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Turmeric for Joint Pain and Stiffness

The turmeric plant grows in India and Indonesia, and its roots (when ground) serve as the basis for curry seasoning. One of the many active ingredients in turmeric is curcumin; it is used in traditional Chinese medicine and Indian Ayurvedic medicine to treat arthritis. The claims are that turmeric reduces arthritis joint pain, inflammation, and stiffness related to arthritis. Turmeric is also known as a digestive aid.

Several studies have shown that turmeric works as an anti-inflammatory and that it modifies the immune system. In a 2006 study, turmeric was more effective at preventing arthritis joint inflammation as opposed to reducing inflammation. A study in 2009 compared extracts of turmeric with  extracts of a related plant species, cucurma domestica, containing the same medicinal chemicals as regular turmeric. Researchers found that it worked as well at relieving symptoms of arthritis as 800 milligrams of ibuprofen daily. But definitive studies in humans are lacking, so the benefit of turmeric on arthritis is unclear.

People on blood thinners should use caution when taking turmeric as animal studies indicate it may increase the risk of bleeding. It may also cause stomachache.

Omega-3 (Fish Oil) for Joint Health

Omega-3 fatty acids are found in walnuts, canola and soybean oils, and coldwater fish like salmon and tuna. Fish oil supplements are also a good source of omega-3s -- a fat that plays a vital role in maintaining healthy cells throughout the body, including the joints. They also encourage the production of chemicals that help control inflammation in the joints, bloodstream, and tissues. 

Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, a fair amount of research has been done looking at the effects of omega-3s on rheumatoid arthritis, an inflammatory type of arthritis, as well as osteoarthritis. Multiple studies have reported improvements in morning stiffness and joint tenderness with the regular intake of fish oil supplements for up to three months. Fish oil supplements are derived from real fish -- so mercury, PCBs, and pesticides are an issue. Make sure you purchase brands that have been tested for and are free of pesticides, PCBs, and mercury.

Also, make sure fish oil supplements contain both DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid). Experts suggest you take 1 to 3 grams a day -- but no more than 3 grams a day -- of DHA and EPA added together. This is usually 3-10 grams of total fish oil per day. But be sure to read the product’s label to know for sure.

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