Turmeric – the main spice in curry – can help reduce the pain and stiffness of osteoarthritis of the knee.
Turmeric comes from the root of a plant in the ginger family, curcuma longa, and contains a chemical compound, curcumin, which has long been used in traditional Chinese and Indian medicine.
In a 12-week randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, researchers showed 70 people with symptomatic osteoarthritis of the knee to either take two capsules twice a day to extract a curcuma longa or a similar-looking placebo. Gave two capsules.
Studies in the Annals of Internal Medicine measured knee pain and function with periodic clinic visits and self-administered questionnaires. Using an MRI scan, the researchers examined the knees for the presence of excess fluid in the synovial cavity, which is associated with joint swelling, stiffness, and pain.
They found that pain, stiffness, and physical activity were significantly improved compared to those who took curcumin extract compared to those using placebo. But there was no difference between the groups in MRI evaluation of excess fluid in the synovial cavity, and there was no difference in the cartilage structure of the knee.
The lead author, Benny Antony, a senior researcher at the University of Tasmania, acknowledged that this is a small study of short duration, and that the effect on pain was only moderate.
Nevertheless, he added, “Given the limited effectiveness of current pharmacological treatments for osteoarthritis, a minor effect may be helpful, and turmeric appears to be without side effects.”