Turmeric for Gout

Gout is a type of arthritis that is caused by the buildup of uric acid in your body, either because your body can't get rid of it effectively or because your body produces an excess amount of uric acid. A painful big toe is often the first sign of gout, but gout can affect any joint in the body. It is painful because the acid forms crystals in the joints and causes inflammation. Men over age 40 are the most commonly afflicted, but anyone can get it at any time -- particularly, if it runs in the family. Taking turmeric may help gout, because it has anti-inflammatory properties, but little research has been done to verify this. Consult a doctor before taking turmeric as a medicinal.

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Propertis of Turmeric

Turmeric, Curcuma longa, has been used for more than 4,000 years as a medicinal for a variety of ailments, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center 12. It originated in India, and is often used as part of both traditional Chinese and Indian medicine -- known as Ayurveda -- as an anti-inflammatory, as well as to treat digestive and liver problems. The main active ingredient in turmeric is an antioxidant called curcumin. Antioxidants help fight free radicals, which can damage or kill cells in the body. Curcumin also reduces the levels of two enzymes that cause inflammation. The yellow coloring commonly associated with turmeric is also due to curcumin.

Gout Treatment

Research based specifically on the effects of turmeric on gout is not available, but smaller studies on related conditions have indicated that the anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric may be beneficial. One clinical inquiry into the available evidence, published in the March 2011 edition of "The Journal of Family Practice," reported that turmeric was beneficial in reducing the inflammation found in rheumatoid arthritis 3. Another study, published in 2009 in the "Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine," found similar benefits for those suffering from osteoarthritis 4. The researchers reported that a curcumin extract was at least as effective as ibuprofen in reducing inflammation. The University of Maryland Medical Center recommends turmeric as a possible treatment for gout 12.

Proper Administration

Turmeric is a common ingredient in many foods, but it is best to take a specific dose for medicinal purposes, either in the form of a tincture, extract or powder. You may also use the raw root. The proper dosage will vary depending on your age, weight and what other medications you are taking, but MedlinePlus reports that the effective dosage for inflammation found in rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis was 500 milligrams taken twice daily in the extract form. It's recommended to consult a qualified health practitioner before taking turmeric, or curcumin extract, to obtain the proper dosage and discuss any potential complications that might arise.

Potential Problems

Taking turmeric is categorized as likely safe, according to MedlinePlus, but mild side effects may occur. Commonly reported side effects include nausea, dizziness, upset stomach and diarrhea. Avoid taking turmeric if you are pregnant, breast-feeding, have gallstones or suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease. Turmeric can interact with certain medications, particularly blood thinners, diabetes medications or drugs that reduce stomach acid. Herbs that clot the blood, such as angelica and ginseng, may also interact with turmeric. Stop using turmeric at least two weeks prior to a scheduled surgery, as it may affect your blood's ability to clot properly.