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Move Over, Arthritis Prescriptions – Curcumin Works Better!

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 30 million American adults suffer from osteoarthritis. And even though the side effects of many prescription drugs have become well known, many people will still assume that overall, they are the only choice. But research with curcumin casts that old mind set in doubt.

This clinical study compared a commonly used prescription drug, diclofenac (Voltaren is one brand name) to a curcumin, a compound extracted from turmeric (Curcuma longa) blended with turmeric essential oil, a source of ar-turmerone, which enhances the botanical’s absorption and blood retention.

While diclofenac is widely used, it can also cause stomach ulcers, acid reflux, GI bleeding, headaches, dizziness, and even kidney damage. The gastrointestinal side effects of diclofenac alone are enough to turn most people off: gas, bloating, and flatulence are just some of the problems – issues that curcumin also relieves, aside from pain.

The researchers found that curcumin provided just as much pain relief as the prescription drug, but with a much higher level of safety. In fact, 28 percent of the people taking diclofenac in this study had such severe gastrointestinal issues, they had to take a second drug to alleviate stomach pain and acidity caused by the first drug.

Curcumin is an excellent choice for everyone, especially those who can’t tolerate the side effects of over-the-counter or prescription drugs or have noticed the onset of serious side effects of those drugs.

This is excellent news for anyone who has felt steered to prescription or over-the-counter choices that do, in fact, dull arthritis pain but come with a steep price of unwanted effects. Curcumin does relieve pain – it is a powerful COX-2 inhibitor – but it also works through multiple inflammatory pathways, helping the body heal, not just masking underlying symptoms and taking a single-track approach.

The amount of curcumin – three, 500 mg doses a day – is easy to incorporate into a daily regimen. The type of curcumin used in the study, which provide a family of beneficial compounds called curcuminoids and include curcumin, demethoxycurcumin, bisdemethoxycurcumin is readily available as BCM-95/Curcugreen Curcumin and has been used in over 50 published studies. Unlike prescription or over-the-counter pain killers, it is safe, effective, and does not cause side effects or organ damage.



Shep D, Khanwelkar C, Gade P, Karad S. Safety and efficacy of curcumin versus diclofenac in knee osteoarthritis: a randomized open-label parallel-arm study. Trials. 2019;20(1):214.

Background: The purpose of this study was to compare the efficacy and safety of curcumin with those of diclofenac in the treatment of knee osteoarthritis (OA).

Methods: In this randomized, open-label, parallel, active controlled clinical study, 139 patients with knee OA were randomly assigned to receive either a curcumin 500-mg (BCM-95®) capsule three times daily or a diclofenac 50-mg tablet two times daily for 28 days. Patients underwent assessment at baseline and days 7, 14, and 28. The main outcome measure was severity of pain using visual analogue scale score at days 14 and 28. Knee Injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score (KOOS) (at days 14 and 28), anti-flatulent effect (at day 7), anti-ulcer effect, weight-lowering effect, and patient’s and physician’s global assessment of therapy at day 28 were included as secondary outcome measures. Safety after treatment was evaluated by recording adverse events and laboratory investigation.

Results: At days 14 and 28, patients receiving curcumin showed similar improvement in severity of pain and KOOS scale when compared with diclofenac, and the difference was not statistically significant. At day 7, the patients who received curcumin experienced a significantly greater reduction in the number of episodes of flatulence compared with diclofenac (P <0.01). At day 28, a weight-lowering effect (P <0.01) and anti-ulcer effect (P <0.01) of curcumin were observed. None of the patients required H2 blockers in the curcumin group, and 19 patients required H2 blockers in the diclofenac group (0% versus 28%, respectively; P <0.01). Adverse effects were significantly less in the curcumin group (13% versus 38% in the diclofenac group; P <0.01). Patient’s and physician’s global assessment of therapy was similar in the two treatment groups.

Conclusion: Curcumin has similar efficacy to diclofenac but demonstrated better tolerance among patients with knee OA. Curcumin can be an alternative treatment option in the patients with knee OA who are intolerant to the side effects of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.


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Terry is happy to provide his opinion on diet and nutrition, supplements and lifestyle choices. This information is for educational purposes only. It is not meant to replace the advice of your physician and is not to be considered medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Should you have any concerns please contact your physician directly.
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