Arthritis and Turmeric

11 Fantastic Benefits of Turmeric for Knee and Ankle Arthritis

What is turmeric?

Turmeric comes from an herbaceous plant belonging to the ginger family. Used in a number of dishes in Indian cuisine it is sometimes called the magical spice as the benefits it offers to disease prevention and treatment are plenty.

It possesses antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and can also fight off invading pathogens through its microbial killing activities. Some researchers consider it to be the most effective nutritional supplement in existence due to its ability to regulate the body’s immune functions.

11 Fantastic Benefits of Turmeric for Knee and Ankle Arthritis

Considering the several benefits of turmeric, researchers attempted to use it as a therapeutic agent for arthritis treatment. Here, we explore some of the factors associated with turmeric and curcumin, a yellow colored compound derived from turmeric, and their healing properties in arthritis along with suitable scientific evidence:

1. Turmeric naturally elevates antioxidant defenses

Free radicles are harmful chemicals found in our body in an unbound state. These are kept in check by antioxidant compounds.

If the rate of build-up of free radicles exceeds the rate of their elimination a toxic condition known as oxidative stress takes place.

The ability of turmeric to relieve oxidative stress have been studied using various animal models. One such study attempted to understand the effectiveness of supplements like curcumin and avocado-soya bean extracts in relieving pain and oxidative stress related to osteoarthritis.

Overcoming several drawbacks to the research, the study was able to validate through several sources that such natural supplements yield positive results in osteoarthritis treatment and also provide a low-cost alternative to conventional expensive medical treatment.

What does this mean?
It can be implied from this study that turmeric could be potentially used in arthritis treatment to eradicate harmful free radicles. It reduces oxidative stress and improves cell viability.

2. It protects the heart from arthritis complications

Atherogenesis refers to the build-up of fatty tissues in the arteries. It is a common phenomenon causing loss of mobility and damage of tissues in rheumatoid arthritis patients.

In a study published in the International Journal of Rheumatoid Diseases, the effect of a ginger-turmeric rhizome powder is preventing atherosclerosis is studied through an animal model.

It was seen that the compound, especially at high doses has several beneficial effects when compared to indomethacin (a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug).

Turmeric brings about biochemical changes at a tissue level as was analysed through several enzymatic markers.
By regulating oxidative stress levels and enzyme activity, turmeric extracts prevent atherosclerosis in rheumatoid arthritis.

What does this mean?
Turmeric extracts can prevent the build-up fatty tissues in the arteries of rheumatoid arthritis patients thereby preventing the pain and loss of function this action entails.

3. Turmeric relieves inflammation

Inflammation is one of the chief influencers of joint pain and swelling. It takes place due to the body’s attempts to repair damage at a particular site.

In another study carried out using an animal model, turmeric was introduced into their regular diets. Its effects were studied against those of ginger and indomethacin (a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug).

It was seen that turmeric was capable of moderating the activity of immune cells like anti-inflammatory and pro-inflammatory cytokines. Coupled with the antioxidant effect of the compound, it brought about positive effects at damaged sites.

It was seen that the introduction of turmeric decreased inflammation and in turn improved limb motility. It showed better therapeutic action than ginger and indomethacin.

What does this mean?
The use of turmeric provides a potential remedy for arthritis induced inflammation. It lowers swelling and enables better movement and functioning of the joints.

4. It relieves pain in knee and ankle arthritis

Arthritis is often accompanied by severe pain caused due to damage of tissue. Turmeric is believed to have the ability to relieve such conditions.

Through a series of in vitro and in vivo studies on arthritis effected rats it was observed that turmeric displayed unique analgesic effects. This decreased swelling at the site along with protecting the tissues from damage.

Yimam et al analysed pain resistance capacities and swelling suppression parameters in the above study and found that along with producing beneficial results, the extent of the potency of the compound was comparable to that of Ibuprofen, a commonly used nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID).

What does this mean?
Turmeric has several pain relieving effects on sites effected by damage. It acts as an analgesic and alleviates discomfort of the joint.

5. Turmeric has anti-arthritic property

There are two major classes of biologically significant compounds that can be derived from turmeric- curcuminoids and essential oils, both anti-arthritic in nature.

Several literature surveys and analysis of publications have indicated that curcumin in its purified form has anti-arthritic properties.

A small test study in humans also showed that curcumin possessed the ability to lower symptoms of arthritis upon its administration.

However, further chemical analysis and research are required to understand fully the extent to which this compound can delay the onset or lessen the impact of the disease.

What does this mean?
Curcuminoids and essential oils derived from turmeric can prevent and reverse arthritis progression and the swelling it induces. Therefore, it can be used in rheumatoid arthritis treatment.

6. It regulates immune responses in arthritis

Curcumin, a yellow polyphenolic compound present in turmeric has been scientifically proven to be able to control immune cell activity.

This is particularly useful in arthritis treatment as this means it can lessen the impact of autoimmune processes such as inflammation at knee and ankle joints.

Kurien BT and colleagues showed that this compound on heating could redirect harmful autoantibodies thus preventing flare-ups which are commonly associated with many painful and complex chronic disorders.

These findings confirmed the results of a 2007, Journal of Clinical Immunology study which emphasized on how curcumin administration affected immune cells like T cells, B cells, macrophages, neutrophils, and natural killer cells.

It also down regulated the action of pro-inflammatory cytokines.

What does this mean?
Through moderation of immune cells and autoantibodies, curcumin exerts immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory effects that can protect the knees and ankles from arthritis related deterioration.

7. It blocks the progression of arthritis

Loss of function at joint sites and inflammation are two of the chief influencers of Rheumatoid Arthritis.

In order to examine how curcumin administration could aid such conditions, Joong et al attempted to gain knowledge of the metabolites released in the body and their activities on curcumin administration.

It was seen that curcumin hindered the progression of the disease by blocking inflammation promoting cell activities.

What does this mean?
Curcumin controls cell activities that activate inflammatory markers of rheumatoid arthritis. This makes it a useful agent in genetically regulated forms of the disorder.

8. Turmeric acts on a genetic level to relieve arthritis

Curcumin is believed to be able to regulate molecular mechanisms and dynamics in cells. As such, it has been used to treat a multitude of diseases of various types and origins.

A study published in BioFactors in 2013 elucidated on the routes through which curcumin is able to bring about such effects.

An overview of the many important compounds curcumin can interact with includes inflammatory cytokines (e.g., TNF, IL-1), growth factors and their receptors, enzymes like COX-2,LOX) and apoptosis (cell death) related proteins.

Another study emphasized on the ability of the compound to halt disease-related gene sequences at all critical steps through enzymatic regulations. It affects transcription factors, it can arrest the cell cycle and also induce cell death.

What does this mean?
Curcumin in turmeric possesses genetic signal regulating agents. It monitors cell activity it useful in arthritis therapy.

9. Turmeric protects from infections in arthritis

Several forms of arthritis are brought about by infections through harmful pathogens. Turmeric has bactericidal and fungicidal effects which come in handy in these situations.

It is most effective against the bacterial strains of Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli. However, it is also effective against Salmonella typhi and Candida albicans species as well.

By preventing the growth of the microbes it provides a suitable means of protection from infectious forms of arthritis like septic arthritis.

What does this mean?
Turmeric can be exploited by the pharmaceutical industry to protect against and treat septic arthritis. It heals such problems by eliminating pathogenic microbes from the knees and ankle joints.

10. It protects stomach health in arthritis

Studies have indicated that buildup of harmful microbes in the intestine plays a role in the flare-ups related to rheumatoid arthritis. Some of these organisms include Prevotellacopri and Bartonella.

Turmeric extracts are known for their abilities in treating digestive disorders. This is due to their ability to eliminate harmful microbes while restoring the healthy tissue to the intestine.

Through an animal model, turmeric and ginger were established to be useful in treating ulcers caused by gastric damage.

This can be attributed to the antioxidant effects of the compound. It regulated enzymes such as catalase and glutathione (GSH) to restore gut health.

Through anti-inflammatory effects, it relieves pain while balancing out the aggressive (damaging) and defensive (protecting) chemicals in our intestine.

Another animal model study showed that hot water extracts of turmeric and sembung leaf could reduce the number, size and intensity of gastric ulcers.

Therefore, by introducing turmeric into our diets we would eliminate harmful gut and intestine microbes that cause swelling and pain in case of arthritis.

What does this mean?
The intestinal cleansing abilities of turmeric are helpful in arthritis treatment as they kill the microbes which cause flare ups in case of Rheumatoid Arthritis.

11. Turmeric protects from side effects of pain killers

Non-steroidal medications are prescribed for arthritis treatment. However, patients who consume these may experience certain unpleasant side effects.

Turmeric and curcumin can protect against such side effects. Numerous studies have been conducted on their use for arthritis treatment individually and in combination with other drugs.

The most beneficial outcomes have been delivered in the models which incorporate turmeric with low doses of non-steroidal drugs.

By modulating biochemical pathways and inflammatory cytokines turmeric shelters the body cells from any unwanted harm the prescription drugs may pose.

This makes it an efficient and safe remedy and suggests that it may be useful for long term treatment as has been validated by many clinical trials.

What does this mean?
Tumeric or curcumin supplements along with over the counter drugs have proven to be the most efficient in healing arthritis condition. This natural compound also shields against harmful side effects of prescription medicines.

Dosage of Turmeric For Knee and Ankle Arthritis

For healing knee and ankle arthritis, it is recommended to consume the herb in the form of Turmeric milk or turmeric tea.

Golden paste combines turmeric with black pepper to aid absorption by the body.

There is no specific optimal dosage. It varies from person to person based on what suits them. Starting with a low dose is advised to avoid gastric side effects.

Start with small doses such as ¼-1/2 tsp a day for a week and if no gastric side effects are seen increase gradually by ¼-1/2 tsp every week.

The recommended dose is 1-2 tsp 2-3 times a day (precisely 1 tsp 3 times a day).

You can find the recipe for Golden Paste here. You can also make Golden Paste from fresh roots.

Avoid taking on an empty stomach and if taking large doses avoid taking it the same time of taking medications. (Read Does Turmeric cause acid reflux? Black pepper in GP: Does it cause drug interaction?)

Some good brands to purchase are mentioned in our recommendations of organic turmeric brands.

If taking turmeric supplements consult a health practitioner prior.


Despite the multiple benefits turmeric has to offer, it is best to seek the advice of a medical professional before beginning its use as a supplement.

Large dosages are sometimes linked to acid reflux. Its use is not advisable on an empty stomach.

Turmeric as spice must be taken in limited quantities if suffering from gut and kidney stones. (Is turmeric safe in gout? Does turmeric cause kidney stone?)

Turmeric has an anti-platelet property and hence turmeric supplements should be avoided if suffering from bleeding risks. You may consult a doctor before taking turmeric in this case. (Is turmeric a blood thinner?)

Curcumin interferes with drug metabolism enzymes and hence should not be taken concomitantly with any medication.


Turmeric and curcumin have been used for years due to their beneficial impacts on human health. They are active ingredients of many food items and also add a spicy flavour to food.

Since they are closely connected to immune cell activity and cell signal regulation, they could be a promising therapeutic agent in arthritis patients.

Also, it can naturally combat pain and inflammation, making it an effective adjunctive therapy in arthritis.


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