How does turmeric alleviate pain?
Turmeric, one of the main spices in our Jamu, is arguably the most powerful herb on the planet! It has so many healing properties that currently there have been 6,235 peer-reviewed articles published proving the benefits of turmeric and one of its renowned healing compounds curcumin.
Some of the most interesting findings compare turmeric to conventional medicine and its benefits equal that of many pharmaceutical medications.
In fact, a number of studies have even reported that using curcumin is more advantageous than certain prescription drugs. This is such great news! As a nation we are totally addicted to painkillers! I used to be too. When I first started experiencing arthritis symptoms my doctor prescribed traditional anti-inflammatory medications. These worked really well at blocking the pain, however they can have a really bad effect on your stomach and kidney if taken for long periods of time so I was looking for something else to help manage pain, without the side effects.
I had started taking curcumin tablets and found them to be helpful. After learning to make Jamu on a trip to Bali I found this way of taking turmeric to be easier and actually enjoyable compared to taking more pills everyday and my arthritis symptoms continue to be managed well after 3 years! In fact I think I may have only taken traditional anti-inflammatories once or twice in that time!
Why is turmeric such a good natural pain relief?
1. Very few side effects in comparison with most pharmaceutical medications – have you ever read the product disclosures on these medications? Its frightening reading and Australians pop them like candy! Ibuprofen overdose is very common and has serious and often irreversible side effects. Very few people report side effects to turmeric consumption (unless consumed in very large quantities) and the beauty of taking some every day in Jamu is that its a lot more difficult than a pill to have too much! You should always chat to your medical professional -but mine were totally supportive of finding ways to reduce my traditional pain medications.
2. Many studies showed same or even better pain reducing effect! One study found that the curcumin in turmeric activates the opioid response – this is a natural pain relieving response by the body that turmeric supports!
I’ve tried a lot of different natural products over the years – it can take time to find what works for you and everyone is individual (and some didn’t work for me). As a scientist myself, over 6000 scientific peer reviewed studies is good enough for me to give turmeric a go! Many medications don’t make it to market with that much scrutiny. When examining the research, turmeric benefits go beyond that of these drugs:
• Anti-inflammatory drugs
• Anti-coagulants (Aspirin)
• Pain killers
• Arthritis medications
• Inflammatory bowel disease drugs
We aren’t suggesting if you are taking any of these types of drugs to just throw them away. Turmeric can support these treatments and help you reduce intake of some medications over time – that’s how I started. I found the curcumin was helping so I took less prescribed anti-inflammatories until I wasn’t taking them anymore. This took me about 2 months to reduce to that level.
3. One of the best anti-inflammatories around. Inflammation – it’s the new enemy right up there with oxidation of our cells. It’s the root cause of just about every disease process that can happen to us! That’s why we are so passionate about everyone having a little turmeric everyday. You can manage so many diseases by managing the inflammation in your body– you will never be without your turmeric again! Many pharmacy anti-inflammatories only treat the symptoms of inflammation for a short time but turmeric helps control the pathways in your body that produce inflammation.
4. Manages arthritis – don’t just take my word for it! Common arthritis medications have side effects such as increasing risk of heart disease and leaky gut (no thanks!) Studies have shown that turmeric and curcumin benefits to not only reduce inflammation but other pain pathways without the side effects!
5. Anti-oxidants protect and heal your blood vessels – yep! Turmeric has the double wammy of anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatories and these anti-oxidants have been shown to protect and heal cells such as blood vessels which can cause pain and lead to disease.
6. It helps reduce the pain for diseases where steroids are often prescribed such as inflammatory bowle disease, Crohns, Ulcerative colitis, not to mention skin conditions– in depth studies found many patients using turmeric were able to stop or reduce the use of steroid treatments! Some studies may only show a comparable benefit to steroids but the greatest advantage is the lack of side-effects compared to steroids which are not recommended for long term use.
Turmeric Side Effects
Very high doses of turmeric have been observed to cause:
• Increased risk of bleeding
• Increased liver function tests
• Hyperactive gallbladder contractions
• Hypotension (lowered blood pressure)
• Uterine contractions in pregnant women
• Increased menstrual flow
People taking certain medications should also be careful when using turmeric as it may interfere with anti-coagulants like aspirin. It also can affect medications such as non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs. As with any herb or supplement, use as directed.
Photo credit: Turmeric Back Pain Tonic – Live Love Fruit