What is it?

Turmeric is believed to have anti-inflammatory properties. You can buy ground turmeric over the counter from health food shops, pharmacies and supermarkets. We don’t know yet whether it’s effective in osteoarthritis because there’s only limited trial evidence, but it suggests that it only has minor side-effects.

  • Family: Nutritional supplement of the ginger (Zingiberaceae) family
  • Scientific name: Curcuma domestica
  • Other names: C. rotunda L., C. xanthorrhiza Naves and Amomum curcuma Jacq

Turmeric is a perennial plant native to southern Asia. It’s widely grown both for domestic and medicinal purposes. You can buy it from high-street shops.

How does it work?

Studies on animals have shown that turmeric products have anti-inflammatory properties.

Is it safe?

Human clinical trials haven’t found turmeric to be toxic when given at doses of 1–10 g a day. In studies, participants received doses of approximately 1–1.5 g a day but also up to 8 g a day.

Turmeric increased the effects of anticoagulants or antiplatelet drugs in laboratory studies, but the effects on antiplatelet drugs haven’t been demonstrated in humans.

Turmeric trials for osteoarthritis

The 107 participants with primary osteoarthritis of the knee were randomised to receive either 2 g turmeric or 800 mg ibuprofen (a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) per day for six weeks.

  • Both groups’ pain levels when walking and when climbing stairs improved, as did their knee function.
  • Those who took turmeric found that their pain when climbing stairs improved more than those who received ibuprofen.
  • There was no difference in reported side-effects between the groups, and the most commonly reported were heartburn and dizziness.
  • Those who received ibuprofen were better at taking their treatment than those who received turmeric.