If you’re an amateur chef at home, you’re probably familiar with turmeric. It’s a can’t-miss bright orange powder that has a somewhat earthy taste to it—great for seasoning Indian, Asian and Mediterranean dishes. But while you might know how to use it as a seasoning, what you may not know is that turmeric can be used for many other things besides cooking—namely, for its health benefits.
Turmeric contains a compound known as curcumin, which is often used for medicinal purposes. Studies have shown that curcumin may help those suffering from heart disease and common brain disorders. Curcumin is also known for its anti-inflammatory properties, which is why turmeric can be helpful in fighting joint pain.
Turmeric vs. other anti-inflammatory drugs
There are plenty of anti-inflammatory drugs on the market these days, including over-the-counter (OTC) medications like ibuprofen and naproxen. However, if you are looking for a more natural option to help with your joint pain, turmeric might be the best choice. Turmeric doesn’t have the side effects common in anti-inflammatory drugs, and trials have shown that the spice can be just as effective in relieving joint pain.
While turmeric versus OTC pain meds isn’t a clear one-to-one comparison, the addition of turmeric in your diet could help reduce the need for painkillers when you have arthritis flare-ups or other bouts of inflammation. Think of it as a hedge against constant medication with drugs that are known to have long-term side effects.
How do I use turmeric on my joints?
If you’ve decided to give turmeric a try for joint pain, there are many options you can take. Turmeric is available as a spice that can be used in many recipes. You can add turmeric powder to any of your salads, soups or curries for additional flavor, while also enjoying its therapeutic properties. It’s usually a good idea to find recipes heavy in turmeric, as curcumin levels found in the spice can sometimes vary.
Those looking to take exact doses of turmeric will be happy to know the spice is available in supplement form. Turmeric supplements and capsules offer a quick way of adding the spice to your body without having to change your diet. Some of these supplements also feature black pepper and other ingredients that aid the body in absorbing turmeric and curcumin.
How much turmeric should I be using?
It might be hard to decide how much turmeric you should be adding to your diet, since levels of curcumin can vary. The dosage you should be taking can also depend on whether you’re cooking the spice, drinking it as tea or taking it as a supplement. Most reputable sources recommend that 500 milligrams twice a day is a good starting place, but you should always consult with your doctor first.
There are some potential side effects of taking too much turmeric, including the possibility of headaches and rashes. High levels of turmeric have also been known to cause stomach issues as well as diarrhea. The upside is, most people won’t see any side effects at all—you’d likely need to ingest a significant amount of the spice to experience any severe side effects.
Where can I find turmeric?
Turmeric can be found in most supermarkets and other places where spices are sold, but you may have to look a bit harder for the teas and supplements. If you’re interested in finding the turmeric root itself, you may want to check your local Indian or Asian grocery stores. Some large supermarkets have turmeric available in their produce sections, but not always.
Turmeric supplements can be found in a variety of places, including online health stores as well as vitamin shops. It’s important that you research any brand of turmeric supplement you’re planning on buying. The same goes for turmeric teas, which can usually be found online and at local specialty tea shops.
Additional benefits of turmeric
Still wondering if it’s a good idea to add turmeric to your diet? There are a few more benefits worth mentioning.
In addition to anti-inflammatory properties, curcumin can also work as an antioxidant, which helps protect your body from free radical damage. Curcumin has also been shown to increase brain function, which may help prevent diseases of the mind, including depression and Alzheimer’s disease.
For people already taking medication for chronic inflammation and conditions like arthritis, turmeric is another option to help offset the body’s overactive immune system. It’s completely natural and widely studied and a great addition to a daily wellness supplement stack or diet plan. With few to no side effects, it’s definitely worth exploring if you’re sick of aches and pains from an inflammatory condition.