Turmeric, the flavoring and coloring spice derived from the root of Curcuma longa, has been used for centuries as a food and a medicine in Indian and Southeast Asian cultures. It is one of the dominant ingredients in red curry sauces.The study of herbs for rheumatoid arthritis is an area of research still in its infancy.Turmeric is traditionally believed to have tonic (strengthening) and carminative (gas-relieving) properties. Curcumin, one of the primary constituents of turmeric, has been investigated as a potential anti-inflammatory agent. Curcumin has been found to be a rather potent inhibitor of inflammation in animal tests, affecting the production of both prostaglandins and leukotrienes. It is this finding that is the primary basis for the belief that turmeric may be effective in rheumatoid arthritis. However, it is a long step from animal and test tube studies to results in people. There is not really any direct evidence as yet that turmeric or curcumin are effective for rheumatoid arthritis.
What Is the Scientific Evidence for Curcumin?There has been one small double-blind study of curcumin for rheumatoid arthritis. This study was designed to compare the effectiveness of curcumin and the older NSAID drug phenylbutazone. Phenylbutazone proved to be more effective.Nonetheless, symptoms improved in the curcumin group as well. For this reason, this study is often incorrectly cited as evidence that curcumin is an effective treatment for rheumatoid arthritis. It actually doesn’t prove anything of the land. The benefits seen in the curcumin group could simply have been due to the power of suggestion, which can be counted on to produce some effects even with a completely worthless treatment. We really need double-blind studies that compare curcumin to placebo to know whether it is truly effective. Still, curcumin is widely used in India as a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, and physicians there report that it appears to be effective.
DosageFor the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, a commonly recommended dosage of curcumin is 400 mg 3 times a day. You would need to take 8 g of ordinary turmeric a day to get that much of curcumin, but products that contain nearly pure curcumin are available.
Safety IssuesTurmeric is a common spice that has been consumed in large dosages over long periods of time by millions of people. It is on the GRAS (Generally Regarded as Safe) list published by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. However, concentrated curcumin products may present presently unrecognized risks. Safety in young children, pregnant or nursing women, or those with severe liver or kidney disease has definitely not been established.*72/306/5*

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