Part 1: What is Arthritis? And how does Turmeric Play a role?

Whenever a disease or a chronic condition is mentioned most of us associate it with the geriatric population! It’s almost like we believe that this is something that will never affect us. We are immune to all of it.

"I’m too young", "I’m physically active", "I eat healthy" are the things that we tell ourselves whenever any disease is mentioned.

Yes, it's good to feel that age is on our side, all the better if we have conditioned ourselves to eat healthily & be physically active. But how many of us know what’s the right components of eating healthy, what levels of physical activity actually help maintain health?

 Everyone’s idea of eating healthy varies! To one person salads are very healthy & another would say my burger has lettuce, tomatoes & onions, so that’s healthy too!

This article discusses a condition that has been globally rising consistently. Unfortunately, most of the time people relate it to a natural process of ageing, not realizing that it’s a condition that could be controlled in terms of progression, provided it’s caught in the earlier stages.

Arthritis has always been associated with the geriatric population (probably true decades back) but today medical practitioners find many young patients coming to them with the classical signs & symptoms of Arthritis. This could be associated with the changing lifestyles pattern of eating & reduced physical activity.

A good percentage of the population may not even go to the doctor & may prefer to just pop in a few pain killers, as one of the main symptoms is pain due to the inflammation of the joints. 

So, let’s just briefly understand Arthritis, the various types & why it happens so that we could explore options to probably shield ourselves from the same.

Medical statistics suggest that more than 350 million people have Arthritis globally (Global RA network 2021)

The latest meta-analysis study findings suggest that the prevalence is as high as 16 % in individuals aged above 16 years, 23% in ages 45 & above. This study concludes that the global prevalence of Knee OA has been on the rise over the years & this consistently peaked as age increased.1

Arthritis or commonly known as Joint Disease is inflammation of one or more of the joints, such as the knees, knuckles, wrists or ankles. Arthritis almost always starts with joint inflammation but can progress into joint pain, swelling & stiffness

There are many different types of arthritis (more than 50 & a few very uncommon ones as well) but the most common ones are:

  • Osteoarthritis 
  • Rheumatoid arthritis.

Osteoarthritis normally affects the bigger joints & Rheumatoid arthritis is the smaller joints (an example is finger joints).

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis which can affect millions of people worldwide. It occurs when the normal protective cartilage that cushions the bones wears down over a period of time

Although Osteoarthritis can damage any joint, it most commonly affects joints of your knees, hands, hips & spine.

Osteoarthritis symptoms can be managed over a period of time but the damage cannot be reversed. Staying active, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, receiving certain treatments might slow the progression of the disease & help improve the pain & joint function.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disorder that can affect more than just your joints. In some people, the condition can damage a wide variety of body systems including skin, eyes, lungs, heart & blood vessels.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder where your immune system mistakenly attacks your own body’s tissues.

Unlike the wear & tear damage of Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid arthritis affects the lining of your joints, causing a painful swelling that can eventually result in bone erosion & joint deformity! Early Rheumatoid arthritis affects the small joints first, particularly the joints that attach your fingers to your hands & your toes to your feet. As the disease progresses, symptoms often spread to wrists, knees, ankles, elbows, hips & shoulder.

It’s the inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis that can damage other parts of the body as well. Today there are new treatment options available that can reduce the severity of pain & progression but severe rheumatoid arthritis still can cause severe physical disabilities.

The common thread which comes out in both these conditions is that there is inflammation, which causes swelling of the joints. This then leads to pain & the pain further radiates to the other parts. It’s a chronic condition where one can only control the pain which is just a temporary solution.

Not so fun facts about arthritis!!

Women are more susceptible to both types of arthritis!

  • Women are 3 times more likely to get Rheumatoid arthritis than men are! 2
  • More than 60% of osteoarthritis incidences are in women 3
  • Men are likely to develop arthritis before the age of 55, but more women 4 than men develop arthritis after 55 5
  • Women report more pain than men from arthritis

Why are we women at this disadvantage?

There are 3 possible reasons as per medical research:

  • Changes in hormone levels: Enough evidence suggests that women’s susceptibility to osteoarthritis may be related to hormone levels 6
  • Hormone levels fluctuate with menstruation cycles & completely change during Menopause.
  • The difference in the Musculoskeletal system & biomechanics
  • Tendency to carry excess weight

This unfortunate phenomenon needs to be addressed in more depth so ladies,  keep an eye out if you want to know more about how to overpower this disadvantage!

In simple words, Arthritis is the inflammation of joints. There are many new treatment options available that help in taking care of this inflammation which then reduces the pain associated with it & one feels better because of the symptomatic pain relief. But alas, one cannot reverse the damage caused!

Did you know that nature already has blessed you with a potent anti-inflammatory nutrient? It’s Curcumin the active ingredient in turmeric which has been shown to improve the systemic markers of oxidative stress & reduce inflammation. One of the most researched properties of Curcumin is its anti-inflammatory activity so much so that it’s been crowned as the “Inflammation Warrior”!

So, how do you incorporate the right curcumin into your diet, to shield yourself from chronic diseases like Arthritis?

Stay tuned to know more about the health benefits of adding the right curcumin into your daily diet & be health assured.

 

Dhow X Dr Priya Cholayil

A pharmacy graduate with expertise in Alternative medicine. Having spent 25 years in the pharmaceutical industry now finding answers/solutions to various health conditions in alternative medicine. Investing time & thought into studying Superfoods with an MD in alternative medicine specializing in Dietetics & Nutrition.

 

References:

  1. Research paper /Volume 29.100587,December 01,2020 published in Lancet
  2. Medscape 2021
  3. Summit Orthopaedics ,2019
  4. Intermountain healthcare,2016
  5. Arthritis health,2021
  6. Osteoarthritis Cartilage ,2017
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