Turmeric Could be the “Perfect Painkiller”

A 2016 study thoroughly investigated the effectiveness of turmeric as a painkiller, and found that it significantly (and safely!) reduced pain. This conclusive analysis upholds the results of previous studies showing that turmeric can reduce or eliminate pain better than leading prescription drugs.Mortar and pestle with turmeric

Turmeric Found to “Significantly Reduce” Pain

For the study, published by the American Academy of Pain Medicine, the researchers sought to provide the “highest level of evidence” on the pain-relieving effect of turmeric. To do so, they reviewed data from randomized control trials (RCTs) that enrolled patients with painful conditions. They found that turmeric significant reduced pain, and was well-tolerated by all participants in the RCTs.

The researchers concluded that turmeric could be “a safe and effective strategy to improve pain severity.” They also recommended that further studies examine the effects of turmeric over longer periods of time.

Turmeric’s Potent Effect on Inflammation

A previous study published in 2004 in the journal Oncogene found that turmeric reduced inflammation — a key consideration in relieving pain — more effectively than 10 popular non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), including…

  • Aspirin
  • Ibuprofen
  • Naproxen
  • Sulindac
  • Phenylbutazone
  • Diclofenac

Many researchers agree that turmeric’s potent anti-inflammatory effect is the source of not only its pain-killing properties, but its numerous other healing abilities, too.

The Difference Between Turmeric and Curcumin

Much of the research done on turmeric has been focused on one of its compounds: curcumin. In fact, the words “turmeric” and “curcumin” are sometimes used as if they refer to the exact same thing! But curcumin is not the only compound turmeric contains that has profound medicinal benefits.

To determine whether curcumin alone could be responsible for turmeric’s healing abilities, researchers experimented with curcumin-free turmeric (CFT) extracts. They found that CFT extracts had many of the same properties as turmeric, including strong anti-inflammatory effect.  In addition to curcumin, turmeric contains a multitude of compounds shown to reduce inflammation, such as…

  • Turmeroneturmedic powder
  • Elemene
  • Furanodiene
  • Curdione
  • Bisacurone
  • Cyclocurcumin
  • Calebin A
  • Germacrone

Dual Mechanisms Make for a Better Painkiller

Part of what makes turmeric such a powerful pain-fighter is that it has two separate anti-inflammatory actions. Most anti-inflammatories work by either neutralizing inflammation in the body by releasing antioxidants, or by preventing the production of chemicals that cause the inflammation. But turmeric fights inflammation in both those ways, simultaneously!

This dual approach makes it a remarkably effective treatment for aches and pains, far more effective than over-the-counter pain medications, which provide no antioxidant support. Even better, turmeric carries none of the risks associated with NSAIDs and other pain medications.

How to Use Turmeric to Fight Pain

Dr. Minerva Santos, director of integrative medicine at Northern Westchester Hospital, spoke to the New York Times about the use of turmeric as a painkiller. Dr. Santos recommends taking turmeric in pill or capsule form, and beginning with a dose of 1,000 milligrams a day. As always, be sure to consult with a medical practitioner you trust to avoid unforeseen interactions with any supplements or medications you currently take.

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