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One of my friends told me to take turmeric and another friend told me to take curcumin. Which is better?


Q. Dear Terry, “One of my friends told me to take turmeric and another friend told me to take curcumin. Which is better? My primary health concern is preventing my arthritis from worsening.”– Teresa H., Fort Worth, TX

A. Dear Teresa, Turmeric is a wonderful plant that produces rhizomes, which are like underground roots. The turmeric itself only contains about 2-5% curcumin. According to a vast amount of research, curcumin appears to be the most health-promoting compound in turmeric. Turmeric is a great food additive. When it comes to preventing or treating health conditions, I think curcumin is a much better choice.

Several clinical trials have proven curcumin’s efficacy for arthritic conditions like osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). OA is generally what we think of as “wear and tear” on the joints as we age. The cartilage between the joints deteriorates and eventually leads to friction and joint damage. In a recent clinical study, curcumin was shown to be as effective as the non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drug diclofenac sodium. During this study, 28% in the drug group had to be started on an H2 blocker because of the adverse effects versus 0% in the curcumin group. Overall, the curcumin group had almost a three-fold decrease in adverse effects compared to the drug.

Curcumin has also shown efficacy for RA, a complex autoimmune condition. A clinical study demonstrated that curcumin was a safe and effective option for RA. The curcumin and drug group performed similarly for decreasing symptoms, but 14% of the drug group (vs. 0% of the curcumin group) had to drop out because of adverse effects.

Another botanical I think is very helpful for arthritis is boswellia. In fact, human studies have demonstrated that the combination of boswellia and curcumin can be incredibly beneficial for arthritis. One such study showed that in just 12 weeks of receiving curcumin and boswellia 64% of participants improved so much that their arthritis was moved from “moderate to severe” to “mild to moderate”.  

I prefer curcumin enhanced with turmeric essential oil, which boosts the compound’s absorption and blood retention. I also think it’s important to find a boswellia that has high naturally occurring levels of acetyl-11-keto-beta-boswellic acid (AKBA) as researchers have found this is one of the most valuable compounds in boswellia. Boswellia also has a pro-inflammatory compound, called beta-boswellic acid (BBA), so I would choose a boswellia low in BBA.

To help with the pain and inflammation from arthritis I would take curcumin enhanced with turmeric essential oil, boswellia, DLPA, and nattokinase two to three times per day.

Healthy Regards!

Terry . . . Naturally

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