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4 Ways Turmeric Protects Bone Health
Growing age is one of the risk factors for loss of bone minerals and females are more susceptible to it. Apart from dietary and lifestyle changes, even The Golden Spice can help in protecting or healing your bones in case of related ailments.
1. Turmeric reduces pain and bone loss in arthritis
Turmeric can help with arthritis of any form - google image
Arthritis is inflammation of one or multiple joints and osteoarthritis is a type of arthritis characterized by the breakdown of bone and cartilage.
Couple of research studies show that curcumin works well in combination with arthritis medications and in fact, it even outperforms the regular painkillers.
Curcumin by virtue of its anti-inflammatory property and ability to manipulate multiple targets to prevent disease progression is said to be potentially therapeutic in osteoarthritis.
Type II collagen is one of the proteins that makes up the bone and in case of osteoarthritis it is degraded and released in the synovial fluid that lubricates the joints.
A clinical trial showed that 3-month treatment with curcumin reduced degradation of collagen in patients suffering osteoarthritis and improved other symptoms.
Bone turnover is a continuous process in which the bone is reabsorbed and new bone tissue is formed.
However, this process is altered in the case of osteoarthritis wherein initial stages the rate of resorption is more than the formation of new tissue. This makes the bones weak.
Research shows that Meriva (a bioavailable form of curcumin) can help in normalizing bone turnover and prevent the progression of osteoarthritis.
In fact, curcumin brings about this effect better than bisdemethoxycurcumin.
8-week treatment with Theracurcumin (a bioavailable form of curcumin) significantly reduced pain and dependency on steroid pain killers in individuals suffering from knee osteoarthritis.
2. Turmeric prevents loss of bone mineral in osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is a condition in which bone mineral is lost from the bone thus making them weak and susceptible to fractures. The causative factors could be estrogen deficiency, alcoholism, certain medications etc.
Osteoclasts are bone cells that reabsorb bone tissue. These cells are good when new bone tissue is being generated. However, in the case of osteoporosis, there are too many osteoclasts which absorb a lot of bone mineral thus making them fragile.
Quite a number of studies report that curcumin inhibits osteoclastogenesis or formation of bone resorbing cells and this of value in conditions like osteoporosis.
However, this effect is dose-dependent.
In the animal model of postmenopausal osteoporosis or loss of bone mineral, curcumin is proven to prevent 50% of such bone loss. In fact, researchers feel that curcumin can be a viable alternative to estrogen in protecting against postmenopausal osteoporosis.
But one study states that this protective effect is not achievable via dietary intake of curcumin.
Individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s are susceptible to osteoporosis. Animal study shows that curcumin can prevent bone mineral loss in Alzheimer’s and its anti-inflammatory property is said to be one of the causative factors.
Similarly, effects of curcumin have been proven in case of diabetes-induced osteoporosis.
Curcumin can protect against radiation therapy induced bone mineral loss by implementing its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Some medications like anti-tumor agents have genotoxic effects- they damage the DNA.
Cisplastin is one such medication which causes DNA damage and leads to increased formation of osteoclasts (bone reabsorbing cells), thus making the bones weak.
Animal study proves that curcumin, as an antioxidant, can protect bone cells from such damage.
Glucocorticoid is a steroid administered to help with arthritic pain. However, a high dose of this steroid for a long duration can cause loss of bone mineral. Curcumin, when administered with glucocortoid, can protect from such drug induced loss of bone mineral.
Spinal cord injury can cause rapid loss of bone mineral or osteoporosis such that despite of absence of any impact, bones become susceptible to fractures.
In an animal model of spinal cord injury, curcumin reduced production of inflammatory chemicals, reduced oxidative stress (imbalance between prooxidant and antioxidant properties) and reduced bone loss.
3. Turmeric can prevent/aid in bone cancer and metastasis
Tinh bột nghệ Kentary
Osteosarcoma is the most common primary bone cancer (it is not spread of cancer from another origin to the bone.)
Chang et al have presented some interesting results that curcumin can selectively inhibit the growth of osteosarcoma (bone cancer) cells and is not toxic to healthy osteoblast (bone forming) cells.
Lee et al have shown that curcumin can prevent proliferation and cause cell death of osteosarcoma cells.
Curcumin’s ability to inhibit osteoclastogenesis (formation of bone resorbing cells) is said to be beneficial in case of cancer-induced bone mineral loss or disease.
Along with its chemopreventive and anti-cancer potential, curcumin holds another benefit in cancer- it prevents cancer from spreading or metastasizing to the bone.
Curcumin prevents prostate cancer from spreading to the bone by increasing the activity of bone morphogenic protein-7, a protein that inhibits metastasis.
Similarly, curcumin can inhibit breast cancer induced bone metastasis.
4. Turmeric can help in the healing of and reduce the risk of bone fractures
No scientific evidence as such suggests the use of turmeric in case of bone fractures but traditionally local application of turmeric paste or ingestion of Turmeric Milk is said to help in the healing of bone fractures.
If you look at stages of bone fracture healing, there are instances where inflammation is a necessity and activity of certain bone cells like osteoclasts is necessary to generate new bone tissue.
Curcumin has anti-inflammatory activity and in some studies it is proven to inhibit the formation of osteoclasts.
But this effect depends on the dose. Also, curcumin’s anti-inflammatory effect is better than NSAIDS as it does not have side effects.
At low doses curcumin can boost immune responses in a controlled manner.
A couple of studies which mention that curcumin can inhibit formation of osteoclasts but still have beneficial effects on bone turnover (formation of new bone tissue) which is a vital process in bone repair. But it is important to note that these studies have been conducted with respect to other health conditions and not bone fracture.
In case of injury or infection, the body secretes a number of chemicals as a part of the defense mechanism.
However, this inflammatory process at times can become undesirable and cause redness, pain, and swelling.
Monocyte chemoattractant protein is one such inflammatory chemical that is expressed in case of chronic inflammation like stress-induced injury or arthritis. Curcumin is found to inhibit the expression of MCP-1 and thereby downregulate inflammation in bone marrow cells.
Curcumin can stimulate bone formation by increasing formation of enzyme that would stimulate stem cells to develop into bone forming cells. Also by preventing osteoporosis, turmeric can help in preventing the risk of bone fractures.