Julie Hambleton
Julie Hambleton
April 21, 2023 ·  4 min read

Turmeric for arthritis, how well does it work?

This site contains product affiliate links. We may receive a commission if you make a purchase after clicking on one of these links.

If you’re looking to reduce inflammation, ease pain, or help manage arthritis and other inflammatory conditions, consider this. Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, maybe the natural approach you’ve been looking for.

Why You Should Consider Turmeric for Pain Relief

Turmeric is a root that has been used for thousands of years for various reasons. Beyond just as a flavoring agent for food, its pungent, bright orange color was used to dye clothing, among other things. While turmeric has been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine, it wasn’t until recently that scientists discovered exactly what makes curcumin so effective at reducing pain and inflammation.

Curcumin is the active ingredient in turmeric that helps it work as an anti-inflammatory agent. It’s a powerful antioxidant that can help fight the signs of aging, slow down the formation of cancer cells, and reduce inflammation in your body. In fact, one study found that curcumin had an anti-inflammatory effect equivalent to some prescription NSAIDs like ibuprofen but without side effects. (1,4)

What’s Wrong With NSAIDs?

NSAIDs, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, are commonly used to treat pain and inflammation. They’re some of the most popular medications on the market today, with millions of prescriptions written each year in the US alone. That being said, they come with a host of potential side effects. These include (2):

  • Stomach ulcers and bleeding
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Headaches
  • Heartburn and indigestion
  • Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
  • Kidney problems

For this reason, an increasing number of people are looking for more natural alternatives that come with less negative side effects.

Will Eating Turmeric Reduce Pain?

In short, no. Unfortunately, simply eating more turmeric doesn’t get you the same benefits as taking a supplement containing high amounts of curcumin. This is because turmeric contains low amounts of this active ingredient and not enough of it is absorbed by your body when taken in food form alone.

The good news is that there are plenty of other ways to get your curcumin fix. The best way to increase your intake is by taking a supplement that’s been standardized for curcumin content. This ensures you get the right amount of active ingredient in each capsule and helps reduce any possible side effects. (3)

How To Take Turmeric For Pain Relief

As mentioned, simply incorporating turmeric root into your diet may not give you the results you’re looking for. For that, you need to supplement. The best turmeric dosage for pain relief is 500 mg, three times daily. This amount is used in clinical trials and has been shown to be effective. You may be able to take less if you’re taking it alongside other supplements that contain curcumin, such as black pepper extract. However, a higher dose may be more beneficial if you’re trying to manage long-term conditions or chronic pain. (4)

Black pepper extract is a great addition to any turmeric regimen. The black pepper extract adds the piperine compound, which helps your body absorb more curcumin from turmeric. It also helps to increase the bioavailability and absorption of the other healthy compounds found in black pepper. You can add a few drops of this extract to your smoothie or sprinkle it on top of your meals for added benefits.

Potential Side Effects of Taking Turmeric Supplements

While natural and better for your body than most over-the-counter painkillers, turmeric supplements aren’t necessarily 100% side-effect free. You should be aware of some potential side effects before taking turmeric. Some people have reported experiencing headaches, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and nausea after taking the supplement. If you experience any of these symptoms while taking turmeric, back off on the dosage. Starting smaller and gradually increasing your dosage can help reduce these symptoms. Of course, if you are still struggling, stop taking it. In this case, you may want to speak with your healthcare practitioner about another alternative for you.

The Bottom Line

Turmeric supplements may be a more natural alternative for you to regular painkillers. If you decide to give turmeric a try, it’s important to do your research. Ensure you are taking the right dosage and that it doesn’t interact with any medications or supplements you are taking. As always, it’s best to speak to your healthcare practitioner before adding any new supplement to your daily routine. Never discontinue the use of any prescribed medications without first consulting with your doctor.

Keep Reading: Benefits of Lemon Water: What’s Myth and What’s Fact?


  1. Curcumin.” Examine
  2. The dangers of NSAIDs: look both ways.” NCBI. Abigail Davis, et al. April 2016.
  3. Curcumin for arthritis: Does it really work?.” Harvard. Robert H. Shmerling, MD. December 1, 2021.
  4. Mayo Clinic Q and A: Turmeric’s anti-inflammatory properties may relieve arthritis pain.” Mayo Clinic. Liza Torborg. January 24, 2020.

    Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and is for information only. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions about your medical condition and/or current medication. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking advice or treatment because of something you have read here.