You have powerful, natural tools at your disposal.
Your patients know about pain. Whether they suffer from occasional pulled muscles from work or projects around the home, or have dealt with chronic conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, they look to you and your practice for much-needed help.
In addition to regular therapeutic adjustments, there are supplemental ingredients that can dramatically improve your patients’ quality of life as well.
Of the widely studied botanical compounds, curcumin from turmeric (Curcuma longa) is one of the most valuable. Pain relief is just one of its abilities, but it is a great contender on that strength alone.
Curcumin reduces COX-2 activity without harming the liver or stomach lining, or causing issues with addiction. Clinical work with curcumin regarding pain has yielded impressive results that match—or outperform— prescription medications.
A 500 mg twice-daily dosage of curcumin (blended with turmeric essential oil) can alleviate symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. A clinical study compared its efficacy to diclofenac sodium and explored how well the botanical and drug would work in combination as well.
In the Disease Activity Score in 28 Joints (DAS28) patient assessment, the group taking curcumin alone saw the most reduction in disease symptoms, followed by those using the combination of curcumin with diclofenac sodium. The group using diclofenac sodium alone scored last. In both curcumin groups, there were no drop outs due to adverse effects, but in the diclofenac sodium group, almost 15 percent withdrew because of them. So aside from symptom reduction, there is apparently a protective effect from the curcumin that seems to moderate the less appealing aspects of the drug.1
Sports medicine has taken note of curcumin for acute pain. In a double-blind crossover trial, participants started taking curcumin two days before a physical workout that included gluteal stretches, squat jumps and single-leg jumps. They continued taking curcumin for three days after the exercise regimen, and noted moderate to large reductions in pain, slightly increased performance, and less delayed onset muscle soreness.2
Types of curcumin
Your patients may be confused about whether they should take turmeric powder or curcumin. For therapeutic results, curcumin is the right choice. Turmeric powder is wonderful as a spice, but it may contain only about 2 percent curcumin. And, even among curcumin extracts, you have to select carefully because the compound can be difficult to absorb.
Curcumin enhanced with turmeric essential oil (BCM-95) improves absorption, blood retention and provides turmerones for additional anti-inflammatory compounds.3 It has been the subject of 32 published scientific and clinical studies—and counting.
Natural pain relief: A venerable adjunct
In addition to curcumin, boswellia (Boswellia serrata) is another longtrusted, pain-stopping natural medicine used by Ayurvedic practitioners for centuries.
Combined with enhanced-absorption curcumin, boswellia outperformed celecoxib in relieving pain, walking distance and joint line tenderness scores in participants with osteoarthritis. In the herbal group, about 65 percent improved dramatically versus 30 percent in the drug group. Those in the curcumin-and-boswellia group fared so well that they moved from their previously described “moderate to severe arthritis” to “mild to moderate arthritis.”4 Another study of osteoarthritis found that a combination of the same curcumin and boswellia extracts improved pain scores and joint comfort in just 12 weeks.5
But like curcumin, boswellia comes with qualifications. In boswellia extracts, acetyl-11-keto-beta-boswellic acid (AKBA) is a primary compound associated with stopping 5-lipoxygenase (5-LOX) inflammation. This alone makes it an especially valuable natural medicine for many inflammatory diseases, including respiratory and digestive conditions —aside from stopping acute and chronic pain. But unstandardized boswellia may contain very little AKBA, and include a pro-inflammatory compound called beta-boswellic acid.
The form for fighting inflammation is a specialized boswellia extract that greatly reduces the inflammatory compound and naturally boosts AKBA levels.6,7 That is the boswellia used in conjunction with curcumin in the studies cited here.
A synergistic ingredient for relief is DLPA, a combination of d- and l-phenylalanine. D-phenylalanine appears to block enkephalinase, which other wise breaks down the brain’s natural analgesic enkaphalins; l-phenylalanine improves mood-elevating neurotransmitters, including dopamine, epinephrine and norepinephrine.8-10
An enzyme ingredient, nattokinase, increases microcirculation and can help the botanical and amino acid components move through the bloodstream to reach sites of pain even more effectively.11
One last note: hemp oil and cannabidiol (CBD) are very much part of the pain-treatment landscape right now. It’s highly likely that at some of your patients have asked for your insights and recommendations about it.
Compounds from hemp (Cannabis sativa) can preserve endocannabinoids, including anandamide (AEA) and 2-arachidonylglycerol (2-AG) and, as a result, amplify their ability to relieve pain. The phytonutrients may also interact with cannabinoid receptors found on the surfaces of cells.12,13
British researchers found that the synovial tissue of patients with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis had elevated levels of endocannabinoids compared to individuals without those conditions. The body seemed to flood the joints with endocannabinoids in an effort to relieve inflammation.14
While CBD has garnered the most attention, there is an entourage of phytonutrients from hemp, so a full-spectrum supplement might provide better and longer lasting results than one isolated compound. Overall, there’s a good case to be made that combining a full-spectrum hemp oil with curcumin would reduce inflammatory markers even more effectively.
To say that pain is very likely the major reason for patient visits is obvious. But what might not be obvious to your patients is that there are effective and safe ingredients that can alleviate their conditions with none of the risks of prescription or over-the-counter drugs. The nutrients I’ve outlined here dovetail perfectly with your practice and with your patients’ needs.
Terry Lemerond is a natural health expert with over 45 years of experience. He has owned health food stores, founded dietary supplement companies, and formulated more than 400 products. A published author, Terry appears on radio, television, and is a frequent guest speaker. He can be contacted through euromedicausa.com.
1 Chandran B, Goel A. A Randomized, Pilot Study to Assess the Efficacy and Safety of Curcumin in Patients with Active Rheumatoid Arthritis. Phytother Res. 2012;26(11):1719-25.
2 Nicol LM, Rowlands DS, Fazakerly R, Kellett J. Curcumin supplementation likely attenuates delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Eur J Appl Physiol. 2015;115(8):1769-77.
3 Antony B, Merina B, Iyer VS, et al. A pilot cross-over study to evaluate human oral bioavailability of BCM-95 CG (Biocurcumax) a novel bioenhanced preparation of curcumin. Ind J Pharm Sci. 2008;70(4):445-9.
4 Antony B, Kizhakkedath R, Benny M, Kuruvilla BT. Clinical Evaluation of a herbal product (Rhulief) in the management of knee osteoarthritis. Abstract 316. Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2011;19(S1):S145-S146.
5 Haroyan A, et al. Efficacy and safety of curcumin and its combination with boswellic acid in osteoarthritis: a comparative, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2018;18(1):7.
6 Siddiqui MZ. Boswellia serrata, a potential antiinflammatory agent: an overview. Indian J Pharm Sci. 2011 May;73(3):255-61.
7 Ammon HP. Boswellic acids in chronic inflammatory diseases. Planta Med. 2006;72(12):1100-16.
8 Russell AL, McCarty MF. DL-phenylalanine markedly potentiates opiate analgesia – an example of nutrient/pharmaceutical up-regulation of the endogenous analgesia system. Med Hypotheses. 2000;55(4):283-8.
9 Ehrenpreis S. Analgesic properties of enkephalinase inhibitors: animal and human studies. Prog Clin Biol Res. 1985;192:363-70.