For occasional aches and pains, it’s usually safe to take an over-the-counter (OTC) painkiller as directed. However, if you’re dealing with chronic pain, medicating on a daily basis can cause potentially serious side effects, especially in those with kidney or liver disease. The good news? A recent study has found that one supplement may help cut your pain in half, without the use of more traditional medication. Though you should always discuss supplements with your doctor before taking them, experts say these particular pills are unlikely to come with any serious side effects. Read on to learn how to naturally reduce your pain, and why the benefits don’t stop there.
Chronic pain is more common than you might think.
Though chronic pain can be invisible to onlookers, it can have a serious impact on the health and wellbeing of those who experience it. And unfortunately, it’s more common than you might think. A 2022 study published in the medical journal Pain found that 20 percent of adults in the U.S.—over 50 million people—reported having pain every day, or most days.
The most common forms of pain reported were back, hip, knee, and foot pain. “Respondents with chronic pain reported limitations in daily functioning, including social activities and activities of daily living,” the study authors noted.
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Taking this supplement can cut your pain in half.
Many people reach for an over-the-counter or prescription painkiller when discomfort strikes, but a new study suggests these interventions may not always be necessary. That’s because there’s a supplement that reduces pain by half: curcumin, the active polyphenolic compound found in turmeric.
In fact, a 2019 study published in the journal BMC compared the effects of taking three 500 mg capsules of curcumin and two 50 mg tablets of the painkilling non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) diclofenac, and found that the two products reduced moderate to severe knee pain at a comparable rate. To be precise, 94 percent of those taking curcumin and 97 percent of those taking diclofenac reported at least a 50 percent improvement in their pain.
Curcumin has fewer side effects than traditional pain relief methods.
The benefits of taking curcumin were on par with the benefits of taking a standard painkiller, but the researchers saw one clear advantage to the supplement: it came with fewer side effects. For instance, 28 percent of subjects who took diclofenac required treatment for stomach symptoms after taking the medication, while none of the study subjects taking curcumin required such an intervention.
However, it is worth noting that only one type of traditional painkiller was used to compare effectiveness and side effects. Other painkillers, or the same painkiller at an adjusted dosage, may be more effective or come with fewer side effects than a 50 mg dose of diclofenac.
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Curcumin may have several other benefits, experts say.
Besides reducing pain, curcumin supplements may have a range of other benefits, research suggests. “Mounting evidence from preclinical studies shows that curcumin modulates numerous molecular targets and exerts antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anticancer, and neuroprotective activities,” notes the Micronutrient Information Center at Oregon State University. The Cleveland Clinic adds that “with its ability to help reduce inflammation and oxidation, turmeric could lower the risk of heart disease.”
Speak with your doctor for more information about how turmeric or curcumin supplements may improve your pain or offer other health benefits.
Best Life offers the most up-to-date information from top experts, new research, and health agencies, but our content is not meant to be a substitute for professional guidance. When it comes to the medication you’re taking or any other health questions you have, always consult your healthcare provider directly.