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Dr. Tori Hudson, Portland, Oregon, Blog Healthline Blog

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis and women have much higher rates than men. Women face a quadruple threat for osteoarthritis: hormones, biology, a genetic predisposition and more recently, obesity.

About 60% of the 27 million individuals in the U.S. that have arthritis are women. Prior to age 55, more men tend to have arthritis but after age 55, women catch up and then surpass the number of men.

Biologically, women’s tendons are more elastic causing the joints to have more motion and the pelvis is wider, putting more stress on the knees. Hormonally, estrogen protects cartilage (the cushion between the joints) from inflammation and then after menopause the estrogen declines naturally, leaving the cartilage more vulnerable to inflammation and thus degeneration. Genetics also play a role in osteoarthritis with the disease running in families and a particular genetic link in women and even at the same locations as their mother. In more recent years, obesity statistics show that more women than men are obese or severely obese. Extra body weight puts more stress on the joints with increasing pressure on the cartilage and faster wear. More abdominal fat puts more pressure on the lower joints.

844121298All this is to say that we need many tools to prevent and treat osteoarthritis. One tool is the use of botanicals and one of the most studied botanicals for osteoarthritis is Turmeric. In the study published in early 2018, a curcumin product was compared to curcumin plus boswellia and compared to placebo. A curcumin 500 mg capsule, containing 333 mg curcuminoids was given three times daily for 12 weeks to one group. Another group was given a 500 mg capsule three times daily containing 330 mg curcuminoids and 150 mg boswellic acid, also for 12 weeks. A third group received placebo. Research participants had osteoarthritis of the knees.

Both preparations, whether curcumin alone or the curcumin-boswellia combination was favorable compared to placebo after only 3 months of continuous use, in men and women with osteoarthritis of the knees. The combination product was significant compared to placebo in both physical performance tests and pain and function scores including morning stiffness, limited function and disease severity while the curcumin only product was superior to placebo in physical performance tests only.

Commentary: Curcumin results from many clinical studies, animal studies and in vitro studies demonstrate beneficial effects in treating chronic inflammation. The ability to effect inflammation is through various enzymes, transcription factors, growth factors, cytokines and other genes. Curcumin appears to be the most studied botanical for its anti-inflammatory and disease modulating effects on osteoarthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis has also been improved by curcumin in at least one clinical trial. The results of the current study showed that after 12 weeks of use of a curcuminoid product or in combination with boswellic acid, improvement in pain related symptoms and function can be improved although the combination of the two plants is more effective.


Haroyan A, Mukuchyan V, Mkrtchyan N, et al. Efficacy and safety of curcumin and its combination with boswellic acid in osteoarthritis: a comparative, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2018; 18:7

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