Monday, May 26, 2014

Can Curry Cure Knee Arthritis?

It sounds like a plot for a silly Bollywood movie, but published data actually supports the idea that one of the key components of curry powder can help alleviate pain for patients with knee arthritis.

Curcumin, a bright yellow spice found in curry powder, recently was found to have the same efficacy as ibuprofen (the active ingredient in Motrin and Advil) for patients with knee arthritis.  In a recently published study of 367 knee arthritis patients, researchers found 1500 mg of Curcuma domestica extract had the same effectiveness in terms of pain reduction as 1200 mg of ibuprofen at four weeks (Kuptnirataikul et al). Importantly, the curcumin treated patients had less episodes of abdominal pain or discomfort compared to the ibuprofen patients.  Importantly, another published study of of the same dosage of curcumin (1500 mg) was found to have significant improvements in terms of pain and physical function when compared to placebo at six weeks (Panahi et al).   Curcumin has been noted to block several substances involved in the inflammatory pathway and also inhibits activation of free radicals.  This could help explain why the spice works to reduce pain in arthritis patients.  

So next time your knee starts to hurt, put down the ibuprofen and hobble over to your favorite Indian or Thai restaurant for a tasty curry meal.  It may just help your knees feel better.

On a more serious note, the published data supports trying a curcumin supplement 1500 mg per day divided in three doses for 4-6 weeks for patients with knee arthritis.  (See chart below)


Pain Reduction in Patients with Knee ArthritisKuptnirataikul et al

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