Curcumin outperforms anti-inflammatory drug for rheumatoid arthritis relief
(NaturalHealth365) With the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) predicting that nearly one out of every two people will develop osteoarthritis by the time they are 85 – and that 78 million adults will be diagnosed with some form of arthritis by the year 2040 – researchers have scrambled to find safe and effective treatments for the painful condition.
Now, a specialized form of curcumin – an extract of turmeric – is bringing new hope.
The therapeutic power of curcumin has been limited – until now …
Researchers have long known of curcumin’s extreme potency as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory that can combat the joint-damaging effects of arthritis. An animal study published in 2006 in Arthritis and Rheumatology demonstrated that a curcumin-rich turmeric extract inhibited joint inflammation and joint destruction, and prevented the expression of prostaglandins and of clyclooxygenase 2 – both pro-inflammatory substances.
Yet, because curcumin has poor bioavailability in the human body, it is not always practical, or possible, to get therapeutic amounts into the system. In many of the studies which showed curcumin’s benefits, researchers have had to use extremely large amounts – often injected.
Now, a specialized complex of purified, reconstituted curcumin called BCM-95 — with seven times the bioavailability of standard curcumin – is offering a solution to the frustrating problem of low bioavailability.
Superior-absorbing BCM-95 produced striking results in a randomized study
In a study published in Phytotherapy Research, researchers divided 45 participants with active rheumatoid arthritis into three groups. One group received 500 mg a day of the purified curcumin, one group received the curcumin in addition to 50 mg a day of diclofenac – a standard arthritis medication – and one group received only the diclofenac.
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One way in which the researchers measured the efficacy of curcumin was to evaluate how many participants reported significant improvements in joint swelling and tenderness – measured in increments of 20 percent, 50 percent and 70 percent.
The group who took nothing but curcumin led the pack in improvement of symptoms, with 93 percent – an overwhelming majority – experiencing a significant reduction in pain and swelling of 20 percent. 73 percent of the participants who took only curcumin experienced a very marked 50 percent reduction, and 33 percent experienced a dramatic 70 percent reduction in joint swelling and tenderness.
The curcumin-only group also led in reduction of reported pain, with a decrease of 60 percent. Interestingly, adding diclofenac to the curcumin was of no benefit in pain reduction – the group who took curcumin plus diclofenac didn’t fare quite as well, with a decrease of 56 percent. Finally, pain reduction in the group that took diclofenac alone was only 50 percent.
Measurements of biomarkers of inflammation confirmed curcumin’s promising results
The researchers did not depend solely on the participants’ reports of their reduced symptoms. They also tested erythrocyte sedimentation rates, which measure inflammation. Both the curcumin and curcumin-plus-diclofenac group experienced reductions in their erythrocyte sedimentation rate of 11.2 and 13.3 percent respectively, while the group taking only the diclofenac had a mere 8.3 percent reduction in sedimentation rate.
Even more impressive were the measurements of C-reactive protein – another marker of inflammation. The curcumin-only group cut their levels in half, reducing them by 52 percent. The diclofenac group, on the other hand, not only had no reductions in CRP measurements, but actually experienced slightly increased amounts – 1.5 percent – of the inflammatory protein.
Curcumin had no reported side effects
Researchers were also impressed by the fact that the curcumin group experienced no side effects or adverse reactions – while the diclofenac groups did. Diclofenac is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug that can cause gastrointestinal bleeding, liver toxicity and allergic reactions; other drugs used to treat RA, such as methotrexate, can suppress the immune system and increase infection risk.
There were no such problems with curcumin, causing researchers to note both the superiority and safety of this non-toxic natural compound over diclofenac in most measures of inflammation.
Curcumin directly attacks inflammation
Many conventional treatments – even when they succeed in reducing pain and swelling – only “mask” symptoms, and do little to change the underlying cause. Curcumin, on the other hand, directly combats inflammation, attacking multiple inflammatory targets simultaneously.
Researchers report that curcumin reduces all pro-inflammatory molecules in cartilage cells and in membranes that line the joints, among them tumor necrosis factor – which destroys joint cartilage – and vascular endothelial growth factor, which promotes excessive growth of blood vessels in inflamed joints.
These multiple actions are far superior to the single-action mechanism of many conventional drugs. When it comes to attacking arthritis, curcumin is definitely “firing on all cylinders” – working to protect the cartilage that in turn protects joints.
Curcumin has the potential to treat other devastating diseases
Research has shown that inflammation is at the root of virtually all chronic degenerative diseases. This means that curcumin has the potential to prevent and combat not only osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, but other life-threatening conditions – such as Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular disease, cancer, multiple sclerosis, and diabetes.
And research is confirming this exciting possibility. In recent animal studies, BCM-95 decreased inflammation associated with obesity, while also reducing levels of the inflammatory molecule IL-2 – which is strongly associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
With the development of purified reconstituted curcumin, or BCM-95, the fight against inflammation – and its consequences — has just moved to a whole new level.
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