Turmeric is a bright yellow herb that has been used in cooking, dyes and Ayurvedic medicine in India and China for 2,000 years. Anecdotal evidence points to its efficacy for the treatment of numerous diseases and conditions, especially those involving inflammation of the soft tissue in arthritis cases, according to the University of Michigan Health System. More recently, turmeric has drawn attention from Western health practitioners for the treatment of arthritis and other musculoskeletal conditions. However, turmeric can cause side effects, specifically thinning of the blood. Consult a practitioner before starting this herbal treatment.
Use turmeric in cases of rheumatoid and osteo arthritis to reduce pain, inflammation and stiffness, according to the University of Michigan Health System, which adds that research has shown it to be superior to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs in relieving inflammation after surgery.
Take turmeric in capsule form rather than as tablets. Tablets are heated, and a stabilizer is added to help them hold their shape. Heating reduces the potency of the herb, whereas capsules are freeze-dried, remaining fresher. The recommended dose is 250 to 500 mg, three times a day.
Combine turmeric with ginger, recommends Dr. Andrew Weil, for added relief of inflammation. Ginger contains anti-inflammatory compounds that reduce swelling and stiffness. Take both herbs together in capsules at the same time, or make a tea, brewing a one-inch piece of each herb in two cups of boiling water for 15 to 30 minutes. Remove the herbs and add honey or stevia to sweeten.
Add the enzyme bromelain to an herbal routine for arthritis to enhance the action of both substances. The University of Maryland Medical Center, or UMMC, points out that although no hard scientific studies support these uses, the anecdotal evidence from Ayurvedic therapy indicates that these two herbs are both effective for the treatment of arthritis pain, and together they are even more potent. Bromelain is available in capsule form.
Take turmeric and other herbs included in an herbal treatment plan for arthritis in between meals, rather than with food to enhance their ability to reduce pain and stiffness due to inflammation. When taken with food, they tend to act more on the digestion rather than on joint tissue.
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Bromelain is an enzyme extracted from pineapples, predominantly from the leaves and skin. Eating pineapples may help reduce arthritis pain, especially when done so while taking turmeric.
Turmeric, bromelain and ginger are all capable of thinning the blood and should only be used under the supervision of a trained health practitioner. Do not combine them with medicines used for thinning the blood, such as coumadin or warfarin.
If bleeding occurs while using these herbs, stop taking them immediately and seek medical attention.