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What is Inflammatory Arthritis and How it is Treated

Arthritis generally refers to joint pain or joint disease. There are more than 100 types of arthritis and related conditions known today, including inflammatory arthritis, infectious arthritis, osteo-arthritis, and metabolic arthritis.  Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the US.1

Inflammatory arthritis occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks the joints resulting in uncontrolled inflammation. A successful immune response against infection or injury will promote repair at the site and then resolve itself. When the resolution is ineffective, the inflammation persists and results in tissue damage that could potentially cause joint erosion and damage of internal organs.17  Examples of inflammatory arthritis include rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and gout.

Early diagnosis and aggressive treatment are critical in slowing the disease and preventing permanent joint damage due to inflammatory arthritis. Treatment goals include reducing disease activity, reducing pain, improving function, and preventing further joint damage.1

Comparison of three common treatment options for inflammatory arthritis:1,16

Micronized Turmeric for Treating Inflammatory Arthritis

Turmeric is a spice that is well known for its medicinal properties in several south Asian cultures. Turmeric is not only a common ingredient of culinary recipes; it is also essential for many home remedy concoctions successfully used through the ages.

Scientific investigations have revealed the polyphenol Curcumin as the reason behind the success and popularity of this ancient spice. Curcumin has been shown to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It is known to aid in the management of arthritis along with a variety of oxidative and inflammatory conditions.3,16  The effectiveness of naturally available curcumin, as a stand-alone treatment for common ailments, has not been clinically significant, due to its poor bioavailability. Several additional components like piperine, encapsulation with cyclic oligosaccharides, liposomes, polylactic-co-glycolic acid (PLGA),etc. are known to aid in improving the absorption of curcumin.4,5 Recent studies with micronized turmeric, a formulation in which turmeric is powdered into micro particles, has shown to improve the bioavailability several fold compared to other formulations of turmeric.6,7

Turmeric for Treating Inflammatory Disease

The therapeutic effect of curcumin in arthritis is due its ability to suppress biochemical pathways in the body that cause inflammation.8 COX-2 (CycloOxygenase-2) is a key enzyme that mediates inflammation.9 Suppression of COX-2 therefore results in reduced inflammation and arthritic relief.


Multiple clinical trials using COX-2 inhibitors have indicated adverse effects of treatments including increased risk for abdominal pain, hypertension, heart failure and edema.10 On the other hand, curcumin the active component of turmeric is safe with no known side effects.2 Novothera’s micronized turmeric curcumin exhibits 126 times greater inhibition of COX-2 enzymes when compared to the other variants of turmeric studies in rats, using injury induced inflammation followed by treatment with 1mg/kg and 5mg/kg bodyweight of curcumin showed that tissue injury was prevented in curcumin treated rats when compared to the untreated group.12

The anti-inflammatory action of curcumin is mediated by suppressing NF-kB (Nuclear Factor kappa B), a key regulator that in turn activates several inflammation mediators, including COX-2.13, 14 Healthy cells contain NF-kB in an inactive form, which is then activated by cell injury. As mentioned above, in the healthy state, inflammation helps repair after injury and then resolves. However, in conditions like inflammatory arthritis, it gets dysregulated and remains active for longer than necessary. Turmeric suppresses chronically active NF-kB, thereby preventing COX-2-mediated inflammation.


 Written by Shobhana Natarajan and Neela Dinesh, PhD., medical writers.

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