Ankylosing spondylitis is an inflammatory joint condition. It is a type of arthritis that primarily attacks the spine and causes stiffness in your back. It may also affect other joints. There is currently no cure for this joint disorder, although it is often successfully managed with medications. Hence, there is a need for alternative medicine. The management of the condition includes exercise, dietary changes, alternative therapies and often herbal supplements.
Turmeric has been used as a spice to add color and flavor to Indian and Asian foods for centuries. It has also been used for its therapeutic abilities for various conditions including arthritis, the common cold and liver problems. There is no evidence of effectiveness of turmeric in people with ankylosing spondylitis. However, it seems to work to reduce the pain and severity of signs and symptoms in people with arthritis. People have seen improvements in their arthritis symptoms, including ankylosing spondylitis, after including turmeric in their diet or after taking it in supplement form. Some of the medications given for treating ankylosing spondylitis reduce inflammation by inhibiting tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α), an inflammatory mediator. Turmeric has a compound called curcumin that has been shown to inhibit this inflammatory pathway.
Turmeric exerts wide-ranging effects on several inflammatory pathways (apart from TNF-α). This property may be responsible for its role in other inflammatory conditions as well including diabetes, hyperlipidemia (high lipid or cholesterol levels) and cancer.
Multiple smaller studies have reported the effects of turmeric on arthritis. A study (meta-analysis) pooled the data from all these studies together to reach a particular conclusion. The meta-analysis was published in the Journal of Medicinal Food in 2016. It concluded that turmeric extract (about 1,000 mg/day of curcumin) may be effective in the treatment of arthritis. However, larger research studies are needed.
How to take turmeric for ankylosing spondylitis
Turmeric is available in two forms: powdered and fresh (root). You can make turmeric tea and golden milk/turmeric latte (turmeric added to hot milk) or just add turmeric to your food. However, this amount of turmeric might not give you all the claimed benefits, although people have found improvement in their arthritis symptoms with it. If you do not see any effect of curcumin when turmeric is added to your food, consider taking a 500-milligram curcumin supplement two or three times a day for three months.
Are turmeric supplements safe for everyone?
Including turmeric spice in your daily diet is likely to be safe. Turmeric products that provide up to eight grams of curcumin daily can be taken for up to two months and up to three grams of turmeric for up to three months. However, this does not apply to everyone. Due to their blood-thinning (slows blood clotting) action, curcumin or turmeric supplements may not be safe for you if you are on some blood-thinning medications such as aspirin. They may aggravate the effects of these medications and increase your risk of bruising and bleeding. Other medications with blood-thinning effects include
- Plavix (clopidogrel)
- Voltaren and Cataflam (diclofenac)
- Advil, Motrin and others (ibuprofen)
- Anaprox and Naprosyn (naproxen)
- Fragmin (dalteparin)
- Lovenox (enoxaparin)
- Coumadin (warfarin)
Curcumin supplements may not be safe for you if you have problems with your gallbladder, iron-deficiency anemia and infertility issues. Ask your doctor before using any supplements if you suffer from these health conditions and are on any medications, especially those named above. Moreover, do not discontinue your conventional treatment without consulting them.
Some people taking turmeric in higher doses may experience
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate supplements the way it regulates medicines. The concentration of curcumin may not be the same in all brands of curcumin supplements. Hence, you should be cautious while selecting a particular brand. Buy from a reliable brand or a brand that you trust.
Safety data of curcumin supplements in pregnant women and lactating mothers is lacking. They are likely to be unsafe. Hence, avoid taking curcumin supplements if you are pregnant or lactating unless your doctor approves.
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Journal of Medicinal Food