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Curcumin does it work for arthritis? How to take and the best supplement?

This is our first article in a supplement series where we look objectively at what we know about a particular supplement and what effects this has on the body. We will form our opinion on whether it is worth taking and what products seem the best overall. All this information is for educational purposes only, you should always seek medical advice before taking any supplements.

The first supplement we are going to be discussing is Curcumin and why we think it is potentially a good supplement for people suffering from Osteoarthritis (OA). The studies I feature mainly looked at knee osteoarthritis, but as some other effects of Curcumin have been shown to have systemic effects, it may help other areas of the body that are affected by OA as well.

We think people who could consider supplementing with Curcumin would be:

People who play a lot of high impact sports: especially ones who do repetitive movements, high impact activities and have pain as a result

Manual workers: once again, people with repetitive movement over long periods.

Seniors: people from this group typically suffer from common diseases related to ageing, such as rheumatoid arthritis or Osteoarthritis.

People who are overweight: typically experience pain in joints such as their knees due to the added stress associated with weight gain. People in this category may also suffer from Osteoarthritis due to metabolic changes.

Studies in these first two groups are limited; the latter are more numerous.

Curcumin is relatively safe but in some circumstances due to medication, or particular conditions might not be advisable, so we would always recommend you go speak your GP before you take any supplement.

A distinction I need first to make is between Turmeric and Curcumin. This is due to most of the research I have found looks more specifically at Curcumin. So we will be discussing this component in this article, and concerning its benefits, side effects etc.

So Curcumin is a component of Turmeric. It is a yellow pigment found primarily in Turmeric, a flowering plant of the ginger family. We usually associate it with a spice we put in curry.

It seems to have an inhibitory effect on cyclooxygenase, which is involved in inflammation. So this means it seems to lower inflammation, a similar action to Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory drugs have. These are medication like ibuprofen.

Therefore Curcumin is extracted from Turmeric to produce a high potency supplement. The problem is that Curcumin is absorbed poorly by the body, there are a few different supplements that have been created to improve its bioavailability (how much your body absorbs) by combining it with different substances. There is no point taking loads of Curcumin if we do not absorb any of it.

What is the research – What benefits do they suggest?

 (Research has reliably shown that Curcumin reduces markers of inflammation and reduces pain and improves function in Osteoarthritis. Just a note, we did find research that found benefits in antioxidants levels in the body, minor positive effects on depression and anxiety, but we can always go into more detail in another video.

One of the best studies I found was conducted in 2010. The researchers took 100 people with OA and split them into two groups.  One group was given a supplement called Meriva.

Meriva is a patented substance that puts a fatty layer of sunflower phospholipids around the Curcumin. This is to make sure it is transported into the cell. It has been proven to increase the absorption rates of Curcumin.

They used a questionnaire (WOMAC), which is used widely in the evaluation of hip and knee OA. It is a self-administered questionnaire of 3 areas,

Pain, Stiffness, Physical Function, which also has sub-sections, 24 areas in total. They also measured two markers of inflammation (IL-6 and IL-1b) that are linked in the development of Osteoarthritis.

The results found statistically significant reductions in those pain scales I just mentioned. Also, they had a 27% reduction in one inflammation marker (IL-6) and 65% in another (IL-1b).

These participants were given Meriva over 8 months with little side effects. They also limited things like NSAIDS usage (therefore GI complications went down, as this can be a side effect of these medications), hospital admissions and swelling among other factors.

There are many other studies we found that support that Curcumin is effective for OA. We have listed these in the featured studies.

How to supplement

Now people might think, as there are benefits to Turmeric why not just take this as it contains Curcumin. Unfortunately, to get the amount that is needed that the researchers found effective. You would need to take five teaspoons of Turmeric. We think that is a lot, and we would not fancy taking as much as that. Especially considering that you are unlikely to absorb a lot of it anyway,  as we mentioned before the body poorly absorbs Turmeric.

We did many hours of reading and listening to different experts with the effort of finding the best products that would improve curcumin absorption rates. It was difficult, as there are so many supplements with their own patented formula. Now the research would suggest that the Curcumin needs to be surrounded by a fatty layer. This is so you can absorb it properly through your gut wall and into the cell.

The most popular one on the market is combining Curcumin with Bioperine (black pepper extract). The hypothesis behind this is that it works by bypassing the part of the liver screening. The liver is doing this all the time, allowing safe substances to enter the bloodstream, and keeping harmful ones out. We listened to a nutritionist called Thomas Delauer, who said that this might not be advisable as we may also over absorb other substances you might not want to, i.e. if you are on a particular medication and do not want to absorb too much of it. Therefore we found that if you take it with a structure called a lysosome and a micelle, this would seem to be an effective and safe way to go.

So after considering the research, we looked for a product based on price, bioavailability, also a combination of Curcumin with lyposome and micelle, and not containing the biopeprine. We found a product by a company called Nu U nutrition. It comes in a liquid capsule form. You can click here if you would like to purchase this product. It is £20 for two months worth, which we think is very reasonable. They recommend taking one capsule a day (we are not sponsored by this company in any way). 

We hope you have found this useful. This will be the first in our joint supplement series. Please let us know if you decide to try this supplement and how you get on.

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