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Can Turmeric Ease Arthritis?
Curcumin extracted from turmeric beat a commonly prescribed drug
11/4/2013By Craig Weatherby
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Turmeric root – which gives curry its yellow-orange hue – has long been prized in Asian medicine.
 
The term "curcumin" refers to turmeric's complex of yellow-orange compounds.
 
More accurately, curcumin is just one of a trio of three closely related "curcuminoids".
 
Lab experiments and preliminary clinical studies indicate that this synergistic trio of polyphenol compounds supports immune and brain health in uniquely powerful ways.
 
Curcumin is a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent, and preliminary studies suggest that it could deter or ameliorate various inflammatory disorders.
 
These include rheumatoid arthritis (RA), which is caused by a mysterious auto-immune process that produces chronic joint inflammation and other symptoms.
 
Pick your curcumin carefully
The researchers noted that some curcumin studies in the past have been limited by the poor absorption and bio-availability of curcumin, but they used a well-absorbed form in this study.
 
Curcumin is far better absorbed when it is accompanied by turmeric volatile oils ... also known as essential oils. Vital Choice Curcumin in Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil extract includes the full spectrum of turmeric volatile oils.
 
Accordingly, clinical studies show that the curcumin in our extract is absorbed six to seven times better than the curcumin in conventional 95%-curcumin dietary supplements (Antony B et al. 2012).
 
This huge absorption advantage means that a 500 mg serving (two softgel capsules) of Vital Choice Curcumin – which contains 85% curcuminoids (425mg) – is equivalent to about 3,000 mg of a typical 95% curcumin supplement.
An NIH-funded animal study quantified the degree to which curcumin may limit the joint damage characteristic of RA (Funk JL et al J Nat Prod 2006).
 
Among other anti-inflamatory effects, curcumin acts (very safely) on the same COX-2 enzyme impacted (not so safely) by drugs such as Celebrex, and inhibits pro-inflammatory gene switches like NF-kappaB (Funk JL et al Arthritis Rheum 2006).
 
Surprisingly, there’s only been one prior human clinical trial testing curcumin in rheumatoid arthritis patients, vs. a standard drug called phenylbutazone (Deodhar SD, et al 1980).
 
At the end of that six-week study, the curcumin and phenylbutazone groups reported similar improvements in morning stiffness and physical endurance.
 
Now, Indian scientists report more clinical evidence that RA sufferers seeking relief without harmful side effects may get it from curcumin.
 
Curcumin beat a common arthritis drug
In the second-ever clinical trial in rheumatoid arthritis patients, Indian scientists tested curcumin vs. a commonly used non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) called diclofenac (see “The downside to NSAIDs”, below).
 
The authors reported that 1,000mg of curcumin per day (500 mg twice daily) outperformed diclofenac for alleviating the pain and inflammation of RA ... with no adverse side effects.
 
This pilot clinical trial involved 45 participants, all of whom had mild-to-moderate rheumatoid arthritis, and lasted eight weeks.
 
The volunteers were divided into three groups, with one assigned to take curcumin, one to take diclofenac, and the a third group took both.
 
The primary outcomes measured were reduction in Disease Activity Score (DAS), while the secondary outcomes included American College of Rheumatology (ACR) criteria for reduction in tenderness and swelling of joint scores.
 
Patients in all three treatment groups showed statistically significant changes in their DAS scores.
 
However, the curcumin group showed the greatest improvement in overall DAS and ACR scores, which were significantly better than the patients in the diclofenac group.
 
The combination of curcumin and diclofenacworked even better, but produced some of the adverse side effects seen in the diclofenac-only group. 
 
Adverse side effects in the diclofenac group included itching and swelling around the eyes, dimness of vision, and liver toxicity.
 
The downside to NSAIDs
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug NSAIDs include aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil), naproxen (Aleve), indomethacin (Indocin), celecoxib (Celebrex), and more.
 
They’re blunt instruments that can alleviate pain and inflammation, but yield many undesirable side effects.
 
Some 107,000 people are hospitalized annually for NSAID)-related gastrointestinal (GI) complications and at least 16,500 NSAID-related deaths occur each year among arthritis patients alone (Singh G 1998).
 
The full range of adverse side effects include these (Weisman SM et al. 2002; Wolff T et al. 2009):
  • Eye toxicity
  • Liver toxicity
  • Stomach bleeding
  • Raised blood pressure
  • Cartilage degeneration
  • Accelerated osteoporosis
  • Decreased production of blood cells
  • Hypersensitivity and allergic reactions
  • Nutrient deficiencies (folic acid, vitamin C, calcium, iron)
 
 
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