Curcumin is better than anti-inflammatory drug for rheumatoid arthritis: Study By Zoey Sky for Prevention
Turmeric is normally used to make tasty curries, but many studies have been conducted to find out more about the benefits of its most active compound – curcumin.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) predicts that at least one out of every two people will develop osteoarthritis by the time they are 85. The agency also warned that 78 million adults will be diagnosed with some form of arthritis by the year 2040 and scientists are trying to find safe and effective treatments for this painful condition.
Research has confirmed curcumin’s extreme potency as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory that can help fight the joint-damaging effects of arthritis. According to a study, a specialized form of curcumin called BCM-95 has a great potential.
In a 2006 animal study published in the journal Arthritis and Rheumatology, researchers reported that a curcumin-rich turmeric extract inhibited joint inflammation and joint destruction. The extract also prevented the expression of prostaglandins and of cyclooxygenase 2, two pro-inflammatory substances.
BCM-95 has seven times the bioavailability of standard curcumin
Despite the amazing benefits of curcumin, it has one disadvantage: It has poor bioavailability in the human body.
This means it isn’t practical or possible to get therapeutic amounts of curcumin into your body. In many of the studies that confirmed curcumin’s benefits, scientists had to use extremely large amounts of curcumin that are usually injected.
But researchers have discovered that BCM-95, a specialized complex of purified, reconstituted curcumin, has seven times the bioavailability of standard curcumin. They are hopeful that BCM-95 can be used to solve curcumin’s low bioavailability.
In a study published in the journal Phytotherapy Research, a research team worked with 45 volunteers who had active rheumatoid arthritis.
The participants were divided into three groups:
- One group received 500 mg a day of BCM-95, the purified curcumin.
- The next group received both curcumin and 50 mg a day of diclofenac, a standard arthritis medication.
- The last group was only given the diclofenac.
The scientists measured the efficacy of curcumin by finding out how many volunteers reported significant improvements in joint swelling and tenderness measured in increments of 20 percent, 50 percent and 70 percent.
Findings showed that a whopping 93 percent of the group who only took curcumin reported the greatest improvement in symptoms. They experienced a significant reduction in pain and swelling.
In the first group, 73 percent of the participants experienced a very marked 50 percent reduction. At least 33 percent of the volunteers in this group also experienced an impressive 70 percent reduction in joint swelling and tenderness. (Related: Research explores the many health benefits of curcumin.)
The curcumin-only group also led to a reduction in reported pain, with a decrease of 60 percent.
The researchers reported that in the curcumin and diclofenac group, the curcumin didn’t offer any benefits in pain reduction. The pain reduction in the group that took only diclofenac was only 50 percent.
Aside from the volunteers’ reports of their reduced symptoms, the researchers also analyzed erythrocyte sedimentation rates, which measure inflammation.
Data showed that both the curcumin and curcumin/diclofenac groups experienced reductions in their erythrocyte sedimentation rate by 11.2 and 13.3 percent, respectively.
Meanwhile, the group taking only the diclofenac only had an 8.3 percent reduction in sedimentation rate.
The researchers also found that the curcumin-only group cut their levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), another marker of inflammation, by 52 percent.
The diclofenac group had no reductions in CRP measurements. Surprisingly, they actually experienced a 1.5 percent increase of the inflammatory protein.
Curcumin is a safe alternative because it doesn’t have reported side effects
The research team was impressed because the curcumin group experienced no side effects or adverse reactions, but those in the diclofenac groups did.
Diclofenac is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that can cause different side effects like:
- Allergic reactions
- Bloating or gas
- Gastrointestinal bleeding
- Liver toxicity
- Ringing in the ears
Other drugs used to treat rheumatoid arthritis like methotrexate can suppress your immune system and increase infection risk.
Fortunately, the researchers reported that there were no similar problems linked to curcumin. They also highlighted the superiority and safety of this non-toxic natural compound over diclofenac in most measures of inflammation.
Many conventional treatments, even if they succeed in reducing pain and swelling caused by rheumatoid arthritis, usually just “mask” symptoms and don’t always change the underlying cause.
But using curcumin helps directly fight inflammation since it can aim at multiple inflammatory targets simultaneously.
The scientists also discovered that curcumin helped reduce all pro-inflammatory molecules in cartilage cells and in membranes that line the joints like tumor necrosis factor, which destroys joint cartilage; and vascular endothelial growth factor, which promotes excessive growth of blood vessels in inflamed joints.
These multiple actions of curcumin are more impressive compared to the single-action mechanism of many conventional drugs like diclofenac.
To prevent and treat arthritis, curcumin is one of the most promising cures that can help people suffering from this debilitating condition. Additionally, curcumin can help protect the cartilage that protects your joints.
Many studies have proven that inflammation is at the root of almost all chronic degenerative diseases. This means that curcumin can potentially prevent and fight against osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, along with other life-threatening conditions like Alzheimer’s, cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and multiple sclerosis.
Studies are also confirming this possibility. In recent animal studies, BCM-95 decreased inflammation linked to obesity while also reducing levels of the inflammatory molecule IL-2, a compound often linked to Alzheimer’s.
With the development of BCM-95 or purified reconstituted curcumin, preventing inflammation and its adverse effects is now more promising.
Follow a balanced diet and use curcumin to reap its many health benefits.