People have used turmeric for a variety of health conditions for thousands of years. One of its compounds, curcumin, may have anti-inflammatory properties. Because inflammation is one of the causes of arthritis symptoms, turmeric may help people with arthritis pain and stiffness.
The Arthritis Foundation recommend turmeric for some people with arthritis. A systematic review and meta-analysis from 2016 found that taking 1,000 milligrams (mg) of curcumin for up to 12 weeks helped relieve pain and inflammation from arthritis. However, the authors note that the study was not large enough to produce definitive results.
Because turmeric is a cooking spice, people can use it in a variety of ways to flavor foods and beverages. Using turmeric in recipes can add inflammation-fighting power to meals and drinks throughout the day.
1. Turmeric tea
A person can sweeten turmeric tea with honey or cinnamon.
One of the most basic ways to consume turmeric is to make it into a tea.
To make turmeric tea, add a teaspoon (tsp) of turmeric to 4 cups of hot water and simmer for 10 minutes. Pure turmeric powder, grated turmeric, or ground, dried turmeric all work well.
If any flakes, grains or pieces of turmeric remain, strain the tea before drinking it.
People can try adding other spices or sweeteners to the tea for flavor, such as:
- 1 tsp of honey
- 1 tsp of ground cinnamon for flavor and extra anti-inflammatory effects
- fresh or dried ginger for flavor and extra anti-inflammatory effects
- freshly squeezed juice from a lemon or orange to add antioxidants and flavor
2. Golden milk
Golden milk is a milk-based liquid with added turmeric, which gives it a golden and creamy appearance. People may use dairy milk or a dairy-free alternative, such as coconut milk or almond milk.
This golden milk recipe suggests adding 1 tsp of turmeric to 2 cups of the milk of choice. Try adding a pinch of ground black pepper, which could enhance the effects of the turmeric.
Adding black pepper to golden milk may help the body absorb turmeric. A review of curcumin and health says that a compound found in black pepper can help increase the bioavailability of turmeric by up to 2,000%.
Many recipes suggest that adding extra fat, such as coconut or almond oil to the milk, may help the body absorb the turmeric better.
People can also add half a teaspoon of cinnamon powder, 1 tsp of honey, or 1 tsp of maple syrup for taste.
People can drink golden milk or use it as a base for other recipes, such as soups or dressings.
3. Golden milk espresso or coffee latte
Coffee lovers or those looking for a caffeine kick can add golden milk to their coffee. Prepare 6 ounces (oz) of warm golden milk as directed and add 2 oz of freshly brewed espresso or 4 oz of fresh coffee.
Breakfast or brunch
4. Turmeric smoothies
Turmeric blends well into many fruit smoothies. People who already have a favorite morning smoothie can try adding 1â€“2 tsp of turmeric powder to their recipe.
For a morning anti-inflammatory smoothie and an antioxidant boost, try this recipe. It includes a range of ingredients that help fight inflammation, including:
This recipe is another take on a turmeric smoothie. It includes banana, vanilla, ginger, cinnamon, and optional sweetener and provides a sweet and spicy flavor.
5. Turmeric golden milk oatmeal
Adding turmeric and blueberries to oatmeal can increase its anti-inflammatory power.
The Arthritis Foundation recommend eating oatmeal as part of an anti-inflammatory, high fiber diet.
Adding turmeric to oatmeal can increase its anti-inflammatory power. This recipe incorporates golden milk into rolled oats for a filling breakfast.
For an extra inflammation-fighting boost, add blueberries or strawberries. According to research, they are rich in anthocyanin, a flavonoid that has potent anti-inflammatory power, and antioxidants to help fight infections.
6. Scrambled eggs with turmeric
Eggs are a versatile food, and adding turmeric to them is an easy way for a person to increase their intake of this spice.
People can add 1 tsp of turmeric powder to their regular eggs, or follow a turmeric scrambled egg recipe, such as this one.
7. Green salad with turmeric dressing
Leafy green vegetables are nutritious and are among the best vegetables for people with arthritis to eat, according to the Arthritis Foundation. A base of spinach, kale, or swiss chard combined with other veggies, such as carrots and peppers, will create a filling salad that can help fight inflammation.
This recipe for an anti-inflammatory turmeric dressing can further enhance the inflammation-fighting power of vegetables. It includes a coconut cream and olive oil base combined with other seasonings and flavors.
8. Carrot, ginger, and turmeric soup
The Arthritis Foundation recommend ginger for its inflammation-fighting power. This creamy soup includes both turmeric and ginger along with carrots and lemon.
Pair this soup with a salad or fresh fruit for a filling lunch that could help with arthritis symptoms.
9. Coconut curry turmeric chicken
This recipe uses anti-inflammatory turmeric with chicken thighs, coconut milk, and cauliflower rice for a meal that's both anti-inflammatory and paleo-friendly.
10. Ginger turmeric meatballs
Turmeric works well in meatballs. It is possible to mix ground or powdered turmeric directly into an existing recipe or try this ginger and turmeric meatball recipe for a different way to make this classic dish.
Add turmeric to everyday recipes
People can experiment with turmeric by adding small amounts of the spice to their favorite recipes.
Turmeric usually works well when added to :
- stir fry dishes
When trying turmeric for the first time, use a smaller amount, such as a quarter teaspoon per serving, and increase the amount as needed.
Anti-inflammatory diet for arthritis
A person's diet plays an essential role in their body's inflammation level. While turmeric fights inflammation on its own, eating an anti-inflammatory diet can help lower inflammation even further, providing additional relief of arthritis symptoms.
The Arthritis Foundation recommend that people with arthritis adopt an anti-inflammatory diet. However, the specific types of foods vary slightly depending on the type of arthritis a person has.
Foods for rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory arthritis
For rheumatoid arthritis or other inflammatory arthritis, a person should eat:
- omega-3 fats found in cold-water fatty fish and flaxseeds
- olive oil
- high fiber whole grains, such as oatmeal, brown rice, and barley
- green tea
Foods for osteoarthritis
For osteoarthritis, a healthful diet should include:
- whole grains
- broccoli, brussels sprouts, and cabbage
- garlic, onion, and leeks
People who have osteoarthritis may also find some symptom relief after achieving a healthy weight. Being overweight can put extra stress on joints and cause more pain.
Foods for gout
Coffee with low fat milk may help with gout symptoms.
People who have gout may wish to follow a different type of diet because certain foods have links to gout attacks. Foods that are high in purine can cause a buildup of uric acid, which causes inflammation and pain.
However, the Arthritis Foundation caution that an overly restrictive diet for gout is not always enough to lower uric acid levels and can be difficult for people to follow.
Nonetheless, some foods to focus on that may help with gout symptoms include:
- red, blue, and purple berries
- skim milk and low fat dairy
- whole grains
People with arthritis may wish to avoid foods that promote inflammation, such as:
- saturated fats
- trans fats
- omega-6 fats found in some vegetable oils
- alcoholic drinks
- refined carbohydrates
- processed foods
People may also wish to try avoiding gluten and dairy products for a time to see if their arthritis symptoms improve.
Eating a healthful, anti-inflammatory diet that includes the turmeric may help people manage symptoms of arthritis and promote better health overall.
People can find turmeric in various forms in health food stores and supermarkets. Otherwise, choose between a range of options online:
People should speak with their doctor or nutritionist to determine the types of foods that may be best for them.
How much turmeric should I take for arthritis?
One meta-analysis concluded that 1,000 mg per day of curcumin was an effective dose for arthritis. Take care not to take higher doses as some research has linked this to iron deficiency. You can break the dosage up and take it twice a day with food. If taking supplements, follow the directions from the manufacturer.
Debra Rose Wilson, PhD, MSN, RN, IBCLC, AHN-BC, CHT
Answers represent the opinions of our medical experts. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.