Turmeric vs. Ibuprofen: Which is Better for Arthritis?

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Ibuprofen has a corner on the over-the-counter pain market, accounting for one-third of OTC analgesics in the U.S. But this popular pill has serious risks, having been definitively linked to heart disease in a study last year. Fortunately, there are alternatives, and new research suggests one of the best options may be the spice turmeric.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said in a 2002 report, that over 100 billion tablets of ibuprofen had been sold in the U.S. since it became available in 1984. Obviously, that number has likely grown significantly since the report. Then, they estimated ibuprofen users were taking an average of 17.1 pills per month, a significant amount, but understandable for those living in chronic pain.

The most recent research intended to study a group of people with such chronic pain, and the effects of ibuprofen compared with the effects of turmeric, a bright orange spice commonly associated with curries.

Published in the Journal of Clinical Interventions in Agingthe research sought to “determine the efficacy and safety of Curcuma domestica extracts in pain reduction and functional improvement.”

Curcuma domestica is the latin term for turmeric, which contains an active component known as curcumin, credited with its wealth of benefits. For the study, participants were given tablets with 1,500 mg of turmeric extracts. As reference, turmeric powder typically contains 2-4% curcumin by weight.

The 367 participants were randomly assigned into two groups—one that would receive 1,200 mg of ibuprofen per day and the other who would receive 1,500 mg of turmeric extracts per day, over a period of four weeks. All of the participants suffered from knee osteoarthritis, with a pain score of 5 or higher.

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