Turmeric, a common spice native to Southeast Asia, has been used for thousands of years not only as a culinary additive, but as a staple in traditional medicine. A component of the spice, curcumin, is thought to be responsible for turmeric’s health benefits, and also contributes to its beautiful orange color. Not only will turmeric’s vibrant color add some beauty to your spice rack, it can also help the reduction of inflammation which is a common denominator in many modern day ailments. Today, there have been more and more studies demonstrating turmeric’s effectiveness on lowering blood pressure, improving skin health, aiding in digestion and GI upset, as well as positively influencing many other health concerns.
In the world of orthopedics, I often find myself recommending turmeric to my patients suffering from arthritis. Patients with arthritis often complain of joint pain, swelling or stiffness and these symptoms can sometimes be very difficult to control or treat. The more common treatment modalities for arthritis include over the counter or prescription NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories) or cortisone injections. Incorporating turmeric into your diet is a less common, but potentially beneficial way to treat arthritis, and I have found myself recommending it to many patients that wish to stray away pharmacological treatment or invasive methods of treatment, like injections or surgery.
Turmeric can be bought in your local grocery store’s spice aisle and when ingested daily, is thought to provide significant relief from inflammatory processes. More research must be done to determine optimal dosing for arthritis, but so far evidence has shown that it is generally safe and worth incorporating into your daily routine. Some may choose to add 1/3 of a teaspoon into a cup of their favorite tea or a glass of water. Some patients do report a strong, “acquired” taste, so some may opt to start small and simply add it into more of their home cooked meals.