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Turmeric For Pain: Uses and Effects (Doctor Explained)


As a chiropractor and owner of a physical medicine practice, I see patients regularly that struggle with pain. Historically, medical doctors would prescribe over-the-counter medications or prescription painkillers to help patients coming to them with complaints about pain. In recent years, however, there is a very obvious opioid epidemic that has swept across the country. It’s about time we started using turmeric for pain.

Because of the harmful side effects when consumed and the higher likelihood of becoming addicted to these kinds of drugs, physicians like me aren’t prescribing pain meds as often, and people are afraid to take them for fear of becoming addicted. Instead, we’re considering alternatives, like taking turmeric for pain.

I support this move away from meds and often recommend to my patients to try alternative ways to deal with pain instead of medicine. There are a plethora of natural and holistic ways to achieve pain relief with very little if any concern at all for adverse effects. One of the natural remedies that I often recommend is the perennial herb: turmeric. This herb is mostly grown on the continent of Asia and has been used for both medicinal and culinary purposes for centuries.

Below I describe the health benefits of turmeric, how turmeric can help with a variety of pains and how you can implement it into your regimen to help in freeing yourself from conventional synthetic medicines and reap other health benefits too!

Turmeric for Arthritis Pain

Arthritis occurs when there is inflammation and stiffness in the joints of the body. Medical professionals have uncovered over 100 different forms of this chronic condition. It is a disease that is most common in people who are getting older, but it can be found in men, women, and even children of all ages.

The pain that is associated with arthritis can range from mild to moderate to severe. It can progress and worsen over time, or it can stay the same throughout.

Turmeric and its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties have been used as an effective form of treatment for people dealing with arthritis. Recent studies have shown that turmeric is particularly effective at preventing inflammation so turmeric can be a good preventative supplement to take if you think you are at risk for arthritis. In addition, turmeric can also help to keep arthritis symptoms from worsening by blocking the cytokines and enzymes that cause inflammation.

Turmeric for Joint Pain

You don’t necessarily have to be suffering from arthritis to have joint pain. Pain in joints and bones can come about because of an injury or accident or simply from overworking the body during exercise or other activities. However, reports show that turmeric is still just as effective at reducing or eliminating pain altogether if taken in the proper dosage for a limited amount of time.

Turmeric For Pain: Uses and Effects (Doctor Explained)

Turmeric for Pain After Surgery

Any kind of surgery on the body is going to leave you with some amount of pain. Not everyone suffers the same because all pain tolerances are different. Even laparoscopic surgery can leave patients feeling uncomfortable and tired. Some patients can’t complete their daily activities for a month or longer after this seemingly simple surgery.

This may cause people turn to opioid prescriptions to get relief while others are fine with over-the-counter medications or nothing at all. However, the goal for most of us is to avoid opioid prescriptions unless absolutely necessary.

Luckily, turmeric can help to relieve post-surgery pain! A study was done on a group of people that had an operation and afterward were given turmeric for pain relief. The decrease in the pain levels for those that took the supplement versus those that were given a placebo was dramatic, proving that supplementing with turmeric does indeed have pain reducing properties.

Turmeric Side Effects

When taken at the proper dosage for short periods of time, there have been no toxic effects of turmeric reported. However, there are still possible side effects that have occurred including constipation, stomach pain, diarrhea, allergic reaction, vomiting, and nausea. Abnormal heart rhythm was recorded in one case where turmeric was taken by an individual in an extremely high dosage.

There are properties found in turmeric that are known to slow down the body’s ability to clot blood appropriately. Experts recommend that you stop taking the herb at least two weeks ahead of any surgeries that are scheduled. Turmeric also should never be taken by those that are taking blood thinning medication already.

Before you start taking any sort of herbs or supplements, it’s best to discuss your ideas with your preferred medical professional to be sure there aren’t going to be any adverse effects related to current medical conditions or medications you are taking.

A Variety of Other Turmeric Health Benefits

When you are considering a natural approach to your aches and discomforts, the health benefits of turmeric supplements for pain relief make curcumin an excellent option to try. As an added bonus, turmeric has a plethora of other health benefits. Turmeric comes in a yellow powder form and contains over 100 different components that are mostly curcuminoids and volatile oil.

Curcuminoids are what make the turmeric powder yellow, and they are also what give the herb its medicinal benefits. The volatile oil is what gives turmeric its odor and it also has several properties that are bioactive in nature. Somewhere around 90% of curcuminoids are made up of curcumin. Curcumin is what holds the cure for all kinds of different conditions including:

  • Inflammation
  • Indigestion
  • Flatulence
  • Abdominal bloat
  • Appetite loss
  • Bronchitis
  • Colds
  • Respiratory infections
  • Diarrhea
  • Hemorrhaging
  • Fever
  • Cancer
  • Depression
  • Itchy skin
  • High cholesterol

So, turmeric health benefits are pretty much the health benefits of curcumin. Curcumin also has antioxidant benefits that work to fight off damaging free radicals that are found within the body to help strengthen your immune system. Along with providing anti-inflammatory and immune boosting benefits to the body, curcumin is believed to boost the brain-derived neurotrophic factor or BDNF. These neurons are what form new connections in the brain and can improve the functioning of the mind.

So, supplementing with turmeric can help lower the risk of certain brain diseases like Alzheimer’s and other age-related issues in the functioning of the brain. Some believe that turmeric can improve memory and improve focus as well. You may be surprised that there are turmeric benefits for skin, too!

Turmeric: How Much to Take Daily

Part of using turmeric in an effective way is knowing the proper turmeric dosage you need to successfully rid your body of your pain symptoms. The herb usually is prepared in a capsule form, as a tincture, powder or as a fluid extract. The recommended dosage is as follows:

  • Tincture (a mixture of powdered turmeric with alcohol or coconut oil. To make this, use one part turmeric with two parts alcohol or coconut oil) – 15 to 30 drops up to 4 times per day
  • Fluid extract (1:) – 30 to 90 drops a day
  • Powder such as Turmeric Tonic daily
  • Pills: dose of 2 g a day

It is important to know that there is still more research required to determine exactly how to take turmeric for certain conditions. Because of this reason, it is not recommended to take turmeric in high dosages for extended periods of time. The World Health Organization has stated that 1.4 mg of turmeric per pound of body weight on a daily basis is a safe guideline to follow if you do plan to include it in your pain relief treatment plan. Some powders such as Turmeric Tonic can be used on a regular basis, either as a tea or added into your recipes.

In short, turmeric can be an effective, non-addicting pain reliever! Turmeric can help with various kinds of pain as well as provide other anti-inflammatory and immune boosting benefits that can help treat a variety of healthy conditions. While more research needs to be done on turmeric’s uses for pain relief, for right now, it’s safe to say that you can use turmeric as a natural pain reliever. Just remember to follow the proper dosage and do not take high doses for an extended period of time.

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Works Cited

Chronic Pain: Symptoms, Diagnosis, & Treatment. (2011). Retrieved October 2, 2018, from MedlinePlus: https://medlineplus.gov/magazine/issues/spring11/articles/spring11pg5-6.html

Clifford J. Woolf, MB, BCh, PhD. (n.d.). Retrieved October 31, 2018, from Harvard University: https://hsci.harvard.edu/people/clifford-j-woolf-mb-bch-phd

Gupta, S. C., Patchva, S., & Aggarwal, B. B. (2012, November 10). Therapeutic Roles of Curcumin: Lessons Learned from Clinical Trials. Retrieved November 2, 2018, from US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3535097/

Lee, S., Nah, S., Byon, J., Ko, H., Park, S., Lee, S., et al. (2011, July 15). Transient complete atrioventricular block associated with curcumin intake. Retrieved October 31, 2018, from US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19892416

Opioid (Narcotic) Pain Medications. (n.d.). Retrieved October 22, 2018, from WebMD: https://www.webmd.com/pain-management/guide/narcotic-pain-medications#2

The Use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine in the United States. (n.d.). Retrieved September 11, 2018, from National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: https://nccih.nih.gov/research/statistics/2007/camsurvey_fs1.htm

Turmeric. (2016, Decemeber 16). Retrieved November 2, 2018, from National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: https://nccih.nih.gov/health/turmeric/ataglance.htm#hed3

What Is Arthritis? (n.d.). Retrieved November 2, 2018, from Arthritis Foundation: https://www.arthritis.org/about-arthritis/understanding-arthritis/what-is-arthritis.php

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