Turmeric As Effective As Ibuprofen for Knee Pain


Turmeric is a traditional Ayurvedic medicine used to treat inflammation and reduce pain. Several studies suggest that its main active ingredient, the golden-yellow curcumin, is as effective as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for alleviating knee pain in osteoarthritis.

Both NSAIDs and curcumin work by reducing the production of inflammatory chemicals. NSAIDs do this by inhibiting the synthesis of two particular enzymes, COX-1 and COX-2. Curcumin works via a number of cell signalling pathways, however, including COX-2, each of which separately reduces the production and activation of different inflammatory mediators. This wider ranging activity has the potential to reduce pain and inflammation with less potential for side effects.



What does the research show?

In a study involving 367 people with moderate to severe knee osteoarthritis, half were randomised to receive ibuprofen (1,200 mg per day) and half to take turmeric extracts (1,500 mg per day) in divided doses for 4 weeks.

A validated joint questionnaire (WOMAC) showed that symptoms significantly improved in both groups at 2 weeks and 4 weeks, and there were no significant differences in pain, stiffness or function scores between those taking ibuprofen and those taking curcumin.

The number of people experiencing abdominal pain or discomfort was significantly higher in the ibuprofen group than that in those taking curcumin, however, and the researchers concluded that turmeric extracts are as effective as ibuprofen for the treatment of knee osteoarthritis but with fewer gastrointestinal side effects.

If you prefer taking a natural medicine, have experienced side effects with NSAIDs, or are concerned about their adverse effects on the stomach, kidney, liver and cardiovascular system, curcumin could be a good alternative.

Curcumin can also be taken together with painkillers to help boost their effectiveness so lower doses are required.

Curcumin can also be combined with glucosamine and chondroitin to produce a faster onset of action and improved results.

For more information on how turmeric and curcumin can improve immunity, liver health, irritable bowel syndrome, migraine and its other medicinal uses, click here to read Turmeric – The Golden Medicine.

Have you used turmeric or curcumin supplements to treat knee pain? How did you get on?



Image credit: steven_jackson/flickr


About DrSarahBrewer

Dr Sarah Brewer MSc (Nutr Med), MA (Cantab), MB, BChir, RNutr, MBANT qualified from Cambridge University with degrees in Natural Sciences, Medicine and Surgery. After working in general practice, she gained a Master's degree in Nutritional Medicine from the University of Surrey. Sarah is a licensed Medical Doctor, a Registered Nutritionist, a Registered Nutritional Therapist and the award winning author of over 60 popular self-help books. Sarah's other websites are www.MyLowerBloodPressure.com and www.ExpertHealthReviews.com.


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4 thoughts on “Turmeric As Effective As Ibuprofen for Knee Pain

  • Sarah Gunning Moser

    I am 63 and have moderate osteoarthritis in my right knee, mild in the left. I have had several injuries to the right knee joint in particular over the years. How much turmeric is required per day for someone my age?

    Thanks,
    Sarah Gunning Moser
    Long Beach, Washington, USA

  • fnmyalgia

    I’m a big fan of both turmeric (golden lattes, or grated into stews) and COX-2 inhib celecoxib (Celebrex, taken for costochondritis in fibromyalgia). However your Thai study has far less risk of bias than the dodgy dealings I blog upon.