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How Can You Use Turmeric to Ease Gout Pain?

How Can You Use Turmeric to Ease Gout Pain?
Man with swollen deformed inflammed left foot toe joint with painful gout

Gout is a very painful condition in which uric acid in the bloodstream precipitates out into the joints. They become extremely red and inflamed and very tender to the touch. While certain medications can help alleviate an acute attack, some people would rather minimize the drugs they use to ease gout pain. Could the yellow spice turmeric help?

Does Turmeric Ease Gout Pain?

Q. I am an MD with gout. I try to avoid purines and oxalates in my diet, and I also try to avoid NSAIDS because of their side effects (cardiac events, ulcers, kidney problems).

Remedies like cherry juice, cider vinegar, lemon juice, excess hydration or avoiding meats, beer and wine have not been very helpful. I do not want to take allopurinol or colchicine. But I started taking turmeric capsules and after five days, my foot is much better. Any comments?

Studies on Turmeric:

A. Gout is due to uric acid crystals depositing in joints. A study in mice demonstrated that turmeric nanoparticles lowered uric acid levels (Medicina, Jan. 11, 2019). A study in humans, however, failed to show similar benefit (Journal of Dietary Supplements, May-June, 2021). However, a more recent review warns that such studies are faced with still unsolved technical problems, and it is not possible to determine whether or not turmeric lowers uric acid in human blood (Journal of Dietary Supplements, Sep. 4, 2020).

The active ingredient, curcumin, does have anti-inflammatory activity (Phytotherapy Research, June 2018). That may explain the benefit you have experienced. The usual dose of curcumin is 500 to 2,000 mg per day of a concentrated extract. To get benefit from turmeric itself, which has lower levels of curcuminoids, you would need to take at least a tablespoon a day.

You are not the first one to mention that turmeric seems to ease gout pain. As we mentioned, turmeric is an important ingredient in curry. This reader found that curry soup made quite a difference for his joints.

Curry Soup for Gout:

Q. I suffer from gout from time to time. Have you ever heard of curry relieving the symptoms? My wife made a soup containing curry and within one hour after eating it, I could feel the pain going away. I ate the soup the next two nights and my gout was 95 percent gone. This worked much better than cherries for me.

A. Thanks for the tip. The yellow spice in curry powder is turmeric. It has been used for centuries in the traditional medical system of India to treat inflammation. Research in animals confirms that turmeric extracts can reduce joint swelling from experimental arthritis (Journal of Natural Products, March 2006).

We include a recipe for cabbage curry in our book, Recipes & Remedies From The People’s Pharmacy. This dish also includes celery, which has helped some readers ease gout pain. 

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
Citations
  • Kiyani MM et al, "Evaluation of turmeric nanoparticles as anti-gout agent: Modernization of a traditional drug." Medicina, Jan. 11, 2019. DOI: 10.3390/medicina55010010
  • Bupparenoo P et al, "Effect of curcumin on serum urate in asymptomatic hyperuricemia: A randomized placebo-controlled trial." Journal of Dietary Supplements, May-June, 2021. DOI: 10.1080/19390211.2020.1757798
  • McMullen MK, "Curcumin/Turmeric: Their effect on serum uric acid remains unknown." Journal of Dietary Supplements, Sep. 4, 2020. DOI: 10.1080/19390211.2020.1811827
  • Soleimani V et al, "Turmeric (Curcuma longa) and its major constituent (curcumin) as nontoxic and safe substances: Review." Phytotherapy Research, June 2018. DOI: 10.1002/ptr.6054
  • Funk JL et al, "Turmeric extracts containing curcuminoids prevent experimental rheumatoid arthritis." Journal of Natural Products, March 2006. DOI: 10.1021/np050327j
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