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Will Rosemary and Turmeric Help Your Arthritis Pain?

Using rosemary and turmeric on food with hemp oil and black pepper to boost absorption helped one reader control joint pain.

People with arthritis pain face a difficult dilemma. Arthritis is a chronic condition, but the usual NSAID pain relievers such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB) and naproxen (Aleve) should be used only for a limited time. As a result, some sufferers have looked for natural approaches to ease the pain. Could common spices like rosemary and turmeric help?

Do Rosemary and Turmeric Fight Inflammation?

Q. I have arthritis in my knees and back. To minimize the pain, I have been using hemp oil, rosemary and turmeric.

I created a shaker with rosemary, turmeric and black pepper, which I use on my eggs and salads. Hemp oil is my replacement for olive oil and butter. I drizzle the hemp oil on toast and shake my rosemary-turmeric mix onto it. It is delicious and, more importantly, I do feel less discomfort. This is not a cure-all, but it does make a difference for which I’m thankful.

A. This is an intriguing combination. Rosemary and its constituent rosmarinic acid both have anti-inflammatory properties, which may be why your arthritis is less painful (Shakeri et al, Allergologia et Immunopathologia, Jan-Feb. 2019; He et al, Molecules, May 20, 2015).

Turmeric May Help:

A review of randomized controlled trials of turmeric extracts for arthritis found evidence that approximately 1,000 mg/day of curcumin can also ease joint pain (Daily et al, Journal of Medicinal Food, Aug. 2016). However, scientists report that curcumin is not highly bioavailable (Lopresti, Advances in Nutrition, Jan. 2018). Adding black pepper to your mixture along with hemp oil should aid its absorption.

Hemp Oil:

If your hemp oil contains any cannabinoids such as cannabidiol (CBD), it may also be helping against joint pain (Barrie et al, International Journal of Rheumatic Diseases, July 2017). The body makes compounds called endocannabinoids that occur naturally in the synovial fluid of the joints (Valastro et al, BMC Veterinary Research, Nov. 6, 2017). Ultimately, this suggests that cannabinoids might have some role to play in controlling joint inflammation.

Learn More:

To learn more about rosemary and turmeric as well as other ancient healing herbs, you may wish to consult our book, Spice Up Your Health. In addition, if you would like more information about arthritis and its treatment, you may want to listen to our interview with Dr. Beth Jonas. It is Show 1140: How Can You Manage Arthritis 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..
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