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Curcumin Relieves Symptoms of Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is characterized by progressive, degenerative changes in cartilage structure. The proteoglycans break down, losing their ability to form tight clusters. The water content of cartilage increases. Chondroitin sulfate shortens in length. Cartilage loses the ability to repair itself and develops clefts and crevices that eventually extend down to the underlying bone. The end result is weak, stiff, and deformed joints.

In Ayurvedic medicine (traditional Indian medicine), turmeric rhizome has been used for centuries internally as a tonic for the stomach and liver and as a blood purifier. It has also been used externally in the treatment and prevention of skin diseases and in arthritic complaints. Curcumin is a component of turmeric. The laboratory and clinical research indicates that turmeric and its phenolics have unique antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. The anti-inflammatory strength of turmeric is comparable to steroidal drugs such as indomethacin. Turmeric has been reported to be anti-rheumatic, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant.

A study published in the journal Alternative Medicine Review sought to evaluate the clinical efficacy and safety of curcumin as an anti-inflammatory agent. The study included 100 patients with osteoarthritis who received either non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAIDs) drugs alone or a supplement containing 20 percent natural curcuminoid mixture, 40 percent phosphatidylcholine, and 40 percent microcrystalline cellulose plus NSAIDs. Researchers followed the participants for eight months and found changes in the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities (WOMAC) score, used to measure the osteoarthritis variables, decreased from 80.6 to 33.2 in patients receiving NSAIDs plus the curcumin supplement. Researchers also reported that WOMAC scores for pain decreased by 9.3 points, while no change was observed in the control group. Stiffness decreased from 7.4 to 3.2, with no significant changes in the control group. These findings suggest that curcumin may be a beneficial long-term therapy approach for people suffering with osteoarthritis.1


1 Appendino G, Belcaro G, Cesarone MR, et al. Efficacy and safety of Meriva, a curcumin-phosphatidylcholine complex, during extended administration in osteoarthritis patients. Altern Med Rev. Dec2010;15(4):337-44.

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This article was published on 02/11/2011 11:17.
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