Different forms of Turmeric

How Turmeric Helps Relieve Pain & Inflammation

Curious about Turmeric? Learn how this common spice can help relieve pain and inflammation.

You've probably heard of it before.

Turmeric is a common household spice that's very popular in curry and other Indian dishes. However, for years it's also been used as a natural remedy for various health conditions.

In this article, I'm going to cover how Turmeric can help relieve pain and inflammation. If you're looking for a natural way to reduce these symptoms, then keep reading!

What is Turmeric?

Turmeric is a spice that comes from the Curcuma longa plant. It's similar to ginger but has a warm, pungent, and bitter taste.

Turmeric is native to India and has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. The main active ingredient is curcumin.

This compound is what gives turmeric its distinct yellow color. Curcumin is also responsible for most of the health benefits associated with this spice.

Benefits of Turmeric

Turmeric has been used as a natural remedy for centuries. Modern science is now beginning to understand how it works.

The most popular use for Turmeric is to reduce inflammation and treat pain. A study on the use of Turmeric to treat inflammatory diseases notes: "Curcumin exerts anti-inflammatory effects by regulating inflammatory signaling pathways and inhibiting the production of inflammatory mediators."

In other words, curcumin helps to reduce inflammation by regulating the way that inflammatory signals are sent and by stopping the production of inflammatory chemicals.

This offers a lot of relief for people who suffer from inflammatory conditions like IBD, arthritis, psoriasis, depression, and atherosclerosis.

Turmeric is also known to be an anti-oxidant and is being studied to see its effects on other conditions and diseases including:

  • Hay fever
  • Itching
  • Pain
  • Heartburn
  • Kidney problems
  • Heart disease
  • High cholesterol and triglyceride levels

Methods of Taking Turmeric

Turmeric can be taken in many different forms. The most common are:

  • Powder: You can buy Turmeric powder online or at most health food stores. It can be added to food or drinks, or you can take it in capsule form.
  • Tea: You can make Turmeric tea by adding 1-2 teaspoons of powder to boiling water and steeping for 5 minutes.
  • Tincture: This is a concentrated liquid form of Turmeric that you can take by mouth. It's usually taken in small doses throughout the day.
  • Extract: This is a concentrated form of Turmeric that's taken in pill form. It's usually standardized to contain 95% curcuminoids.
  • Topical: You can also find Turmeric in creams and ointments. This can be applied to the skin to help relieve pain and inflammation.

How to Use Turmeric for Pain & Inflammation

There are no official recommendations on how much Turmeric should be used. WebMD suggests these dosing recommendations:

  • Less than 8 grams a day for up to 2 months.
  • Up to 3 grams a day for up to 3 months.
  • Up to 1.5 grams a day for up to 9 months.

Turmeric is best absorbed when taken with foods. GoodRx Health recommends that "Fatty foods, such as eggs and vegetable oils (like coconut or olive oil), are the best to combine with turmeric. This is because they contain a compound called lecithin. Lecithin helps the body absorb turmeric."

Avoid High doses or long-term use because it can cause gastrointestinal upset for some people. 

When to Avoid Taking Turmeric

Although Turmeric is generally safe, there are some situations where you should avoid taking it. These include:

  • People with bleeding disorders or taking blood-thinning medications.
  • People with gallstones or a history of gallbladder disease.
  • Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Children under the age of 2.

Turmeric can also interact with certain medications, so be sure to check with your doctor before taking it.

Turmeric Spice Vs. Dietary Supplement

If your goal is to use Turmeric to help fight pain and inflammation, you have two options to choose from: the spice or a dietary supplement. If you go the spice route, you can try increasing how often you use Turmeric in your cooking and recipes.

Turmeric spice is commonly used in curries, rice dishes, and soups. You can also find it in some breakfast cereals and health drinks.

If you go the dietary supplement route, you'll take Turmeric via capsules, tablets, powders, or liquids. Both options can be effective at reducing pain and inflammation.

Because Turmeric supplements contain such high levels of curcuminoids they are most likely more effective in the short term, however, they aren't recommended for long-term use.

If you'd like to make Turmeric a more permanent part of your health regimen, you'd probably be better off incorporating the spice into your diet. This way you can get the benefits of Turmeric without having to worry about any potential side effects from taking high doses of curcuminoids.

FAQs About Turmeric and Inflammation

Here are some frequently asked questions about Turmeric and its effects on relieving pain and inflammation.

Will Turmeric help with inflammation caused by working out?

There's some evidence that Turmeric can help reduce the inflammation caused by exercise. One study found that "curcumin can reduce inflammation and offset some of the performance deficits associated with eccentric exercise-induced muscle damage."

However, this study was done on mice and more research needs to be done to confirm these findings in humans.

How long does it take for Turmeric to work?

The effects of Turmeric can vary from person to person. Also, the dosage and specific supplement can affect how long it takes to work.

However, a timeline of about 4-8 weeks seems to be the general consensus for seeing the effects of Turmeric.

Is turmeric a strong anti-inflammatory?

Yes, Turmeric is a strong anti-inflammatory compound. The Mayo Clinic notes "that taking turmeric extract three times daily was comparable to taking a 1,200-milligram dose of ibuprofen daily. However, more research is necessary to confirm these effects."

Is Turmeric safe?

Turmeric is generally safe for most people. The side effects are mostly mild. However, it is recommended to avoid high doses of Turmeric for long periods.

As with any supplement, it's always best to talk to your doctor before taking it. This is especially important if you have a medical condition or are taking any medications.

Conclusion

If you're looking for a more natural way to reduce pain and inflammation, Turmeric may be a good option for you. It's generally safe and has few side effects.

Keep in mind, however, that it's not a quick fix and may take a while before you see some effects. Be sure to talk to your doctor before taking it, especially if you have any medical conditions or are taking any medications.

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