How To Use Turmeric for Pain: Supplement Spotlight

how to use turmeric for pain
Angela Watson Robertson
Written by
Angela Watson Robertson Nutrition

If you live with chronic joint pain, and you are trying to reduce or avoid your use of prescription or over-the-counter pain medication, it may be helpful to try supplements—in addition to nutrition and diet changes—to manage your pain. One supplement that is known, primarily anecdotally, to help with joint pain is turmeric. Read more to learn how to use turmeric for pain relief. 

What Is Turmeric?

Turmeric is a root in the ginger family and is commonly used for conditions involving pain and inflammation, such as osteoarthritis. The supplement is also used for hay fever, depression, high cholesterol, a type of liver disease, and itching. Some people use turmeric for heartburn, thinking and memory skills, inflammatory bowel disease, stress, and many other conditions, but there is currently no scientific evidence to support these uses (3). 

Turmeric (not to be confused with Javanese turmeric root – Curcuma Zedoaria) is grown in many Asian countries, as well as tropical areas. It is used in foods, fabrics, and cosmetics and can be dried and made into capsules, tablets, extracts, powders, or teas. Turmeric can also be made into a paste and applied topically. 

How Does Turmeric Help With Joint Pain?

According to Mayo Clinic (1), “Turmeric’s primary active component, curcumin, has anti-inflammatory properties, making it a potential treatment for a number of health conditions, including reduced pain and increased ease of movement in people with osteoarthritis. One study found that taking turmeric extract three times daily was comparable to taking a 1,200 mg dose of ibuprofen daily. In addition, it may lessen some of the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, such as joint swelling and morning stiffness.”

Are There Side Effects?

Most people report there are no side effects to the use of Turmeric (curcumin), however some people have experienced mild side effects such as stomach upset, nausea, dizziness, or diarrhea. These side effects are more common at higher doses.

A few things to consider about Turmeric:

  • High doses or long-term use may cause gastrointestinal upset (1)
  • It appears to be generally safe when limited to less than 8 grams per day for up to 2 months and up to 3 grams per day when used up to 3 months (3)
  • Use caution if you have gallbladder disease, as it may worsen the condition
  • Use caution if you take an anti-clotting medication or chemotherapy, as the supplement may interact with your medication
  • Use caution if you are pregnant or breastfeeding

What Does The Research Say About Turmeric For Pain?

According to The Journal of Medicinal Food (2), “Although turmeric and its curcumin-enriched extracts have been used for treating arthritis, no systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials (RCTs) have been conducted to evaluate the strength of the research.” 

The above being the case, you may benefit from trying the supplement, and many people report a reduction in pain after the consistent use of the supplement. As a health coach, I recommend that my clients see for themselves when there is not significant research performed on a particular nutritional supplement. When learning how to use turmeric for pain, I recommend trying a minimum of 500 mg per day for several weeks and track how you feel daily. At the end of the day, what is most important when deciding if something is good for you or not, is how you feel when you take it.

How to Use Turmeric for Pain

Learning how to use turmeric for pain can add additional benefits to your snacks, drinks, and meals. Turmeric comes in powdered form or can be bought fresh to be grated, blended, or steeped into recipes.

When possible, pair turmeric with regular black pepper. Black pepper improves the bioavailability of turmeric, making smaller doses more effective.

Here are five easy ideas and recipes for using turmeric.

  1. Add it to scrambled eggs.
    This is a great place to start if you want to try turmeric because the color is the same and the taste is subtle. Add a pinch of powdered turmeric and black pepper to your scrambled eggs while they’re cooking for a delicious and anti-inflammatory breakfast.

  2. Use it in soups or chili.
    Add an extra layer of warmth to your next bowl of soup by adding turmeric. A pumpkin chili recipe looks perfect for fall and winter!

  3. Top your salad with turmeric dressing.
    If you’re in the mood for a salad, try adding turmeric dressing.

  4. Blend it into a smoothie.
    You won’t even taste the difference, plus your anti-inflammatory smoothie will get a boost of sunshine yellow color when you add turmeric to your next smoothie!

  5. Make turmeric lattes.
    Sip away the pain with a calming turmeric latte.
Angela Watson Robertson
Written by
Angela Watson Robertson Nutrition

Angela Watson Robertson, MBA, CIHC, INHC is a well-known nutrition and wellness blogger and board-certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach who teaches you how to reinvent your life starting with the food you eat. She specializes in helping women 35+ thrive despite chronic pain and illness, endometriosis, perimenopause, and anxiety. Learn more about her at www.angelawatsonrobertson.com and connect with her on Instagram @6foothealthcoach.

I recommend working with a board-certified nutritionist, health coach, or registered dietician when making significant changes to your diet or supplementation, especially if you have chronic health issues. Always ask your doctor before you begin a new supplement regimen, especially if you have chronic or severe health conditions or you are on prescription medication.