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Turmeric: A Case Study In Pain Relief

Turmeric powder and fresh turmeric on wooden background – herbs and spices

Turmeric is an effective painkiller. I learned about its inflammation-fighting power the hard way. But, I’m so glad I finally caught on.

I spend a lot of time on my computer. A couple of years ago, I stopped typing for a minute and was horrified to realize that I couldn’t move my right hand, and it hurt.

The pain passed until I started typing again. Now I was worried. It wasn’t just a fluke. I had a real problem.
I had carpel tunnel syndrome. Like it or not, I would have to have surgery. I don’t like going under the knife any more than the next guy. Still, I was sure I didn’t have any other options.

When I woke up from the operation, my hand was covered with a thick, soft bandage. I was in some pain, but, I recovered from the surgery in a few weeks.

Still, my right wrist hurt if I typed too long, tried to crochet, or brush my cats. Any sustained hand activity hurt, so I went back to my hand doctor.

“You have severe arthritis in your wrist,” the doctor informed me. “All I can do for you is give you a cortisone shot.”

The shot hurt like the Celestial Barbecue Pit. According to the doctor, the only way I could keep the pain at bay was to get shots every few months. I could also ease “bleed through” pain with over-the-counter drugs like Aleve™, or Ibuprofen™.

I couldn’t give up using my hands altogether. So, I resigned myself to a life of pain and painkillers.
About a year after my unhappy diagnosis, I read an article about turmeric. I was familiar with this spice as an ingredient in curry and a cheap substitute for saffron. I didn’t know how a mere kitchen spice could act as a painkiller, but my sore wrists and my dislike for NSAIDs, sure made me hope it would.

What Is Turmeric?

If you ever got a spice rack for Christmas, it may have contained turmeric. You may have wondered how to use it. If you’re typical of most cooks, you probably let it go stale because you didn’t know what to do with it. I certainly didn’t, even though I had a general idea of its uses.

Turmeric makes a great dye. Spill some on something you would prefer to keep white, like a new linen tablecloth, and you’ll see why Buddhist monks use it to dye their bright yellow robes.

Turmeric is native to South Asia. It is used in Indian curries. It has a peppery flavor that mixes well with other common curry ingredients such as cumin, and various kinds of pepper.

Turmeric is also the component in prepared mustards that make them yellow. it is also used as a coloring agent in some cheeses and cosmetics.

What Good Is Turmeric

In addition to its unfortunate decorating prowess, turmeric is a powerful anti-inflammatory. According to its proponents, it can do everything from relieving arthritis pain to curing cancer. The reason is its main active ingredient, curcumin.

Curcumin has been proven to prevent cell oxidation, which in turn protects your bloodstream from free radicals. It also works like OTC (over the counter) anti-inflammatory painkillers in that it stops your body from manufacturing inflammatory chemicals in the first place.

OTC NSAIDs can cause ulcers, bleeding and a host of other dangerous side effects. Turmeric, however, is easily tolerated by most people. Regardless, you should always consult your personal health provider before starting any supplement, especially if you are pregnant or nursing.

What Is Inflammation?

Inflammation is your body’s natural response to injury or illness. It is the marshaling of your body’s defenses against invaders. It’s the reason you recover from colds and cuts and hopefully more serious ailments.

Our bodies can only work with what we give them for fuel. If we don’t make healthy food choices, eventually our resources are spent, and our immune functions are compromised. Then, we are subject to chronic diseases, such as arthritis, diabetes, and cancer.

Turmeric To The Rescue

Modern life taxes the body’s immune response beyond its limits. Thanks to Industrial pollution we are constantly breathing in harmful particles that our bodies’ immune systems identify as invaders that need to be eliminated.

Household cleaners and cosmetics also bombard our bodies. Our drinking water is loaded with industrial waste, heavy metals and prescription drugs that negatively affect our health.

Even the food we eat contributes to our bodies’ inflammation problems. The preservatives used to keep packaged foods from going bad cause our immune systems to go into overdrive. The deep-fried foods we get from our fast food restaurants are also very damaging.

Finally, our food itself is often rendered toxic long before it reaches our kitchen tables. Fertilizers and pesticides contribute to the lack of wholesomeness in modern food. Meat animals eat feed packed with hormones and antibiotics. It is little wonder that our bodies’ immune systems just can’t keep up.

Not just spice rack turmeric

I finished my whole can of turmeric from the grocery store. My wrist still hurt, and I was beginning to lose hope that turmeric would give me any relief. People were still swearing by it, so I decided I’d better do more research.

The curcumin in turmeric has been proven effective against many conditions. In fact, over 600 chronic diseases have been successfully treated with this spice.

Diabetes and arthritis are just two of the disorders turmeric manages well. Even cancer has been successfully treated with curcumin. With this much good press, I was determined to find out why turmeric wasn’t working for me.

What I Found Out

The quality of the turmeric you buy depends on a few factors. If it is heated too much when it is packaged, its active elements can be destroyed.

Fillers and preservatives also compromise turmeric’s wholesomeness. It can also go stale before it reaches the consumer.

Even if the turmeric is fresh and properly processed, your body still has trouble absorbing it. Piperine, the prime element in pepper must be taken with turmeric to help your body take it in. In addition, turmeric is fat soluble and requires a little bit of fat to be absorbed into your bloodstream.

It Really Works!

I made myself a mixture of turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, and pepper. This is how I found out that turmeric is an effective dye.

After I cleaned up the mess, I mixed my creation with milk. I had been a little too handy with the cayenne pepper, but it still tasted great… well … interesting anyway.

The next time I made it, I substituted black pepper for the cayenne. It tasted a little less shocking. but it still made an incredible mess in my kitchen. Finally, I discovered capsules that both contained turmeric and pepper. Now, I could take my daily dose without needing a visit from the local fire department or resorting to every cleansing agent I could find in my kitchen.


Turmeric is a great addition to soups, stews, and rubs. It tastes great and served with a bit of pepper and fat is an effective painkiller.

If, like me, you decide to take the easy way out, make sure you select turmeric capsules that contain pepper. Other helpful ingredients include frankincense and ginger. Be careful to read the label before you buy, and choose a product made by a reputable company.

I have found that the hype surrounding turmeric is based in fact. After I took a good supplement for a couple of weeks, my wrist stopped hurting. Not only can I type for hours, but I was able to crochet 4 afghans for Christmas last December. I no longer have trouble brushing my cats, that is when I can catch them.




The statements in this article have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. You should consult your own health provider before taking anything new, including turmeric. The contents of this article are for your information only and are not meant to diagnose or treat any illness or condition.

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