Both CBD and turmeric are thought to have great benefits for inflammation and ridding the body of toxins. But how does it work? The CBD and curcumin helps create a synergistic response, where the two substances together are greater than the effect provided by each on its own… Find out more about complementary medicines and the top five that people contact us about.
Whats the deal with….CBD and turmeric?
If CBD and turmeric offer potential benefits for inflammation, could it make sense to combine both?
15th August 2021
Both CBD and turmeric are thought to have great benefits for inflammation and ridding the body of toxins. They are now being combined as food, capsules, oil and coffees. But how does it work?
Turmeric is the spice that gives curries a vibrant yellow colour. It comes from the root of a plant called Curcuma longa. For centuries the compound curcumin contained in turmeric has been used in Indian medicine as an anti-oxidant. It also may have potential anti-inflammatory properties. This makes it perfect for helping to boost the similar properties that are associated with CBD.
There have been a few recent reviews and trials on turmeric for knee pain and arthritis.
A review from this year on turmeric for anti-inflammatory has revealed it may help with osteoarthritis (OA). The researchers concluded that over the ten studies examined when compared with a placebo, there appears to be a benefit of turmeric on knee OA pain and function.
In a small study from 2020 on 70 patients diagnosed with knee arthritis, it was discovered that those taking turmeric reported less knee pain.
CBD has also shown potential for soothing arthritic pain. In one study, researchers treated arthritic rats with a topical form of CBD. The rats showed a difference in inflammation levels and their condition was less developed.
It is unknown how CBD and turmeric combine. As they have main similar properties, it could be beneficial to combine both for certain conditions such as osteoarthritis.
One difficulty with taking turmeric is that it is incredibly hard to absorb due to its hydrophobic nature. This causes the molecules to stick together when they come into contact with water in the body. It is thought that adding pepper to turmeric will increase the absorption rate by 2000 percent.
Both CBD and turmeric have low bioavailability making it difficult to absorb them easily. However, they are both lipophilic which means adding fat can help them absorb better.
How to take CBD and turmeric
This is why CBD and turmeric as supplements come with an oil base. Different companies use different bases including rapeseed, hemp or flaxseed oil. Taking these compounds suspended in an oil automatically makes them more easily absorbed. The oil can be popped under the tongue for a few minutes before being swallowed.
Food and drink
Taking CBD and turmeric in food may be less effective than oil. Turmeric is often added to coffee as a latte which CBD can be dropped into. The lower level of fat in the drink, or in certain foods can make it unreliable for absorption but very tasty. Another problem is that the food has to travel through the digestive system first before any of the CBD or turmeric can be absorbed. Digestive acids and enzymes destroy some of the CBD before it can be absorbed. The small amount that gets through the intestinal wall will then be metabolised by the liver before it reaches the rest of the body.
Unfortunately, capsules are also subject to being passed through the digestive system. This could give a slower effect in comparison to the oil which is absorbed through the oral mucous membranes much faster.
CBD with curcumin provides one-two punch for pain, inflammation
CBD and curcumin helps create a synergistic response, where the two together are greater than the effect provided by each on its own
Research reveals that chronic inflammatory diseases are expected to “increase persistently” through the year 2050. This means continuously elevating rates of diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases, and even allergies – an environment primed for the new CBD and curcumin anti-inflammatory combination.
Many factors can contribute to this increased chronic inflammation in the body. Regular exposure to environmental pollutants and toxins, poor diet, lack of exercise, chronic stress, and a dysfunctional immune system can all lead to elevated inflammation levels and susceptibility to viruses.
One way to help patients potentially reduce their body’s inflammation is by recommending anti-inflammatory supplements. Two all-natural ingredients that have been scientifically shown to provide this effect are CBD and curcumin.
CBD and inflammation
CBD stands for cannabidiol and is one of many cannabinoids found in the hemp plant. Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD does not create a psychoactive effect. It works by interacting with the body’s endocannabinoid system and influencing receptor activity, resulting in lower levels of inflammation and pain.
A 2010 study published in the journal Future Medicinal Chemistry calls cannabinoids “novel anti-inflammatory drugs” due to their impact on immune cells located in the body’s CB1 and CB2 receptors. Specifically, cannabinoids have been found to suppress cytokine and chemokine production while increasing the response of T-regulatory cells.
This study further indicates that cannabinoids offer a protective effect as well by stopping the normal death of nontransformed cells in the central nervous system. This is beneficial in cases where autoimmune conditions such as multiple sclerosis exist.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse adds that, though clinical trials are still ongoing in this area, CBD appears to also offer analgesic, anti-tumor, anti-psychotic, anti-anxiety, and anti-seizure effects.
Curcumin as an anti-inflammatory
Curcumin, an active ingredient in turmeric, has also been found to have anti-inflammatory properties as well.
In a 2017 review of curcumin’s effects on health, researchers noted that turmeric can help in the management of inflammatory conditions. It also offers benefits with regard to inflammation caused by exercise, helping to reduce the resulting muscle soreness and improve recovery and performance.
A 2013 study in the British Journal of Pharmacology explains that curcumin works by blocking the action and production of the cytokine TNF -α. Furthermore, it offers patients an orally-bioavailable treatment option that is safe and less expensive than many prescription drugs designed to provide the same effect.
The synergy of combined CBD and curcumin supplements
Some manufacturers are now offering supplemental products that include both CBD and curcumin. This combination product helps create a synergistic response, which states that the effect of two substances together is often greater than the effect provided by each on its own.
In addition to being more powerful, a combination CBD and curcumin supplement provides patients a simpler anti-inflammatory supplemental regimen. Instead of having to buy two individual supplements — which can also mean increased cost — the patient is able to achieve the same (or better) effect with one.
Helping patients select a quality CBD and curcumin supplement
Sometimes patients purchase a low-quality supplement and, therefore, don’t get the results they expect. This experience causes them to lack belief in the value of supplements. That’s why it’s helpful to educate patients about the differences between a high-quality and low-quality supplement.
Higher quality supplements are those that, first and foremost, are made with high-quality ingredients. In the CBD world, this means using a good strain of hemp, but also the product containing full-spectrum CBD. This means that, in addition to CBD, it also contains other cannabinoids found in the hemp plant, providing even more health-related benefits.
Higher quality supplements are also those created by following Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP). These supplements have undergone rigorous testing, further reinforcing their safety and efficacy.
Explaining this to patients help them better understand that not all supplements are created equal. It also helps them recognize that if they’re not getting the results they desire, it is possible that it is that specific supplement — and not the ingredient it contains — that is potentially the cause.
Educating patients about bioavailability
Part of the supplemental discussion includes talking about the amount of ingredients a product contains versus how much of those substances the body can actually use.
It’s not uncommon for people to think that their body is able to effectively absorb the total amount of the vitamins, minerals, and other ingredients contained in a particular supplement. However, this is not always the case.
Bioavailability can be impacted by a number of factors. Dosage amount, product form, method of intake, and the body’s ability to metabolize that ingredient can all impact the amount it is able to actually use.
For this reason, it’s helpful if the supplement contains ingredients that aid in bioavailability. This can increase the effect of the product simply by making more of the anti-inflammatories available for use.
Complementary treatments and arthritis – from turmeric to cannabis oil
People use complementary medicine for many different reasons, including:
- wanting to use more natural treatments
- their symptoms aren’t fully controlled by conventional medicine.
Read more about complementary therapies which can help to ease the symptoms of arthritis, from yoga to meditation.
Are they right for me?
As with all complementary treatments, different things work for different people and it isn’t possible to predict which might be the most useful or effective.
There are some key points to consider if you’re thinking about using any complementary treatments.
- What are you hoping to achieve? Pain relief? More energy? Better sleep? Reduction in medication?
- What are the financial costs?
- Is there any evidence for their effectiveness?
Are complementary medicines safe?
Complementary medicines are relatively safe, although you should always talk to your doctor before you start any new treatment.
In specific cases they may not be recommended, for example, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, or they may interact with certain medication.
A starter for five
Here we share a spotlight on the most popular complementary medicines that people call our helpline about.
It’s thought that turmeric can possibly reduce inflammation, which could help people with arthritis.
People with knee osteoarthritis who took part in a research trial reported improvements to their pain levels after taking turmeric. The evidence is limited however, as it is from just one trial. What evidence there is suggested that people only had minor side-effects after taking turmeric.
Turmeric can be bought from health food shops, pharmacies and supermarkets in the form of powder.
Glucosamine sulphate and glucosamine hydrochloride are nutritional supplements. Animal studies have found that glucosamine can both delay the breakdown of and repair damaged cartilage.
The results for the use of glucosamine for osteoarthritis are mixed and the size of the effect is modest. There’s some evidence that more recent trials and those using higher-quality methods are less likely to show a benefit.
Capsaicin is taken from chilli peppers. It works mainly by reducing Substance P, a pain transmitter in your nerves. Results from randomised controlled trials assessing its role in treating osteoarthritis suggest that it can be effective in reducing pain and tenderness in affected joints, and it has no major safety problems. Evidence for its effectiveness for fibromyalgia is related to a single trial.
Other names: Axsain®, Zacin®, chilli, pepper gel, cayenne
Capsaicin is licensed in the UK for osteoarthritis and you can get it on prescription in the form of gels, creams and plasters.
There are no major safety concerns in applying capsaicin gel/cream. A review of capsaicin applied to the skin to treat chronic pain (not specifically related to osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis or fibromyalgia) concluded that around one third of people experience a reaction around the area where the treatment is applied. It’s important to keep capsaicin away from your eyes, mouth and open wounds because it will cause irritation. There have been no reported drug interactions.
Fish oils are rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids, which have strong anti-inflammatory properties. Fish liver oil is also a rich source of vitamin A (a strong antioxidant) and vitamin D (which is important for maintaining healthy joints).
Evidence suggests that fish body oil can improve the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Unconfirmed evidence also suggests a combination of fish body and liver oils might also be useful in the long term, particularly in reducing the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). There isn’t enough evidence for the use of fish liver oil for osteoarthritis.
Omega-3 fatty acids also play a role in lowering cholesterol and triglyceride levels in your blood, so they can reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke in people with inflammatory arthritis.
In the UK, dietary guidelines recommend eating two portions of fish a week, including one oily. Fish oil is considered to be well tolerated at this dose.
At the correct doses, side-effects are usually minor and uncommon.
Cannabis oil (CBD)
CBD is type of cannabinoid – a natural substance extracted from the cannabis plant and often mixed with an oil (such as coconut or hemp) to create CBD oil. It does not contain the psychoactive compound called tetrahydrocannabidiol (THC) which is associated with the feeling of being ‘high’.
Research in cannabinoids over the years suggests that they can be effective in treating certain types of chronic pain such as pain from nerve injury, but there is currently not enough evidence to support using cannabinoids in reducing musculoskeletal pain. We welcome further research to better understand its impact and are intently following developments internationally.
CBD oil can be legally bought as a food supplement in the UK from heath food shops and some pharmacies. However, CBD products are not licensed as a medicine for use in arthritis by MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Authority) or approved by NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) or the SMC (Scottish Medicines consortium).
We know anecdotally from some people with arthritis, that CBD has reduced their symptoms. If you’re considering using CBD to manage the pain of your arthritis, it’s important to remember it cannot replace your current medicines, and it may interact with them, so please do not stop/start taking anything without speaking to a healthcare professional.
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