Turmeric For Rheumatoid Arthritis: Does It Work?

Turmeric For Rheumatoid Arthritis

Some research suggests that turmeric may help alleviate the inflammatory symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. The spice affords several benefits such as anti-inflammatory functions provided by its main component curcumin.

What Is Turmeric?
It is a spice that contains anti-inflammatory properties. Otherwise known as Curcuma longa, the bright yellow or orange spice is also the main component in traditional medicine such as Ayurveda. The latter treats skin diseases, stomach problems, blood disorders, cough, mild infections and liver conditions.
According to a review article published in the US National Library of Medicine, turmeric is rich in curcumin that has an antioxidant effect, lowers blood sugar, is anti-inflammatory and affords anticancer benefits. Since rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that mistakenly attacks healthy joint tissue, patients experience inflammation that leads to bone and joint damage. The anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric could alleviate its symptoms.
In a 2016 systematic review, researchers measured the effectiveness of turmeric and curcumin extracts on arthritis patients. Those who took 1,000 milligrams of curcumin daily for eight to 12 weeks reduced their pain sensations and inflammation which are common symptoms of osteoarthritis.
Researchers found that curcumin extracts are effective in treating these symptoms by recommending patients to take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and diclofenac. They, however, noted that there is a need for further research to confirm their findings. Nevertheless, they recommended that arthritis patients may use curcumin as a dietary supplement while undergoing conventional therapy.

A subsequent study looked into the effects of curcumin on rats with rheumatoid arthritis. Researchers determined that the component reduced inflammation and redness among the lab rats by blocking an intercellular signaling process called mTOR pathway.
Read full article by  at Medical Daily


Vagus nerve stimulation may reduce the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis

Electrostimulation of the vagus nerve may be key to reducing the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, according to findings that scientists presented at the Annual European Congress of Rheumatology in Madrid, Spain.

Vagus nerve stimulation and rheumatoid arthritis

This research gives hope that there may be a new way to help treat this autoimmune condition.
The vagus nerve, which is a very long nerve that runs between the brain and the neck, chest, and abdomen, is a complex structure.
Previous research has found an inflammatory reflex in the vagus nerve that reduces the production of cytokines, including certain molecules that are a component of autoimmune conditions. These molecules are called tumor necrosis factor (TNF).
The immune systems of healthy people block TNF, but in those with certain autoimmune conditions, excess TNF makes its way into the bloodstream and causes inflammation and a higher rate of symptoms associated with the conditions.
TNF is a target in many rheumatoid arthritis (RA) drugs, such as infliximab(Remicade) or etanercept (Enbrel). Many people call these drugs TNF-blockers.
The researchers thought that if they could boost this naturally occurring reflex in the vagus nerve, it might have a similar result — or one that was even better, as drugs that aim for TNF also suppress the immune system and have other unwelcome side effects.
"This is a really exciting development," says Prof. Thomas Dörner, Chairperson of the Scientific Programme Committee at the Annual European Congress of Rheumatology, which this year takes place in Madrid, Spain.
"For many [people living with] RA, current treatments don't work, or aren't tolerated. These results open the door to a novel approach to treating not only RA but other chronic inflammatory diseases. This is certainly an area for further study," adds Prof. Dörner.
Small neurostimulator led to big findings
The researchers implanted a small neurostimulator, called a MicrioRegulator, into 14 people with RA. To qualify for the study, each person had tried at least two medications that worked in different ways but that hadn't helped reduce their symptoms.
The scientists then divided the participants into three groups: a placebo group, a group that had vagus stimulation once per day, and a group that had vagus stimulation four times per day.
The study, which took place over 12 weeks, revealed that those in the once-per-day group had a much better result, symptom-wise, than those in the other two groups — including those that had stimulation four times each day.
Both stimulation groups also had a distinct reduction of more than 30% in their cytokine levels during the course of the study.
What does the future hold?
Although surgically implanting small neurostimulators into every person with RA is probably not feasible, reasonable, or required, this study does shine a light on potential therapy that can help those who do not respond well to traditional medications for the condition.
The findings of this research will also pave the way for future studies.
"Our pilot study suggests this novel MicroRegulator device is well tolerated and reduces signs and symptoms of [RA]," says Dr. Mark Genovese, the James W. Raitt Endowed Professor of Medicine at Stanford University in California.
Read the full article by Monica Beyer at MEDICAL NEWS TODAY


Study Finds Eating Fresh Fish May Ease Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms

Could relief for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) symptoms be as close as the nearest seafood restaurant? Possibly, say researchers from Harvard.

Eating Fresh Fish May Ease Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms

Sara Tedeschi, MD, a rheumatologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and the study’s lead author, says researchers assessed 76 patients with moderate RA who were part of a larger heart disease study. A questionnaire looked at their diets over the past year and asked how frequently they ate fish.

As with fish oil supplements, the benefits of eating fresh fish are thought to stem from the anti-inflammatory effects of omega-3 fatty acids.
“We found people with RA who ate fish at least twice a week reported less joint swelling and tenderness than those who rarely or never consumed fish,” Dr. Tedeschi says.

Eating Fresh Fish May Ease Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms


Milk and beef may be a trigger for developing rheumatoid arthritis

A new study has found that a strain of bacteria that is often in milk and beef may be a trigger for developing rheumatoid arthritis.

WHERE: University of Central Florida, USA.

Study published in the Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology in January 2018

 Saleh Naser, University of Central Florida (UCF) infectious disease specialist, Dr. Shazia Bég, rheumatologist at UCF's physician practice, and Robert Sharp, a biomedical sciences doctoral candidate at the medical school.

WHAT: Researchers have found a connection between rheumatoid arthritis and Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis, (MAP), a bacteria found in about half the cows in the United States. MAP may be a trigger for those who are genetically at risk for developing rheumatoid arthritis (RA). 
“We don’t know the cause of rheumatoid arthritis, so we’re excited that we have found this association,” Bég said. “But there is still a long way to go." 
 “Understanding the role of MAP in rheumatoid arthritis means the disease could be treated more effectively,” Dr. Naser said. “Ultimately, we may be able to administer a combined treatment to target both inflammation and bacterial infection.”

  • If  MAP is found in such a large percentage of cows, and therefore their products, how do we know if we are being exposed to MAP through consuming milk or meat from infected cattle
  • Also how do we know if we are genetically at risk for developing RA?
  • Many people with one autoimmune disease go on to develop other autoimmune diseases so in my way of thinking this is another reason to avoid cow's milk (which I already do) and now also beef. 
  • Do you think eating organic grass fed beef removes the risk of MAP?
  • Should we all be eating a Vegan diet or is that just too extreme?

Read the full article at the University of Central Florida site


Study Finds Bacteria in Milk Linked to Rheumatoid Arthritis


Around one-third of patients with juvenile arthritis fail to respond to first-line treatments

help for juvenile  arthritis

When treating the symptoms of juvenile idiopathic arthritis, also called juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA), disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) and anti-tumor necrosis factor (TNF) are often used. These include methotrexate (MTX), Enbrel and Humira.

Around one-third of patients with juvenile idiopathic arthritis fail to respond to MTX or TNF therapy. Even fewer achieve the American College of Rheumatology Pediatric 70% criteria for response.

In this new research, printed in The Journal of Rheumatology in January 2018, the researchers evaluated whether measuring blood levels of the protein S100A12 could be a suitable predictor for treatment outcomes in JIA patients.
Because change in serum S100-protein myeloid-related protein complex 8/14 (MRP8/14) is associated with therapeutic response, we tested granulocyte-specific S100-protein S100A12 as a potential biomarker for treatment response.
S100A12 serum concentration was determined by ELISA in 163 patients treated with MTX or anti-TNF at baseline and follow up. Treatment response achievement of inactive disease, and improvement in Juvenile Arthritis Disease Activity Score were recorded. ELISA is enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay - a test that uses antibodies and color change to identify a substance. 

Researchers found that when compared to non-responders, patients who responded to the administrated therapies had significantly higher baseline levels of blood S100A12.

People who will respond to MTX or anti-TNF treatment can be identified by pre-treatment S100A12 serum concentration levels.

drugs for juvenile arthritis


S100A12 Is Associated with Response to Therapy in Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis

Faekah GoharJanneke AninkHalima MoncrieffeLisette W.A. Van Suijlekom-Smit
Femke H.M. PrinceMarion A.J. van RossumKoert M. DolmanEsther P.A.H. Hoppenreijs
Rebecca ten CateSimona UrsuLucy R. WedderburnGerd HorneffMichael Frosch
Dirk Foell and Dirk Holzinger


Rheumatoid arthritis linked to cardiac problems and infections

Rheumatoid arthritis research results

This large-scale population-based study shows that rheumatoid arthritis (RA) leads not only joint damage, but it increases the long-term risks of problems such as heart attacks and infections. 

Multibiomarker disease activity (MBDA) test scores were analysed in US patients with RA. There were over 34,000 patients records involved in the research. Their mean age was 69 years and 79% of them were women. Medicare fee-for-service claims data from 2010–2014, was used for this research. 

There were 452 serious infection (SIE) events, 132 myocardial infarction (MI) and 181 coronary heart disease (CHD) events. "For MI/CHD events, a threshold effect was present; higher disease activity by MBDA score was associated with increased MI (HR=1.52, 95% CI 0.92 to 2.49) and CHD rates (HR=1.54, 95% CI 1.01 to 2.34 comparing scores ≥30 vs <30)."

“Higher disease activity as measured by a panel of biomarkers was associated with higher rates of hospitalized infections, MI and CHD events. These findings add to the growing body of evidence that further strengthens the argument to strive for lower disease activity in RA,” in Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.

Higher MBDA scores were associated with hospitalised infection, myocardial infarction and coronary heart disease events in the large, predominantly older, US RA population.

  1. Curtis JR, Xie F, Chen L, et al. Biomarker-related risk for myocardial infarction and serious infections in patients with rheumatoid arthritis: a population-based studyAnn Rheum Dis. 2017 Dec 21. pii: annrheumdis-2017-211727. doi: 10.1136/annrheumdis-2017-211727. 
Rheumatoid arthritis linked to cardiac problems and infections


Is Rheumatoid Arthritis Preventable?

Is Rheumatoid Arthritis Preventable?
Results of a newly published study suggest that personalized medicine approaches may result in health behavior that may reduce RA risk.                                                                                                       
We have gotten to the point where we’ve identified some modifiable behaviors that affect rheumatoid arthritis risk,” says Jeffrey A. Sparks, MD, MMSc, assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Rheumatology, Immunology and Allergy at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. “We have made a lot of progress in observational studies to identify risk factors for RA, and the next step is trying to target prevention strategies for those at risk.”

Randomized, Controlled Trial

Dr. Sparks, Elizabeth Karlson, MD, MPH, and other colleagues performed a randomized, controlled trial among 238 first-degree relatives of patients with RA.1

Motivated to Change Following Education

“What we found is that, overall, people are motivated to change those behaviors once they were educated about them using this novel, personalized RA risk calculator,” says Dr. Sparks. “Just the act of giving this RA risk calculator to first-degree relatives made them want to change those behaviors more than those that were receiving standard care in the comparison arm.”
“In practice, we know there are behaviors related to RA risk,” says Dr. Sparks. “We have shown that telling people about their risk for RA really does change behaviors—and for the better. Although this doesn’t directly address whether these interventions change a person’s risk, we know these are healthy behaviors from many aspects.” 

Read the full article by Kurt Ullman at The Rheumatologist newsmagazine reports on issues and trends in the management and treatment of rheumatic diseases. 


  1. Sparks JA, Iversen MD, Yu Z, et al. Disclosure of personalized rheumatoid arthritis risk using genetics, biomarkers, and lifestyle factors to motivate health behavior improvements: A randomized controlled trialArthritis Care Res. 2017 (in press).

Rheumatoid arthritis and Sjogren's syndrome

RA and SS

A percentage of people with rheumatoid arthritis go on to develop Sjögren's syndrome (SS) which is another autoimmune disorder.  When someone with an established autoimmune disease develops SS it is called Secondary Sjögren's syndrome. 

The basic symptoms are dry eyes and dry mouth but the list of symptoms is long and not everyone gets all of them.

In a 2013 study researchers found that RA patients with secondary Sjögren’s syndrome had distinct features that set them apart from those with RA alone:

  • higher RA disease activity. 
  • more severe arthritis, with a greater number of swollen, tender, and deformed joints. 
  • tended to be older and have a longer duration of RA. 
  • appeared to have stronger hereditary component to their disease.
  • a clearer history of autoimmune disease in their family. 
  • presence of certain antibodies, rheumatoid factor (RF) as well as other auto-antibodies (SSA and SSB). 
  • more likely to have blood abnormalities. 
  • more likely to have fever and rash.
  • were more likely to have Interstitial lung disease, a common lung complication.

Find out more about Sjogren's Syndrome at Sjogren's Syndrome Info


Diet for rheumatoid arthritis update

This is a very thorough study that was published frontiers in Nutrition on 8 November 2017: Managing Rheumatoid Arthritis with Dietary Interventions from the Disease Biology Laboratory, School of Biotechnology, KIIT University, Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India. 
It seems that they have gathered together the growing body of research evidence showing that food and diet can improve the symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis.

"Patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis should switch from omnivorous diets, drinking alcohol, and smoking to Mediterranean, vegan, elemental, or elimination diets, as advised by their doctor or dietician."said Dr. Bhawna Gupta one of the report authors.
Many reports have stated that the population of gut microbes gets altered in a person affected with RA, and other autoimmune diseases,  and several animal studies have already proved that any alteration in gut microbiota corresponds to initiation of RA.  Self-help by means of dietary interventions can help in management of various disorders including rheumatoid arthritis (RA), a debilitating autoimmune disease. 

Mediterranean Diet for rheumatoid arthritis
Mediterranean Diet

Dietary suggestions are appealing to patients as they are affordable, accessibile, and scientific evidences show they have substantial benefits in reducing disease symptoms such as pain, joint stiffness, swelling, tenderness and associated disability with disease progression.

In the review they have included all the dietary interventions that clearly indicate clinically and statistically significant and beneficial long-term effects for relieving symptoms, delay in disease progression and associated damages in RA patients.

Here are the recomendations from the study. I have not included all the supporting studies which you can see in detail in the report but just the simple dietary suggestions. Please keep in mind you do not have to do them all but just pick one to try:

Seven Days Fasting Followed by Vegan Diet. A fasting of 7–10 days with partial nutrient intake of vegetable broth, herbal teas, parsley, garlic, and decoction of potatoes; juice extracts from carrots, beets, and celery; and a controlled daily energy intake followed by 1 year of a vegan diet as compared to omnivorous diet was studied in different trials. Together these studies observed remarkable decrease in swollen and tender joints, pain, erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), and C-reactive protein (CRP).

vegetable fasting for rheumatoid arthritis
Carrot, celery and beetroot juice
Vegan Diet. A diet including intake of only fruits and vegetables, eliminating any animal product or by-products is vegan diet.

Mediterranean Diet is rich in oleic acid, omega-3 fatty acids, unrefined carbohydrates, and phytochemicals . MD involves high consumption of olive oil, cereals, fruits, vegetables, fish, and legumes; less red meat; and inclusion of moderate amount of red wine in diet. Studies have also shown that incorporation of olive oil in diet decreases the risk of developing RA.

Elemental Diet provides food in simplest form consisting of glucose, vitamins, trace elements, and essential amino acids, is hypoallergenic, contains all nutrients for daily requirements, and is thought to be less immunogenic. 

Elimination Diet Certain food and food components may worsen the disease conditions in RA . Thus, an elimination diet plan may as well be considered wherein we eliminate those food related antigens that may possibly aggravate the disease symptoms. 

Individual Food Items in Diet and Their Relevance to RA

In an average diet comprising of breakfast, lunch, and dinner, there are several food items which are rich source of some phytochemicals and their efficacy in eradication of diseases has been known and is included under traditional medicines on which 80% of the world population relies . Food items such as dietary fibers, cooking oil, polyphenols, bioactive compounds from several herbs and beverages like tea are among the cheapest sources of medication; however, their bioavailability has always been a matter of concern.
Diet for rhuematoid arthritis

Dietary Fibers and Whole Grains

Most of the staple food consumed all over the world are comprised of dietary fibers and whole grains. A definitive explanation for dietary fibers can be put as remnants of food not digested in small intestine, which then moves to large intestine and gets fermented by the microflora and induces several health promoting effects. Insoluble fibers such as cellulose and lignin are found in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains; and soluble fibers including pectin, guar gum, and mucilage.

Spices. Ginger, Turmeric and Cinnamon bark are recommended.

Spices Recommended for Rheumatoid arthritis
Ginger root and ginger powder
Cinnamon bark recommended for RA
Cinnamon bark

Essential Fatty Acids
Omega-3 or omega-6 fatty acids have shown their potential as immunosuppressants and anti-inflammatory agentsBorage seed oil provides high amount of omega-6 fatty acid or gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) and significantly reduce tender and swollen joints.
Gamma-linolenic acid and omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic and stearidonic acid from black currant seed oil (BCSO) gives significant positive effects in pain relieving and reducing joint tenderness.
Fish oils provide high amount of omega-3 fatty acids, and their efficacy to treat RA has been checked in several controlled trials. RA patients were provided with fish oil with 3.6 g of omega-3 fatty acids per day. 


Synbiotics are composed of probiotics and prebiotics (the non-digestible food products beneficial for growth of helpful bacteria in large intestine and provides health promoting effects)
Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus are the key strains widely used as probiotics in commercial, pharmaceutical, and nutraceutical products. 
Yoghurt for rheumatoid arthritis
Yoghurt with probiotics and berries


Green tea. Epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) has proved its therapeutic potential and is a main phytochemical present in green tea that is obtained from dried leaves of Camellia sinensis and C. assamica of Theacease family.  The protective effects of green tea have been well proved in neurodegenerative disease, inflammatory disease, cardiovascular disease, and several types of cancer.


Sallaki (Boswellia serrata) is widely recommended as an anti-inflammatory herb as prescribed in Ayurveda. it lowers inflammation.
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is one of the plants being described in Ayurveda as a potent anti-inflammatory plant which reduced stiffness, disability to move knee and joints, and pain score.
These diets may  not cure the RA  but an effective incorporation of these food items in the daily food plan may help to:
  •  reduce their disease activity, 
  • delay disease progression, 
  • reduce joint damage, 
  • eventually mean a decreased dose of drugs administered for therapeutic treatment of patients.


Managing Rheumatoid Arthritis with Dietary Interventions
Shweta KhannaKumar Sagar Jaiswal and Bhawna Gupta

Disease Biology Laboratory, School of Biotechnology, KIIT University, Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India


Biotherapy and oral complications in Rheumatoid Arthritis

Biotherapy drugs can inhibit key factors that cause inflammation in Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) and other autoimmune conditions. 
These drugs include Rituximab, one of the first biotherapies to be approved for RA, Infliximab, Etanercept and Abatacept.

Studies have shown that people being treated with biotherapies can have oral complications. These side effects obviously vary greatly depending on the dosage amount, the type of product and the way they are administered. If dentists are aware of these biotherapy agents and the possible side effects then they can be very helpful in arresting and preventing further damage and educating the patient.

The treatment of rheumatoid arthritis focuses on the suppression of immune system with the help of biotherapy agents. The oral complications caused by these agents include oral thrush, metallic taste, soreness and burning sensation of tongue, difficulty swallowing, cold sores on lips, xerostomia, ulcers, gingival bleeding, oral pain, white spots or patches, itching of lips and tongue, halitosis, burning of lips, pain in the jaw, and swelling in glands. Sharoot Malik and Sumaiya Kasbati, Dentistry iQ

Dentistry iQ
American Nurse Today 
NCBI US National Library of Medicine