bowl of turmeric spice

Bursitis is can strike almost any joint in the body. Hips, shoulders, knees and elbows are especially vulnerable. When the fluid-filled sacks (bursae) become inflamed, the pain can become overwhelming. It is hard to lift an arm when you have bursitis in a shoulder.

This reader of our syndicated newspaper column reports that the bursitis in his hip no longer responded to steroid injections. We’re not that surprised. A Danish study in JAMA Internal Medicine (June, 2015) revealed that cortisone-type injections into the knee did not produce any measurable benefit when it came to exercise.

If anything, repeated cortisone injections into joints may slow healing and ultimately lead to osteoarthritis and bone deterioration. That’s why alternatives approaches to inflammation are so intriguing.

Q. I have suffered from bursitis in my right hip for about four years. I had six cortisone shots in my hip during this time. The first shots helped a lot, but the later ones did virtually nothing.

I started taking turmeric daily, and the bursitis is gone! I saw benefit within a few months. Regular turmeric intake keeps my hip well.

A. Turmeric is the yellow spice in curry as well as yellow mustard. One important component, curcumin, has anti-inflammatory activity and has been used for relieving arthritis, bursitis and other joint pain, stabilizing blood sugar, preventing cancer, treating warts and wounds and alleviating eczema and psoriasis. You should be aware of its potential side effects and interactions as well. We provide details on how to use it safely in our book, The People’s Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies. In it, turmeric and curcumin, in the guise of curry, are discussed as our favorite food #23.

Others have reported anti-inflammatory benefits from turmeric. Here is what Leigh has to say:

“I didn’t have psoriasis [visitors to this site have reported improvement in this skin condition with turmeric], but had read about turmeric for joint pain so that’s why I started taking it. My pain was mostly in my thumbs, but my knees were also getting sore. It seemed like I had arthritis in my thumbs, so painful, could hardly use my hands. This was about a year ago, but now the inflammation is completely gone!

“I was taking turmeric capsules morning and evening with a meal. Then I discovered by accident that when I forgot my morning dose a few times and took 2 at night, that the next morning I had no pain at all. So I doubled up for about 4 weeks, taking 2 in the AM and 2 in the PM. Doing that completely broke the cycle of inflammation! Once the inflammation was gone, (about 8 months now) I’ve been able to stay pain free by taking 1 to 2 caps a day.
“It’s the best medicine ever! I also get a double effect, since it is a natural blood thinner, I don’t need an aspirin every day to prevent blood clots.”

People’s Pharmacy Response:

And that may pose a problem, especially for people taking blood thinners such as warfarin (Coumadin). We have heard of situations where people taking turmeric (or its active ingredient curcumin) experienced changes in blood coagulation and clotting (INR levels got out of whack). This could lead to dangerous bleeding. Other people report stomach upset or a rash. Again, to learn more about the pros and cons of turmeric, check out our books and guides.

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  1. moondust
    New Zealand

    any comments about the varying lengths of time it can take to kick in would be appreciated. I have been taking 3 x 600g curcumin with black pepper every day for 3 weeks with no relief.

  2. Lilla
    British Columbia

    I noticed with interest the commentator who said turmeric helped with hot flashes and sleep. I found that Curcumin caplets (these contained the pepper as well) were very effective for my hip bursitis pain, but I was wide awake all night when I took them – and I mean WIDE awake, exhausted but unable to nod off. Anyone else have this problem with the Curcumin?

  3. moondust
    New Zealand

    I have been taking 3 x 600mg of curcumin with bioprine for 3 weeks with no relief of my knee bursitis at all. I still cannot kneel down, and if I do I have to roll over onto hands and knees to be able to get up again. I dont know whether to give up on it and return to NSAIDs. Should it take this long to kick in?

  4. Carrie

    I have GERD (heartburn) and take no prescription meds for it. Just Rolaids. I tried turmeric, hoping it would help me with several issues. But I got really bad heartburn from it along with fatigue and a pounding heart. Those with acid reflux should be careful when trying it. Wish I could take it.


    I do have left hip bursitis for some yrs ago. I use turmeric to sprinkle every day on my breakfast like eggs. soups, salad, beans, yogurts & others. it helps me a lot because one time I did not use turmeric for one week & I cud feel pain on my left hip bursitis. then I go back to sprinkle turmeric to continue. Now I know it really works for me.

    • Geri

      Very helpful as I have the same complaint. I look forward to starting on the turmeric when it arrives, I ordered 1 kg as my hip bursitis is now so painful I can only walk intermittently.

  6. ann r.

    Will someone please let me know if it would help with my “carpel tunnel” which occurred after a broken wrist. The cortisone shot did not work and I was told surgery is necessary. (I take baby aspirin – since a stroke 13 years ago, and am 65) thanks

    • Cindy
      Marietta, GA

      I also had carpal tunnel in both of my wrists and my doctor told me to take 100mg of B-6 everyday for it. It worked. Now if I forget to take the B-6 for awhile my wrists start to bother me. My friend had surgery for her carpal tunnel and it didn’t help her. I told my father in law about using B-6 for carpal tunnel when his doctor advised surgery for him and he also tried it and his carpal tunnel also went away.

  7. ann
    hillsboro, or

    Would someone let me know if it would work on my “carpal tunnel”, which occurred after a wrist fracture. A cortisone shot did not work, and I’m told surgery is necessary. (I’m on baby aspirin since a stroke over 13 years ago, and age 65) thanks.

    • debby

      Vitamin B6 200mg worked great for me and wearing a magnitic braclet

    • elf

      You could try Curcumin, Boswellia and Omega 3 from oily fish or Krill. You could also try Serrapeptase. Natural supplements take time to work, sometimes weeks or months of regular consistent use. Read up on them and be cautious if taking blood thinners such as Warfarin.

      This is also interesting:

  8. Abigail

    re: Glimiperide – do read the side effects information on this drug.

    • Mary

      I took Glimipride for type 2 Diabetes. Although it helped control my blood sugar a rare side effect is vision loss which I encountered. Now I have injections and laser treatments to help with my vision loss. Be careful when taking it.

  9. arleen
    new york

    I have a slght blood clotting defiency factor 11, will taking tumeric be dangerous for me. I havent started it yet, but have so much inflammation. Look forward to your responses.

  10. mary

    I find this information interesting

  11. M

    I have had nothing but positive results of taking two (2) teaspoons of turmeric per day. By results, I mean my Keratosis Pyloris a/k/a “KP” (sp?) – an awful red pimply rash on my upper arms is completely GONE, my complexion has improved (less large pores), it has helped me to maintain weight loss, my blood work comes back as “perfect,” according to my doctor, and whenever I take it for specific pain, that pain is GONE within a half an hour of taking it. Turmeric is a GOD GIVEN pain killer!!! Also, I make turmeric facial masks that have amazing results. Two teaspoons in low fat PLAIN yogurt is what I take. I find that the benefits work in concert with an overall healthy lifestyle. Stay away from too much sugar (eliminate sodas or any other sugary drinks , as well as alcohol). You can have some sweets once in a while – just go easy.
    Hope this helps.

  12. tf

    They answered the question earlier. They said 1/2 teaspoon twice daily with food or milk. Hope this helps. :)

  13. H.P

    Many have asked this and it has NOT been answered – what is the amount of Tumeric that should be taken and what should it be taken with and how often?

    • Pamela

      Have had bursitis of right hip for months, injections. no help.
      turmeric sounds great, would rather take tablets.

  14. Elizabeth

    I have been suffering from bursitis on the back of my right hand for three weeks. This is most likely from overuse. I do not like taking prescription medications or over the counter drugs. They all have side effects, especially with regular, long term use. If everyone read the enclosed drug leaflets, the drug companies would not be as rich and in control as they are.
    I was researching bursitis and a natural treatment when I came across your web site.
    I have some turmeric to put in some vegi capsules. Now I am interested in the connection with bioperene (black pepper). This is new to me. Also, the combination using boswellia with tumeric.
    Any updates on this?
    I am planning to take homoeopathy. Researching for the correct remedy.
    Any advice would be appreciated.

  15. LYNND

    Turmeric/Curcumin did not do wonders for my chronic pain from degenerative disc disease and fibro. That’s not to say it was entirely useless, however. After many years with a gastric erosion caused by NSAID use, which failed to heal long after I quit taking NSAIDs, last year’s endoscopy revealed that the erosion had at last cleared up, which I attribute to the Turmeric/Boswellia supplement that I had been taking daily for over a year. As for other benefits, I personally didn’t see any.
    Quite by accident, a caller to a nightly radio program I listen to mentioned a lesser-known caveat: To be effective Turmeric/Curcumin needs to be combined with an ingredient that helps facilitate its effectiveness. One of the ingredients that makes it more easy for the body to make use of is bioperene (black pepper). In fact, as I now understand it, the studies upon which Turmeric’s benefits have been based typically use the spice in combination with Meriva (a patented blend).
    From this I have deduced that one must be careful with Turmeric as a supplement because most of the products sold are *not* combined with one of the few ingredients that enable the body to make better use of it. (Don’t quote me on this but something like 80 percent of Turmeric’s potential effectiveness is lost if it is consumed alone.) I am going to put my own case to the test by purchasing a more bio-available formulation. If I see better results, I will report back.

    • Sandra Schifferle
      Lansing, KS

      I heard about turmeric and black pepper as well. Turmeric by itself has done absolutely nothing for my degenerative disc disease pain. I am going to try this combination & see if it helps at all. By itself, taking turmeric daily for months now to no effect has been a disappointment.

  16. K Barnard

    If you use acetaminophen-containing products (such as Tylenol) for minor aches and pains, or prescription drugs like Vicodin (which also contain it), please be very careful about the dose.
    As new research confirms, even a very slight overdose over the course of several days could be deadly.
    In fact, a new study, led by Dr. Kenneth Simpson of the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, found that you’re more likely to die from a “staggered overdose” (taking just a little bit too much for several days or weeks) of Tylenol than from a single large overdose.
    Among the people who took a staggered overdose of Tylenol, 37 percent died, compared to 28 percent of those who took one large overdose.
    Given the fact that Tylenol is one of the most common drugs in the world, with billions of doses purchased in the United States each year, you might be surprised to learn that taking just a bit too much, on a regular basis, could be deadly — but it’s a very real, and very significant, risk.
    Acetaminophen is the Number One Cause of Acute Liver Failure in the United States

  17. C Bond

    After researching for help with menopausal symptoms I found out that Turmeric could naturally increase Progesterone.
    I am a 53 year old menopausal woman and I can say that my hot flashes (flushes) have diminished greatly after using Turmeric for this problem.
    The hot flushes were becoming very intense and I would be kept awake all night. The Turmeric started working straight away.
    I also was getting very achy knees and the soles of my feet hurt to walk on when getting out of bed. Inflammation is a common menopausal symptom. I no longer have any of this pain thanks to taking Turmeric.
    I take 1 tsp of organic Turmeric twice sometimes 3 times daily and have done so for 2 months. I have found that alcohol and caffeine bring on the hot flashes and by using Turmeric I am still able to have a little of these without causing hot flashes.
    If I stop Turmeric for a few days all my symptoms return.
    I had tried other natural supplements such as Black Cohosh for my menopausal symptoms but found there were always some side effects when using them.
    I will also mention I have IBS and the Turmeric is not a problem for my stomach issues in fact I think it is slightly beneficial.
    I do not take any prescription medication for anything.

  18. P. mabry

    I am interested in turmeric as an antinflammatory. I have arthritis in my shoulder and my knees. How much of the powder is an appropriate dose and how should it be taken ?
    PEOPLE’S PHARMACY RESPONSE: Many people report taking 1/2 teaspoon twice daily, in food or milk.

  19. L Robertson

    Somewhere I think I read that turmeric was not easily digested into the blood stream. Also, that taking turmeric with an oil, such as olive oil, would increase the ability of the body to absorb. Is this correct?
    Should it always be simply taken with meals or not?

  20. chris m.

    I have bursitis and costochondritis, and diabetic nueropathy in my legs and feet. I am taking; prescriptions; naproxen (500mg),Tylenol-codeine (300mg/30mg). Every 12 hours. But that wasn’t enough to get rid of the pain, so my doc said I could add; 1 regular Tylenol and 1 regular Advil, every 6 hours. Sometimes that is still not enough. so I have added; 1 turmeric and 1 gaba. perday. Are there any interactions reactions I may notice with all of these ?
    ps. of course I also take Glimperide for my diabetes, 1 per day.

  21. GG

    I am very interested in the benefits of turmeric; however, your last comment about side effects and interactions without explaining what those are was decidedly unhelpful. No thinking person would start this without knowing what the dangers are. That part of your column today was wasted on the people who need it, but are afraid of it. Please publish the rest if the story.
    PEOPLE’S PHARMACY RESPONSE: Turmeric can trigger an allergic response, usually rash, in some people. It interacts with warfarin to increase the risk of bleeding.

  22. dp

    Turmeric really works for me for finger and knee arthritis. How do I know? twice I’ve been out of turmeric for two week periods, and pain, redness and visible swelling occurred in my little pinky fingers joints; all my other joints were achy. It doesn’t seem to affect the rosacea that periodically appears. That, I’m almost sure flares up whenever I ingest soy in any form. Try staying away completely from soy! it’s even in our tooth paste.

  23. K.W.

    How much turmeric is a good amount??

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