Indian spice turmeric shown to help rheumatoid arthritis

Credit: Morguefile

Researchers have been exploring the anti-inflammatory and safety profile of curcumin, the compound in the Indian spice turmeric for treating RA, finding the spice can help patients improve symptoms of the disease significantly.

Curcumin compared to drug therapy alone
Finding ways to manage pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis can be challenging, especially when you consider side effects of prescription drugs.

For their study, researchers compared curcumin in turmeric to prescription drugs. 

Authors for the study say their finding, "…provides the first evidence for the safety and superiority of curcumin treatment in patients with active RA [rheumatoid arthritis]." 

For the study, three groups of patients were assigned to receive either 500 mg. of curcumin daily, 50 mg diclofenac sodium daily  (brand name Voltaren, among others), or both curcumin and diclofenac.

Patients with rheumatoid arthritis who were given curcumin experienced the most significant improvement in Disease Activity Score (DAS) 28 scores that is a guide used for research and treatment response.

Patients who took curcumin had no adverse side effects and also experience greater improvement based on American College of Rheumatology (ACR) criteria that includes evaluation of joint swelling and tenderness, lab results and symptoms.

Recent findings suggest curcumin in turmeric helps with treatment of rheumatoid arthritis because it suppresses activity of B cell-activating factor (BAFF), an amino acid that stimulates the immune system.

Rheumatoid arthritis is thought to be an autoimmune disease. High levels of BAFF are linked to several autoimmune diseases.

Curcumin in turmeric can be added to food or taken as a supplement, but speak with your doctor before you add any treatment.

The new finding shows the Indian spice curcumin, found in turmeric, can significantly help patients with rheumatoid arthritis manage symptoms of the disease that affects approximately 1 percent of people in the United States and is more common in women than men.


Chandran B, Goel A.

“A randomized, pilot study to assess the efficacy and safety of curcumin in patients with active rheumatoid arthritis.”

2012 Nov; 26(11): 1719-25