According to a new placebo-controlled clinical trial from Australia, turmeric  was effective as a therapy for osteoarthritis.

The researchers reported that turmeric was beneficial for test subjects who were “experiencing symptomatic knee arthritis and knee effusion-synovitis,” and was able to reduce a number of symptoms.

The study was published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine on September 15, 2020.

Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis and affects hundreds of millions of people worldwide.

Another option for arthritis sufferers

Medical treatment for osteoarthritis is very limited, with pain medication being the only option given to most patients. This makes it a key target for nutritional supplement companies.

Supplements can often provide nutrients that not only lower pain, but can also reduce inflammation. This is where turmeric excels.

Turmeric—the species name Curcuma longa—is a flowering plant of of the ginger family. It is a perennial herbaceous plant native to the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia. It is a common ingredient in Indian cuisine, and has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for over a thousand years.

Study details

For the study, 70 participants were each administered either a twice-daily dose of turmeric or a matching placebo. Results were measured over a period of 12 weeks.

Results were tabulated both with MRI readings, as well as secondary outcomes which were measured by the Western Ontario and McMaster Univserities Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC) pain and cartilage composition values.

According to the study, osteoarthritis pain as measured by the visual analogue scale was reduced significantly in the knee osteoarthritis patients, but remained unchanged in the effusion-synovitis group.

The supplement also improved WOMAC knee pain, but not lateral femoral cartilage T2 relaxation time.

The authors of the study concluded that the turmeric supplement used in the study were more effective than the placebo for knee pain, but did not affect knee effusion-synovitis or cartilage composition.

Small preliminary study

The researchers noted that a major limitation of the study was its small size, but wrote that the preliminary findings “warranted multicenter trials with larger sample sizes in order to assess the clinical significance of the findings.”

Primary Funding Sources were the University of Tasmania in Australia and Natural Remedies Private Limited in India.

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Sources: Anals of Internal Medicine / ACPJournals.org.