A highly promising pilot study published in the journal Phytotherapy Research[i] broke new ground in 2012 by identifying a safe and effective natural alternative to drug therapy in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a painful and debilitating autoimmune disease that can lead to a substantial loss of mobility and function, if not adequately treated. While gradual disfiguration of flexible joints in the fingers are a characteristic sign of this disorder, RA has the potential to affect many tissues and organs by contributing to chronic, systemic inflammatory activity. Estimates are that RA activity beyond the joints, also known as extra-articular rheumatoid arthritis, affects 15-25% of all individuals afflicted by the condition.[ii]
Standard treatment often involves the use of pharmacological painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs intended to suppress symptoms but not alter the underlying trajectory of the disease. In some cases steroids, and even chemotherapy class drugs like methotrexate are employed, which carry serious if not also on rare occasion lethal side effects.
In the study titled, "A randomized, pilot study to assess the efficacy and safety of curcumin patients with active rheumatoid arthritis," forty-five patients diagnosed with RA were randomized into three groups with patients receiving curcumin (500 mg) and diclofenac sodium (50 mg) alone or their combination. Curcumin is the most thoroughly researched pharmacologically active component of the spice turmeric, and which gives this root its bright, saffron colored hue. Diclofenac sodium is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) sold under over 100 different trade names throughout the world, e.g. Aclonac, Cataflam, Voltaren.
The primary study endpoints were reduction in Disease Activity Score (DAS) 28. The secondary endpoints included American College of Rheumatology (ACR) criteria for reduction in tenderness and swelling of joint scores.
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