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Harvard Health Blog
Curcumin for arthritis: Does it really work?
- By Robert H. Shmerling, MD, Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing
As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.
There are thousands of publications in reputable scientific journals on the anti-inflammatory effects of curcumin. For it(or turmeric, from which curcumin is derived) to be effective, it must be taken with black Pepper(to make its bio-availability effective) and with some oïl or fat since it is hydro-phobic and does not dissolve in an aqueous medium. Ideally , it should be taken with cold-pressed Virgin olive oïl which itself has strong anti-inflammatory properties. To really observe its effect on osteo-arthritis , one needs a few months of turmeric+black Pepper+Olive oïl ,preferably in your cooking or salads etc.
The most important limitation of this study, which was not mentioned in the commentary, was that there was not a placebo control group. Without such a control we can’t be sure that either treatment was actually better than placebo. This isn’t just a theoretical concern–there are numerous instances of studies comparing two supposedly “active” compounds against a placebo control where it was found that although both active compounds were equally effective, neither was better than placebo. In such studies, of course, it is important that participants need to be “blinded” to the treatment condition.
“Over-the-counter dietary supplements (“nutriceuticals”) are not tested or regulated the way prescription drugs are. So, information regarding purity, strength, and potential interaction with other medications or diseases is typically limited for treatments like curcumin. It’s worth noting that reports of lead contamination in turmeric have been recently published.” How many lots of commonly precribed drugs have been recalled in the past couple of years? For contamination during manufacturing, etc? Errors or negligence by compounding pharmacies?
Yes, herbs & spices (used for medicinal purposes) should be regulated, just like vitamin & mineral supplements should be–and regulated WELL, just like prescription/western/conventional medicines whose prices are sky high in the US should be well regulated as well.
Comments re: small size of sample applies to both ‘drugs’, not just curcumin.
I wonder if curcumin could change the color of the skin when it is taken regularlo.
Thanks, for the nice sharing. Really, it is helpful.
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