Nutrient Spotlight: The Benefits of Turmeric for Joint Health and Comfort

by Dr. David Williams
Filed Under: Bone & Joint Health
Last Reviewed 04/17/2014

Learn how this common kitchen spice comforts aching joints

Some of the most powerful and safest therapies are found in nature.

Turmeric, which grows wild in the forests of South and Southeast Asia, is one that tops my list, particularly when it comes to comforting aching joints.

Why Is Turmeric Such a Powerful Antioxidant?

Historically, turmeric has been a component of Indian Auyrvedic medicine and has been used extensively in various Indian ceremonies for centuries. Research has identified curcumin, a bright yellow spice (Curcuma longa), as the active ingredient in turmeric, often used in many Indian, Pakistani, Persian, and Thai dishes.

Curcumin has been prized as a preventive agent for a wide range of conditions due largely to its antioxidant properties. That's because it protects cells from the normal, but damaging, process of oxidation. It does this by scavenging molecules known as free radicals which are one of the root causes of aging. Most remarkable is curcumin’s ability to reduce inflammation and provide relief for hindering joint pain.

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How Does Turmeric Work in the Body?

Turmeric's primary benefit is its ability to help reduce inflammation and pain. Preliminary cell studies suggest that the curcuminoids in turmeric promote a normal inflammatory response by inhibiting the expression of the COX-2 "pain" enzyme.

However, one of the biggest challenges is that curcumin is notoriously difficult for the body to absorb. Fortunately, scientists have found a way to counteract that.

Scientists discovered that if they attach curcumin to soy-derived phosphatidylcholine, which is very well absorbed by the body, they could get more curcumin to painful joints. That’s because phosphatidylcholine acts as a “shuttle,” moving the curcumin through cell membranes and into the bloodstream and tissues where it promotes joint relief.

This more concentrated and promising form of curcumin is the patented formulation called Meriva®.

In a pilot human clinical study, Meriva was shown to be 45 times more bioavailable than ordinary curcumin. In another human study, curcuminoid absorption was 29-fold higher for Meriva compared to unformulated curcuminoid mixtures.

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What Scientific Studies Say About Turmeric

Turmeric is among the most thoroughly researched supplements, with more than 4,000 studies conducted and several more ongoing.

Most recently, Meriva was studied at the University of Chieta, Italy. In the study, all participants took the best available treatment for their particular condition, and half added one gram of Meriva daily. At the end of 90 days, those who took Meriva were better able to carry on their normal daily activities.

Another long-term study showed that pain scores in those who took Meriva were reduced by 56 percent, with no significant pain improvements in the control group. Other clinical studies have shown that Meriva decreases pain and stiffness by more than 50 percent and significantly reduces inflammation.

How to Make Turmeric Work for You

One way to start reaping the benefits of turmeric is to season your foods with this powerful antioxidant. You can add it to soups or to stews, or even drink turmeric tea.

If you want to try turmeric as a therapeutic measure, consider a supplement that contains curcumin or Meriva®. Many supplements combine curcumin or Meriva with other remedies suited to specific conditions. For instance, my Joint Advantage Gold® Advanced Relief contains Meriva and other ingredients to help promote comfortable, healthy joints.

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