Curcumin & Arthritis
Also see commercial Turmeric Curcumin
UA study: Turmeric root stops arthritis by SHERYL KORNMAN
A University of Arizona physician and a UA plant scientist have determined
that turmeric root can prevent the onset of rheumatoid arthritis.
The results of their research are published this month in Arthritis and
Rheumatism, the journal of the American College of Rheumatology.
The study by Dr. Janet L. Funk and Barbara N. Timmermann provides the
first "in vivo" documentation of how extracts containing curcumin protect
against arthritis, according to a news release from the UA College of
Curcuminoid are found in the root of turmeric, a spice used in cooking
and in ancient Asian herbal remedies.
The study also showed that as well as preventing joint inflammation,
extract of curcuminoid helps prevent bone loss.
This finding is being used in another study by Funk to determine whether
turmeric can prevent bone loss in women before menopause.
Curcumin's Anti-Inflammatory Effects
Curcuminoids inhibit enzymes which participate in the synthesis of
inflammatory substances in the body. The natural anti-inflammatory activity
of curcuminoids is comparable in strength to steroidal drugs, and such
nonsteroidal drugs as indomethacin and phenylbutazone, which have dangerous
Arthritis is caused by continuous inflammation, which is a result from a
complex series of actions and/or reactions triggered by the body's
immunological response to tissue damage. Moderate inflammation is necessary
for the healing process; however, continuous inflammation leads to chronic
conditions like arthritis and its associated pain. In a double-blind,
controlled study, three groups of patients received either curcumin (400
mg), the anti-inflammatory prescription drug phenylbutazone (100 mg), or a
placebo (250 mg of lactose powder) three times daily for five consecutive
days after surgery. They had been admitted for either a hernia condition or
an accumulation of fluid in the scrotum. The results: curcumin was just as
effective as phenylbutazone in reducing post-operative inflammation.
Curcuminoids prevent the synthesis of several inflammatory prostaglandins
and leukotrienes. When the anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin were
tested in a double-blind clinical trial in patients with rheumatoid
arthritis, curcumin produced significant improvement in all patients, and
again the therapeutic effects were comparable to those obtained with
Further, oral administration of curcumin to rats, at a dose of 3 mg per
kilogram of body weight, and sodium curcumin at a dose of 0.1 mg/kg,
inhibited formalin-induced arthritis in the animals. In fact, curcumin once
again was comparatively as effective as phenylbutazone in this application.
In a double-blind trial in 49 patients diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis,
when curcumin was given at a dose of 1,200 mg per day for five to six weeks,
there was an overall improvement in morning stiffness and physical
endurance; this yielded comparable effects to those obtained with
Other inflammation-related illnesses? Patients with chronic respiratory
disorders experience significant relief in symptoms such as cough and
shortness of breath. Eye drops of a turmeric mixture were administered in 25
cases of bacterial conjunctivitis, an inflammatory condition of the eye.
Symptoms such as eye redness or a burning sensation began subsiding after
the third day of treatment. During the six-day treatment period, it was
determined that 23 of the 25 patients were relieved of all symptoms.
Curcumin has a similar action to aspirin. However, unlike aspirin curcumin
inhibits synthesis of inflammatory prostaglandins, but does not affect the
synthesis of prostacyclin, an important factor in preventing vascular
thrombosis. Any drug that affects its synthesis (especially when used in
large doses) may increase the risk of this dangerous condition. Curcumin may
therefore be preferable for patients who are prone to vascular thrombosis
and require anti-inflammatory and/or anti-arthritic therapy.
In a recent study, cats exposed to myocardial ischemia-reduced blood flow in
the heart tissues, a condition resulting from the consequences of a heart
attack, were evaluated using curcumin and quinidine, a standard
antiarrhythmic drug. Both of the substances protected the animals against a
decrease in heart rate and blood pressure following restricted blood flow to
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