In my decades of Chinese martial arts training, I have been privy to a lot of instruction on natural healing using herbal treatments both externally and internally. One of my long-time kung fu brothers is himself a practicing physician who regularly advises patients to take natural herbal treatments when there is good evidence of their effectiveness for whatever might be ailing those who come to him.
Since the publication of Treating Arthritis the Natural Way, I have been meaning to put together some articles on natural solutions to various common ailments. As so many folks are afflicted with some degree of arthritic symptoms as they get older (especially athletes, boxers and traditional martial artists who have experienced impact injuries over the years), this seemed a logical place to start…
Turmeric has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine as a treatment for inflammatory disorders including arthritis. On the basis of this traditional usage, dietary supplements containing turmeric rhizome and turmeric extracts are also being used in the western world for arthritis treatment and prevention.
One recent study revealed that highly bioavailable form of curcumin in the herb Turmeric was more effective in alleviating arthritic symptoms, including tenderness and swelling of joints, than the drug. Not only that, those who were taking the curcumin only, actually experienced the most improvement across the board.
Along with relieving the most symptoms, the curcumin group had another benefit – lack of any observed adverse effects. No one in the curcumin group withdrew from the study due to side effects, but 14 percent of those in the NSAID group did so. Researchers noted:
Interestingly, the curcumin group showed the highest percentage of improvement… and these scores were significantly better than the patients in the diclofenac sodium [Voltaren] group. More importantly, curcumin treatment was found to be safe and did not relate with any adverse events.
Our study provides the first evidence for the safety and superiority of curcumin treatment in patients with active arthritis.
Several years back, in 2006, another study also found that turmeric supplements, which contain curcuminoids, profoundly lessened joint inflammation and destruction, presumably by blocking inflammatory pathways and thereby preventing the increased production of a protein that triggers swelling and pain.
Curcumin is most known for its potent anti-inflammatory properties. It has been shown to influence more than 700 genes, and it can inhibit both the excessive activity and the synthesis of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX2) and 5-lipooxygenase (5-LOX), as well as other enzymes that have been implicated in inflammation.
Chemical structures of curcumin (1), demethoxycurcumin (2) and bis-demethoxycurcumin (3).
Tips for Increasing Your Absorption of Curcumin
If you want to give curcumin a try for arthritis, it is widely available in supplement form, but relatively high doses are required to achieve its therapeutic effects, and curcumin is generally not absorbed that well. Typical therapeutic doses are up to three grams of bioavailable curcumin extract, three to four times daily, and this is difficult to achieve using standard curcumin powders.
One alternative is to make a microemulsion by combining a tablespoon of curcumin powder with 1-2 egg yolks and a teaspoon or two of melted coconut oil. Then use a hand blender on high speed to emulsify the powder.
Another strategy you can use to increase absorption is to put one tablespoon of the curcumin powder into a quart of boiling water. It must be boiling when you add the powder, as it will not work as well if you put it in room temperature water and heat the water and curcumin together.
After boiling it for 10 minutes you will have created a 12% solution and you can drink this once it has cooled down. The curcumin will gradually fall out of the solution over time and in about six hours it will be a 6% solution, so it is best to drink the water within four hours. It does have a woody taste, but this is done more for therapeutic benefits than flavor.
Source: Political Blindspot