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Turmeric for Osteoarthritis

Turmeric - What You Need to Know


Updated April 02, 2012

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a perennial shrub that grows 5 to 6 feet tall, primarily in India and Indonesia, though it grows in other tropical regions too. Turmeric is characteristically fragrant but bitter to taste. Turmeric roots are dried to a yellow powder where it is used in foods, fabric dye, and for medicinal purposes.

How Turmeric Works

Turmeric reportedly has the ability to reduce inflammation. It is presumed that because of the anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric, it may help relieve symptoms of osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and other inflammatory conditions such as bursitis.

Researchers stop short of recommending turmeric for medical conditions, though, because so few clinical trials have been conducted. Preliminary studies suggest that the anti-inflammatory effects are derived from curcumin, a chemical found in turmeric.

Availability of Turmeric

Despite the lack of evidence to support its use, some people are interested in turmeric. It is available in powder-containing capsules (400-600 mg/ 3 times a day), fluid extract, and tincture.

Precautions and Warnings for Turmeric

Turmeric is considered safe when found in foods or at recommended doses. Large doses of turmeric have been associated with stomach upset and ulcers. People with gallbladder disease, bile duct obstruction, or diabetes are urged to discuss turmeric with a doctor before taking it.

You should not use turmeric as a supplement if you take drugs that:

  • act as blood thinners
  • reduce stomach acid
  • lower blood sugar

Bottom Line

Discuss turmeric with your doctor before using the supplement. Go over all of your medications and supplements, and decide together if the benefit outweighs the risk.

Read more: Turmeric for Arthritis, from our Alternative Medicine Guide, Cathy Wong


Turmeric. University of Maryland Medical Center. Accessed 12/31/2009.

Turmeric. NCCAM. June 2008.

Primer on the Rheumatic Diseases. Supplements. Arthritis Foundation. Thirteenth Edition.

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