Turmeric for Fibromyalgia

A common disorder of the musculoskeletal region is known as fibromyalgia. This disorder is defined by pain in the musculoskeletal region of the entire body which results in enhancement of the sensation of pain by affecting the brain.

The symptoms of this condition include depression, headache, bowel syndrome, stiffness in muscles and tendons and body ache . The main cause due to which this condition occurs is not very clear however it can be triggered by certain conditions like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, bacterial or viral infection, etc. .

There are very few cures for the fibromyalgia condition but certain medicines are given to ease the symptoms . 

Turmeric for Fibromyalgia

Turmeric has been given the name of a miracle drug as it has been found to cure and treat numerous medical conditions in the most natural way with hardly any side-effects. This herb (Curcuma longa) comes under the same family as the ginger plant and is commonly used as a spice in the Asian cuisine. The roots of this perennial herb are dried and used in the powdered form. The turmeric spice has also been part of the Indian Ayurveda for more than a century as it has been used by the locals for skin and hair related problems.

Curcumin, a flavonoid found in turmeric, is known to have numerous medicinal properties like anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic, anti-arthritic and many more. Curcumin has been reported to cure numerous inflammatory conditions and other related conditions. There have been some reports which have stated that curcumin has the ability to treat the fibromyalgia condition. 

One such study reported the effect of curcumin extract on fibromyalgia. The study utilized flexofytol, an extract obtained from curcumin, on patients suffering from fibromyalgia and gout. This extract of curcumin has been reported to reduce pain associated with arthritis and tendonitis.

The researchers conducted a trail on 116 patients by giving them 4 tablets regularly for a few months.  The people who were given this treatment reported that there was a significant improvement in the symptoms of the disease.

There was a reduction in the pain, muscle cramps, dizziness and palpitations. The study did not report the exact mechanism of action of curcumin in improving the symptoms. However, the study did observe a reduction in pain which they speculated was due to the effect of the curcumin extract.

They hypothesized that the flexofytol targeted the grey nucleus of the brain. This grey nucleus is important for the control and regulation of the pain as compared to the limbic system which is active during the sleep. The study reported the positive effects of curcumin extract in most of the treated patients without any harmful side-effects . 

Home remedies are more likely to treat the condition of fibromyalgia as compared to the non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) as these drugs can have adverse side-effects. Moreover, these drugs offer less relief from pain than expected. Turmeric can also be used for a long time as it does not have any long term effects.

The anti-inflammatory property of curcumin also plays an important role in curing fibromyalgia. Since the symptoms of this condition include stiffness and inflammation in the muscles. In addition to this, curcumin also has anti-oxidant property which helps in lowering the level free radicals. Curcumin neutralizes these free radicals which are released from the cells. These free radicals damage the nearby cells and tissues by injuring them and leading to inflammation in the tissue.

The action of the free radicals results in increase in the oxidative stress in the tissues . 

Although there have been very few studies supporting the effect of curcumin on fibromyalgia, the medicinal properties suggest that it could be very effective natural treatment for this condition . Curcumin, being an excellent anti-inflammatory agent, is able to alter many pathways and factors involved in triggering of inflammation in the cells and tissues which leads to stiffness. 

The inflammatory process is triggered when the arachidonic acid (a type of fatty acid) is released from the cell membranes. The cyclooxygenase (COX- enzyme that is responsible for the formation of prostanoids) and the lipoxygenase (LOX- family of iron-containing enzymes that catalyze the dioxygenation of polyunsaturated fatty acids) enzyme act on the arachidonic acid which further forms inflammatory mediators.

The COX enzyme produces prostaglandins while the LOX enzyme converts the arachidonic acid into leukotrienes (inflammatory proteins). The COX enzyme is mainly of two types namely – COX1 and COX2. The COX1 enzyme is beneficial and produces a type of prostaglandins which provide protection to the stomach and are responsible for the maintenance of the clotting of the blood. The COX2 produces a specific type of prostaglandins which trigger inflammation and pain.

The conventional anti-inflammatory drugs tend to block both the LOX and COX enzymes. With this suppression the beneficial action of COX1 enzyme is also blocked which consequently blocks the protective action of the prostaglandins of the stomach and the gut. The blockage of COX1 also leads to thinning of the blood vessels which causes leaking in the blood vessels. 

There were some drugs which were designed specifically to block only the COX2 enzyme and not the COX1 enzyme. However, there was a problem with these drugs as these ended up affecting the COX1 of the endothelial cells which were found in the lining of the blood vessels. These cells are responsible for the maintenance of the smooth flow of the blood in the blood vessels by producing prostacyclin.

The suppression of the COX1 in the endothelial cells lead to increase in the stickiness of the blood and increase in the risk of clotting. This subsequently increased the risk of heart attack which was associated with intake of the anti-inflammatory drugs.

In such a scenario, it became important to find a natural alternative as these conventional drugs were not very effective. Curcumin has been reported to be significantly safer as compared to these drugs. It is known to suppress the action of the COX2 and LOX enzyme which further inhibits the production of downstream inflammatory mediators like leukotrienes.

Curcumin also blocks the release of the arachidonic acid from the cell membranes to suppress the inflammatory cascade.  In addition to this, curcumin also blocks the activation of the major factor known as NF-kB (nuclear factor kappa factor -activation factor for uncontrolled growth of cells) which is important for regulation and activating other factors in the inflammatory pathway.

The suppression of the activation of this factor reduces the inflammation and helps in slowing down the progression of the disease. What is the most interesting fact about the action of curcumin in the suppression of the inflammatory pathway is that there have been no reports stating that curcumin blocks the action of COX1 enzyme. This fact could be highly beneficial as curcumin follows the same mode of action as that of the conventional drugs but without blocking the other important enzymes like COX1 . 

Many doctors are now starting to give preference to this spice as a potential treatment for fibromyalgia. A director of the Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Practitioners Network highly recommends this spice for pain relief. According to him, the spice not only offers treatment for inflammation and pain but instead of having side-effects like the other conventional anti-inflammatory drugs, turmeric offers additional side-benefits. In other words, turmeric not only treats the specific disease but it also cures other problems that the patient may be suffering from like Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis and many more such conditions . 

A few studies and other supporting evidences clearly point out that turmeric could offer a potential treatment for fibromyalgia, there is a need for more supporting scientific evidences however, it has been reported in numerous studies that curcumin is highly beneficial in treating conditions like fibromyalgia. 

How to take turmeric 

Turmeric is used in the form of spice commonly in Asian cuisines. It is one of the most common household spices which are added to almost all the food items in India. It is added to the curries for its unique yellow color and unique pungent flavor. The powdered form is the most common form in which turmeric is used.

A pinch of this powder can be added to milk for a healthy lifestyle. In addition to this, it can also be added to herbal or decaffeinated tea for treating health issues. Turmeric is also a major component of several medical ointments and other skin creams. The turmeric powder mixed with healthy fats can also be directly applied on the affected region on the skin as a scrub. 

The main concern while consuming turmeric orally is that due to its low bioavailability it is difficult to be absorbed into the blood via the digestive track. This is due to the hydrophobic nature of the turmeric molecule. This problem can be overcome by mixing turmeric with healthy fats like olive oil, coconut oil and linseed oil.

These fats increase the bioavailability of the molecules making it easy to be absorbed. Turmeric can also be mixed with black pepper as it also increases the bioavailability of turmeric . 

Dosage

The recommended dosages of turmeric for adults are advised according to the form it is taken in. since, turmeric is available in powdered, fluid extract and tincture form, it can be taken according to preference. The cut roots of turmeric herb can also be taken up to 3g regularly. The powdered form of these roots can also be taken up to 3 g.

The standardized powder should be taken 3 times in a day within the range of 400-600mg. the fluid extracts and tincture are available in the form of drops. The fluid extract can be taken till 90 drops while the tincture should be taken till 30 drops (preferably 4 times a day) . 

Precautions

The spice turmeric has been considered safe for regular consumption as it has been eaten for thousands of years by people without any harmful side-effects. However, if one takes it for a medical treatment, certain precautions should be kept in mind. Intake of high amounts of turmeric regularly can result in problems in the stomach and ulcers.

Pregnant, lactating women, people taking mediation, patients suffering from gallstones and people about to undergo surgery should not take turmeric. In addition to this, combining turmeric with medications can alter their mode of action.

For example, taking turmeric with blood thinning medicines enhances the effect of these medicines. Similarly, taking turmeric with diabetes medicines also leads to lowering of blood sugar . 

Conclusion

The condition of fibromyalgia does not have a defined treatment; the medicines are given according to the symptoms like pain, inflammation, etc. However, these medicines do more harm than treatment as they have adverse side-effects.

Curcumin offers a reliable and safer natural alternative treatment without any harmful side-effects.

It is able to reduce the muscle pain and reduce the stiffness experienced due to inflammation. The supporting studies point out that curcumin could be used as potential treatment for fibromyalgia.