When you hear the phrase “chronic pain” you might imagine an elderly person doubled over in agony. But chronic pain describes such common all-ages situations as persistent lower back pain, a “bad shoulder,” or even achy feet, as well as conditions like arthritis and autoimmune disorders. Chronic pain affects millions of people in the U.S. every year and makes it difficult for sufferers to do everyday tasks—from getting out of bed quickly to carrying groceries into the house. Modern medicine might jump to prescribing painkillers for chronic pain, but some of these are addictive, others have unpleasant side effects, and others simply don’t work well. Chances are that the “chronic pain” you’re experiencing is caused by inflammation of some sort. Luckily nature has blessed us with natural anti-inflammatory remedies that are safer and just as effective as prescribed medication.
WHAT CAUSES INFLAMMATION?
According the National Institutes of Health, inflammation is associated with autoimmune diseases like lupus. And a study in the International Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease notes that inflammation could also play a role in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Inflammation itself isn’t bad: It’s the body’s natural protective response to injury or damage. However, in some cases, the inflammation response continues—getting stuck “on” instead of switching off—which can wreak havoc on the body and cause pain. In other cases, inflammation can be triggered by diet: Food sensitivities and allergies to things like gluten can cause widespread inflammation in the body. A study in the journal Nutrient reports that Western diets full of high-sugar and high-carbohydrate processed foods may also contribute to inflammation. The good news is a weapon in the fight against inflammation and chronic pain is also a traditional food. It’s natural turmeric, the spice that’s probably sitting in your spice rack.
Turmeric has been used for centuries to fight pain and promote health around the world, particularly in the Ayurvedic system of natural medicine in India. You probably know golden-hued turmeric as one of the tasty ingredients in your favorite curry. But this spice is also a potentially powerful natural option.
WHAT MAKES TURMERIC SO POWERFUL AGAINST PAIN?
Turmeric contains curcumin, an antioxidant that may provide a boost to your body’s own natural defenses against inflammation and other problems. Turmeric is used in cooking in many cuisines. But the amount used in cooking can vary—and unless every meal you eat includes the spice, it may not be enough to help reduce inflammation. Taking a concentrated turmeric supplement is a good way to get the natural anti-inflammatory benefits of this spice, not only because it’s easier to regulate the amount, but also because curcumin can be difficult for the body to absorb and utilize. The body processes curcumin much more efficiently when it’s taken with black pepper, which contains an alkaloid called piperine that helps make curcumin more efficiently absorbed. That’s why RECHARGE HEALTH’s Power Healing Turmeric contains turmeric powder, curcuminoids, and black pepper fruit extract (BioPerine). If you also plan to incorporate turmeric into some meals, be sure to add black pepper to the recipe as well.
HOW TURMERIC CAN HELP OFFER JOINT PAIN RELIEF
Some people who suffer from joint pain or arthritis pain may find relief naturally by taking a turmeric supplement. One 2006 study found that turmeric supplements effectively prevented inflammation in the joints. So taking a turmeric supplement daily might even help stop inflammation before it starts. That’s important if you have a chronic condition because you know that it’s much easier to prevent pain than getting rid of it. A 2016 review of 8 studies on curcumin and arthritis pain, published in the Journal of Medicinal Food considered the results of studies conducted on middle-aged to elderly men and women in which dosage varied from 100-2000mg per day. The review of the studies concluded that curcumin improved joint function measured by morning stiffness and movements, versus a placebo, and that it might have an effect similar to analgesic medicines like. For many people with arthritis, the idea of natural pain relief is, not surprisingly, very appealing: Depending on dosage and duration, even over-the-counter pain medications can cause upset stomach, leaky gut (where toxins and bacteria can leak through the intestinal walls), and other health problems. By contrast, with turmeric, it tends to be well tolerated, but this is dose- and person-specific. While some people might experience acid reflux if they consume too much turmeric, most people have no problems at all with this natural spice. Note that you should always consult your doctor before beginning to take turmeric regularly, and if you’re pregnant, do not take turmeric or any other supplement without talking to your ob/gyn first.
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!
OTHER HEALTH BENEFITS OF TURMERIC
Having natural anti-inflammatory properties, turmeric is one of the best known herbal remedies for pain. But turmeric has many other potential health benefits as well. Besides pain relief, turmeric is thought to offer other benefits like:
- Giving skin a clear, glowing appearance
- Looking younger and wrinkle free
- Helping to boost the immune system
- Helping to keep the heart healthier
- Helping to prevent leaky gut (sometimes diagnosed in people with celiac or Crohn’s disease)
- Helping to prevent blood clots
- Helping to treat and prevent cancer
Here are some of the best ways that you can take turmeric for pain and inflammation.
ADD TURMERIC TO YOUR FAVORITE FOODS
While turmeric really shines in curries and Southeast Asian meals, you can also add it to rice, sprinkle it on vegetables, or swirl it into soups and stews. You can also get the benefits of turmeric by drinking a cup of Golden Milk, which is an Ayurvedic turmeric-infused beverage that originated in India. Today, different versions of Golden Milk are used as tonics and natural anti-inflammatory treatments around the world. The basic ingredients in Golden Milk are milk, turmeric, peppercorns, ginger, honey, and whatever other spices you want to add (cinnamon can be a tasty add-in). Golden Milk can be made with cow’s milk, goat’s milk, or even with vegan non-dairy milk like soy, almond, or coconut milk. You can buy pre-made Golden Milk spices or make your own.
To make your own, heat some milk on the stove. As it gets warm, pour in several tablespoons of Turmeric, along with a generous amount of black pepper, to help your body absorb and process the curcumin in the turmeric. You can also add ginger, cinnamon, and other spices to make it taste like chai, along with a splash of pure vanilla extract and a little honey if desired. Heat the mixture just until boiling, then remove it from heat and strain into a mug. Stir and enjoy.
HOW TO GET THE BEST RESULTS WHEN YOU TAKE A TURMERIC SUPPLEMENT FOR PAIN
You’ll have to eat or drink a lot of turmeric in order to experience any sustained natural anti-inflammatory benefits. Therefore, when you need an extra boost in pain management, you can also take a turmeric supplement, such as RECHARGE HEALTH Power Healing Turmeric. Take the turmeric supplement with a meal or snack containing fat (such as part-skim cheese or nut butter, or a meal that includes lean animal protein such as chicken or fish). Curcumin is fat soluble, so taking it with a fatty snack or a fatty meal will help your body process the curcumin faster. It also reduces the chances you’ll get an upset stomach.
The bottom line? If you want to take a proactive approach to natural anti-inflammatory solutions, make sure to stock your pantry with ground turmeric (properly stored in an airtight container, you can use it for up to a year) and take a turmeric supplement as needed (although not daily; only take something every day if you’re doctor has advised you to). It’s an all-natural way to avoid the side effects of prescription and over-the-counter pain medications, while still receiving turmeric’s benefits—a tasty meal being just one of them!