While anti-inflammatories are certainly important, both the over-the-counter and prescription varieties come with risks, including gastrointestinal distress, kidney problems and cardiovascular risks. Long-term and/or heavy use is, therefore, potentially unsafe.
Fortunately, nature has provided us with many anti-inflammatory substances that come with fewer risks and even make our food taste better. One such ingredient is turmeric, the bright orange spice featured in South Asian food.
Turmeric contains curcumin, a very powerful anti-inflammatory substance. While not the most-studied anti-inflammatory, one small study found turmeric use to be about as helpful as ibuprofen in patients with osteoarthritis. People with chronic pain may benefit from the use of this spice daily and, given the relatively few risks involved, it may be worth a shot.
Ways to Consume
Turmeric can be purchased in several forms: root, powder and capsule.
The turmeric root may be grated and added to eggs, stir-fries, rice, curries and other foods for color, flavor and anti-inflammatory goodness. It can also be juiced – enhance the effects by juicing it with fresh ginger root. This may not be the tastiest thing you’ve ever drank, but it’s a good way to pack in a powerful dose of anti-inflammatories in one shot. You can also make a tea of the root.
Turmeric powder can be used in ways similar to the root. Sprinkle it on foods, or boil it for ten minutes, then strain for a tea.
Finally, some people may prefer to take the spice in pill form, particularly if they don’t like the taste or don’t enjoy cooking.
See umm.edu for dosing information for different forms of turmeric.
While generally safer than pharmaceuticals, there are some safety points people should note before consuming turmeric on a daily basis. First, it can prevent blood clotting in some people; this is believed to be of concern only to people who are undergoing surgery soon or who take blood-thinning medications.
Turmeric may bother people with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and it shouldn’t be used by people with gallstones. Medicinal use by pregnant or breastfeeding women is not believed to be safe.
For more on the available research into turmeric, see www.nlm.nih.gov.
Add some color, flavor and pain relief to your daily diet with turmeric. For most with chronic pain, this natural anti-inflammatory is well worth a try.