spice to the pan of food.  Woman adding Turmeric to food

The quick answer is that adding turmeric will not necessarily help with inflammation. Turmeric is made of only about 5% curcumin, which is the anti-inflammatory component.  So, it would take a lot of turmeric to get enough curcumin to have any benefit. 

Supplemental curcumin tablets made of concentrate are a more effective way to get enough curcumin to receive the anti-inflammatory benefit. 

Most studies show anti-inflammatory benefits with 500 mg-2000 mg of curcumin daily.  

Curcumin and Piperine

Taking Curcumin supplements alone may not be effective. The liver tends to excrete higher amounts of curcumin which limits it's effect. Piperine can stop the liver from excreting the excess curcumin.

Piperine is a substance that is found in black pepper. Black pepper is only made up of about 5% piperine.  

Taking a concentrate of piperine with a concentrate of curcumin has been shown to be more effective with dealing with inflammation. 

Is Turmeric or Curcumin Safe?

As with all supplements, there are potential risks.  In studies, most side-effects from curcumin happened to those who took more that 4000 mg per day.  But, it is still important to discuss all supplements and medications with your doctor before trying them

The FDA has warned that Turmeric from Bangladesh may have high quantities of lead.  So, always check the source of your foods and supplements.

If you have pain or inflammation that is limiting daily life, the Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute can help. To schedule and appointment, call 904-JOI-2000,  schedule online, or click the link below.

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