Turmeric Extract is Effective as Ibuprofen for Knee Osteoarthritis

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Turmeric Extract is Effective as Ibuprofen for Knee Osteoarthritis

Ibuprofen is a widely used non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) painkiller, often taken by people who experience pain in their knees (and specifically for knee osteoarthritis). While it usually helps with the pain, it also comes with several side effects. In severe (and rare) cases, it can cause kidney failure, bleeding from the stomach, heart attack and stroke. More and more empirical research is now showing that turmeric extract is effective as Ibuprofen in treating knee pain, and it’s much safer too.


Turmeric’s Many Health Benefits

Turmeric, ‘the king of all spices’, has many potential health benefits and is often used in alternative treatments. It not only relives pain, but also boosts immunity, helps with digestion and heart health, and reduces bad cholesterol levels. In addition you can use it as natural medicine for 12 different health conditions.

Some suggest that turmeric also improves the brain function, aids with skin problems and may even be the natural rival to dangerous depression medication.

When consuming this ancient spice, you are indeed doing your body an all-round favor. However, one drawback of turmeric is that it has low absorption and rapid metabolism that lead to relatively low bioavailability in the body. But the great news is that you can greatly improve turmeric’s bioavailability in your body to super boost its miraculous health benefits by following my advice in my previous post.


Turmeric has been used in India for thousands of years and it’s well known as a spice that gives curry its distinct yellow color. It contains compounds with medicinal properties – the most important of these compounds is curcumin. The curcumin content in turmeric is not that high, approximately 2%. So a tablespoon of turmeric, which weighs about 6.8 grams, contains about 0.136 gram curcumin. That is why curcumin extract needs to be used when looking to achieve health benefits and when studying this ancient super spice.

Knee Osteoarthritis And Turmeric

In 2009, a study published in the The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, looked at the efficacy and safety of curcuma (Curcuma domestica) extract in patients with knee osteoarthritis (OA).

This Thailand-based randomized controlled trial included 107 patients with knee osteoarthritis who were given either:

ibuprofen (800 mg per day) or turmeric extract (2 g per day).

After 6 weeks, both groups of patients were evaluated on the main outcomes, which included:

  • Walking
  • Climbing the stairs
  • The experience of pain when performing these tasks

Both groups improved after the treatment period, and the turmeric group exhibited less pain when walking up the stairs. The researchers concluded that curcuma extract was ‘similarly efficacious and safe as ibuprofen for the treatment of knee OA’.

Another study, published in 2014, provided even more evidence for the use of turmeric. This bigger study (with 367 participants) was also conducted in Thailand and looked at the pain reduction and functional improvement of patients with knee osteoarthritis after taking curcuma.

Again, turmeric extract proved to be just as effective as ibuprofen in treating the pain. Moreover, less side effects were reported in the turmeric group. The number of events of stomach pain and discomfort was significantly higher in the ibuprofen group compared to the curcumin extract group.


Stomach pain is just one of ibuprofen’s possible side effects. Other adverse effects include:

  • Rash
  • Dizziness
  • Heartburn
  • Nausea

Turmeric, on the other hand, is safe for most people. Side effects of turmeric occur very rarely and involve relatively harmless cases of stomach upset, diarrhea and dizziness. People with gall bladder disease, gastrointestinal reflux or those who are expected to have a surgery within two weeks, should not use curcumin extract. In addition, it’s always a good idea to consult with your doctor before taking it.

There are other natural remedies that can effectively fight joint pain and inflammation. For example:

There are also 15 natural and effective alternatives to ibuprofen:

15 Natural and Effective Alternatives to Ibuprofen

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10 Responses to Turmeric Extract is Effective as Ibuprofen for Knee Osteoarthritis

  1. Payal says:

    U have not mentioned anything about how much n how to take turmeric for knee pain or joint pain

    • Jenny says:

      You can see all the information in the study itself (mentioned in the article). In the study they used turmeric extract (2 g per day) and the results were checked after 6 weeks.

  2. Dawn says:

    Is Turmeric safe to use for people who have issues with kidney stones.

  3. Niaz alam says:


    how to get Turmeric Extract ?

  4. Maryrose says:

    How to take turmeric for knee pain u combine it with water and drink it ?

    • Jenny Hills says:

      According to the study, the participants took turmeric extract (2 g per day) which is a supplement with a concentrated amount of curcumin. The curcumin content in turmeric spice is not that high and that is why turmeric extract was used in the case of knee osteoarthritis. You should look for products standardized for 95% curcuminoids that also contain piperine or black pepper extract to improve turmeric absorption. You will need to consult your doctor before taking turmeric supplement, as it can interact with some medications – see more information in my article “Turmeric Should Be Avoided By These People“. If you decide not to take turmeric supplement, you can try my recipe for turmeric tea (see HERE).

  5. Kogie says:

    Hi thank you most kindly for a very informative topic of discussion.I have severe osteoarthritis of the left knee and have tried several supplements viz glucosamine/boswella/MSM/Boron and some herbal Auverdic supplements over a year.Now I am on Cherry juice extract and apple cider vinegar .Please tell if I am on the right track.Kind regards

    • Jenny Hills says:

      Tart cherry is good for joint pain and reducing inflammation, and there have been several studies about it – see more information in my article “How to Fight Joint Pain and Inflammation With Tart Cherries“. A study about ACV (see HERE) found that consuming ACV had a “considerable effect on controlling chronic pain and inflammation”. So ACV’s beneficial effects can be amplified when it is combined with other substances, such as turmeric extract, or tart cherry juice. You are on the right track, but like any medicine, natural or not natural, it may work better for certain people but not work for others, so the best way is to experiment and be patient and see if you notice any improvement.

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