Curcumin for Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis

turmeric arthritis inflammation

Turmeric helps reduce arthritis inflammation.

Researchers have established that the turmeric root extract curcumin reduces pain, tenderness and swelling of osteoarthritis. It also helps rheumatoid arthritis more than the arthritis prescription drug diclofenac sodium.

Osteoarthritis treated by curcumin

In a 2018 study, researchers tested 201 patients with osteoarthritis. They were aged 40 to 70 years old. The researchers split the patients into groups. Some were given a placebo and others were given 500 milligrams of curcumin three times per day for 12 weeks. A third group was tested with a combination of curcumin and boswellic acids – from the Ayurvedic herb, boswellia.

After the 12 weeks, the researchers found that the curcumin supplement significantly improved osteoarthritis symptoms among the patients. The curcumin supplement reduced symptoms by over five points on the WOMAC osteoarthritis total index, compared to those taking the placebo. They also had significantly reduced joint pain and less morning stiffness compared to the placebo group.

The curcumin group also had better results than the curcumin/boswellia group.

A 2018 review of research on curcumin and boswellia for osteoarthritis investigated other research on these two herbal extracts, The researchers, from the Tufts Medical Center, found 11 randomized studies that tested the combination with osteoarthritis. The researchers found that the combination showed success for reducing osteoarthritis symptoms. They compared the effects of the treatments to those of NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). We should add that NSAIDS also typically have a number of side effects. The researchers also found that the curcumin and boswellia treatments were safe. They also suggested that more research is conducted.. We note from the previous study that curcumin improved osteoarthritis symptoms better than the curcumin-boswellia combination.

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Curcumin studied with rheumatoid arthritis

The research tested 45 randomized patients diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. The patients took either 500 milligrams of curcumin twice per day, 50 milligrams of diclofenac sodium twice per day, or both.

After eight weeks, the patients in the curcumin-alone group scored higher on Disease Activity Scores, and had the same or higher reductions in joint tenderness and swelling scores than the other groups. Joint tenderness and swelling symptoms were qualified under the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) standards.

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The curcumin patients also reported no adverse side effects during the treatment period. Meanwhile, 14% of the diclofenac sodium patients had to withdraw from the study due to adverse side effects.

“Our study provides the first evidence for the safety and superiority of curcumin treatment in patients with active rheumatoid arthritis,” the researchers concluded.

Arthritis now affects about 21 million people in the United States according to the Centers of Disease Control. This number is expected to triple within the next two decades, despite numerous arthritis drugs. Arthritis is a leading cause of disability.

Research has also found that turmeric reduces Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease symptoms.


Haroyan A, Mukuchyan V, Mkrtchyan N, Minasyan N, Gasparyan S, Sargsyan A, Narimanyan M, Hovhannisyan A. Efficacy and safety of curcumin in osteoarthritis: a comparative, randomized, double-blind,
placebo-controlled study. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2018 Jan 9;18(1):7. doi:10.1186/s12906-017-2062-z.

Bannuru RR, Osani MC, Al-Eid F, Wang C. Efficacy of curcumin and Boswellia for knee osteoarthritis: Systematic review and meta-analysis. Semin Arthritis Rheum. 2018 Mar 10. pii: S0049-0172(18)30002-7. doi: 10.1016/j.semarthrit.2018.03.001.

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Chandran B, Goel A. A Randomized, Pilot Study to Assess the Efficacy and Safety of Curcumin in Patients with Active Rheumatoid Arthritis. Phytother Res. 2012 Mar 9. doi: 10.1002/ptr.4639.



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