Nancy Dell: Tumeric and arthritis; Nightly melatonin use

Not all brands of tumeric and curcumin are created equal

Image (1) MercyMedicalCenterLogo_20120323115516_0_0.GIF for post 10061. I have arthritis.  Will tumeric help?
Bonnie, Hadley

Tumeric is a spice most commonly used in curry dishes and mustard.  Most of the studies have been done on the compound called curcumin which give tumeric its yellow color.

Two small studies show curcumin can reduce the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis including joint swelling and stiffness by 40 percent after 8 weeks. In addition, it improved walking time.

However, medications like ibruprophen reduce the symptoms more in some cases. Researchers have also studied curcumin and osteoarthritis of the knee. Participants who took curcumin daily for 6 weeks were able to reduce their anti-inflammatory drugs by 84 percent compared to a 19 percent reduction in the group taking a placebo.

Not all brands of tumeric and curcumin are created equal. So be sure to talk to your doctor or dietitian before taking a supplement and learn the proper dose for you.

Studies also show tumeric may have benefits for ulcerative colitis, indigestion, pre-diabetes and high blood pressure. One the other hand, some supplements may be contaminated with lead, arsenic, cadmium, or salmonella.

2. I take melatonin to help me sleep.  Can I take it every night?
Chris, Internet

Melatonin is a hormone that is produced in the brain when it gets dark outside so we can fall asleep. Melatonin supplements have been shown to help you fall asleep when taken 45 minutes before bedtime.

However, because it is a hormone, take it only as needed and not every night. Take the lowest dose that will work for you, starting with just 1 milligram or less. Melatonin is considered safe for most adults but it can effect estrogen and stop ovulation in some women as well as cause spotting in post menopausal women. It can affect testosterone in men, and impair sperm function. So, although it is a so-called “natural” compound, discuss it with your doctor before using it.

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