Alternative remedies for combatting joint pain – Fact and Fiction
November 21, 2023
Are copper bracelets and turmeric natural arthritis remedies?
You may have seen the increase in the use of copper bracelets or taking turmeric capsules to help with joint pain, but what are the facts around natural arthritis remedies? Is there any evidence to support their use?
… Let’s take a look.
Copper has been used for medicinal purposes since ancient times, with physicians beginning to use copper to treat arthritis in the late 1800s. Copper is an essential mineral that plays a vital role in the formation of red blood cells, iron absorption, and the health of the nervous, immune, cardiovascular, and skeletal systems. This is why some people believe it to be high on the list of natural arthritis remedies since the disease is caused by an overreaction of the immune system. The belief behind the practice of wearing copper bracelets is that copper has anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce pain and stiffness in the joints.
While copper bracelets may have some potential benefits for alleviating arthritis symptoms, there is not enough scientific evidence to fully support their effectiveness.
Although some people swear by the effectiveness of copper bracelets, others do not experience any relief from wearing them. In fact, there is not enough scientific evidence to support their effectiveness and their use. It is important to note that copper bracelets should not be used as a substitute for medical treatment. It is always best to consult with a healthcare professional before trying any alternative therapies to manage arthritis symptoms and to continue following any prescribed medical treatment plans. If you are experiencing symptoms of arthritis, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the best course of treatment for your specific condition.
It is also important to note that copper bracelets can cause skin irritation and discolouration in some individuals. If you experience any discomfort or adverse reactions while wearing a copper bracelet, it is recommended to discontinue use and consult with a healthcare professional.
… So what about turmeric?
Another popular entry on the list of natural arthritis remedies is turmeric. Turmeric is a spice that is ground from the root of the curcuma longa plant, it is commonly used in curries and gives them a bright yellow colour. Some people believe that it may also help relieve joint pain and inflammation associated with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. It has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine to treat arthritis; modern research has isolated the antioxidant curcumin as the key beneficial component of turmeric. Curcumin is reported to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, making it an alternative natural remedy for joint pain and stiffness.
In one study, researchers recruited 139 individuals with moderately severe knee osteoarthritis where symptoms require treatment with a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) (Kuptniratsaikul, 2009). For one-month individuals were given either a NSAID (diclofenac) or curcumin. The study found that both treatments helped relieve symptoms to a similar degree, with at least a 50% improvement in symptoms. Specifically, 94% of those taking curcumin and 97% of those taking diclofenac. A benefit from taking curcumin is that individuals reported fewer side effects, none of those taking curcumin needed treatment for stomach symptoms, but 28% of those taking diclofenac did. It should be noted that those taking curcumin lost on average 2% of their body weight in just four weeks.
Another study was conducted on 70 individuals aged 40 and above, who were diagnosed with knee osteoarthritis and swelling via ultrasound (Wang et al., 2020). The participants were randomly assigned to receive either 1000 mg of turmeric per day or a placebo. After 12 weeks, the placebo-controlled trial discovered that turmeric extract was more effective than the placebo in reducing knee pain in people with knee osteoarthritis. Those who were given turmeric reported significantly less knee pain according to the standardised questionnaire administered at the study’s conclusion. Although the researchers noted that more research is necessary, previous studies have also suggested the effectiveness of this spice in reducing pain. The only limitation of their research was the small number of participants, which may indicate a potential conflict of interest.
Other studies have shown that regular consumption of turmeric can help reduce inflammation in the joints, which is a common cause of joint pain. Turmeric has also been found to improve joint mobility and flexibility, making it a useful supplement for people with conditions such as arthritis.
However, it is important to remember that more studies are required to provide a good level of supportive evidence for the use of turmeric. More studies of this type are vital in understanding whether dietary changes and more natural treatments can be helpful for arthritis. More longer-term studies in osteoarthritis and other types of joint disease, as well as more extensive research and testing of its safety and benefits before recommending it as a good alternative to more traditional medical treatments.
How can Physiotherapy Matters Help?
At our clinic, we believe in providing a comprehensive range of treatment options to help you manage your joint pain symptoms effectively. Whether you choose physiotherapy, exercise programmes or injections, we are here to support you every step of the way.
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Kuptniratsaikul V, Thanakhumtorn S, Chinswangwatanakul P, Wattanamongkonsil L, Thamlikitkul V., 2009 Efficacy and safety of Curcuma domestica extracts in patients with knee osteoarthritis. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine; 15(8):891–97.
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Wang, Z., Jones, G., Winzenberg, T., Cai, G., Laslett, L.L., Aitken, D., Hopper, I., Singh, A., Jones, R., Fripp, J. and Ding, C., 2020. Effectiveness of Curcuma longa extract for the treatment of symptoms and effusion–synovitis of knee osteoarthritis: A randomized trial. Annals of internal medicine, 173(11), pp.861-869.