Doctor's Note

What about rheumatoid arthritis? That was my last video, Turmeric Curcumin & Rheumatoid Arthritis. Next, I’ll cover Boosting the Bioavailability of Curcumin and then end with some caveats (Who Shouldn’t Consume Curcumin or Turmeric).

Also check out Rose Hips for Osteoarthritis.

Those unfamiliar with The China Study should read it! I also mention it in my video China Study on Sudden Cardiac Death.

If, as described, oxidative stress and inflammation both play a role in joint inflammation, then that may help explain the role of turmeric. See my recent videos Which Spices Fight Inflammation? and Spicing Up DNA Protection.

I’d also add nuts (Fighting Inflammation in a Nut Shell) and mushrooms (Boosting Immunity While Reducing Inflammation) to the list of anti-inflammatory plant foods.

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  • Dave

    Time for some more curry dishes :-)

    • Tobias Brown

      Full speed ahead with the Dal recipes.

      • Anyone want to post a dal recipe?

        • Tobias Brown

          I use the following recipe for fat-free dal tadka — but I don’t think the tadka part is accurate because this refers to “tempering” the spices, which means cooking the spices (mustard and cumin seeds) and onions to release their flavor IN OIL. (BTW, a member here suggested that mustard oil isn’t unhealthy to use though I hesitate.)


          • LKSkinner

            The book “Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease” has an excellent Indian dahl recipe (page 259) that I use all the time. The recipe calls for 1teaspoon of turmeric but more can be added without messing up the recipe.

          • Kathi Richards

            Can you post the recipe? I don’t have that book. Thank you

          • Darryl

            Buy the book, its one of the 2 plant-based diet books everyone needs for their lending library.

            The recipes are here.

          • DH

            What is the other one of the 2 plant-based books?

          • Darryl

            T. C. Campbell’s The China Study. Ie the same books that helped turned both Clinton and Gore into vegans.

            Both are a bit on the basic side for those with science backgrounds. The closest I’ve found to a definitive, current, heavily referenced guide to the “why’s” of plant-based nutrition is Mark McCarty’s regularly updated Low-Fat, Low-Salt, Whole-Food Vegan: Staying Lean and Healthy into Ripe Old Age, which has about 1200 pointers for further study.

          • DH

            Thank you, Mr. Darryl, for bringing my attention to this document, which I am eager to read and pore over.

          • Kathi Richards

            Thank you for the link. Right now we are downsizing, in a big way. No more new books until many others are gone. I do have The China Study.

          • DanielFaster

            There are ahem actually THREE must have PB books for your lending library, Lisle and Goldhamer’s The Pleasure Trap.

          • Kathi Richards

            Thank you for that link. I will have to try it out. I think that it would be fine without the oil.

        • Here’s a recipe I’m tweaking for my upcoming book. Anybody want to try it and make suggestions?

          Harriet, health journalist, Montreal


          · 1 cup dried yellow
          or orange lentils

          · 4 cups water

          · 1 T olive oil

          · ¼ tsp mustard seeds

          · 2-3 small yellow
          onions, diced

          · 1/4 tsp each:
          turmeric, cumin, coriander powder

          · 2 cloves garlic,
          chopped plus extra for garnish

          · ½ tsp chopped

          · 1-2 lemons – juice

          · ¼ tsp cayenne

          · salt and pepper

          · handful cilantro,

          Spice Prep (Hi, folks. I do this so you can easily figure out which spices to grab and how to measure them.)

          · 1/4 tsp each:
          mustard seeds, turmeric, cumin, coriander powder, cayenne

          · 1/2 tsp chopped


          1. Spread the beans on
          a baking sheet, pick out the misfits, then wash the keepers several times in
          warm water and drain them.

          2. To sprout (optional but
          healthful and tasty): Put the washed beans in a large, shallow bowl and
          add 3 cups warm water (3 times the amount of beans), cover with a cloth towel, then
          place away from sunlight and soak overnight. Rinse and drain, then place
          soaked beans in a large sprouting jar with a mesh lid. Turn jar upside
          down in a bowl and tilt it slightly on an angle so the moisture will drain.
          Continue rinsing and draining at least twice a day for 2-3 days. When the
          beans’ tails are about ¼” long, they’re ready. (They’ll keep in the fridge for
          a couple of days until you’re ready to use them.)

          3. Put beans and 4
          cups water in a pot and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, covered,
          approximately 20 minutes, adding a little salt at the end of the cooking

          4. In a separate pan,
          heat oil on low to medium heat and then add the mustard seeds. As the seeds
          pop, add the onions and saute for a minute or so. Add turmeric, cumin and
          coriander powder and mix, then add garlic and ginger and continue sauteeing.
          Your onions should cook for 4-5 minutes max.

          5. Combine cooked
          onion mixture with warm, cooked lentils and stir well. Add cayenne, lemon juice
          and salt to taste, and then let the soup sit.

          6. Garnish with
          cilantro, black pepper and freshly minced garlic. Goes well with side of leafy
          greens. Or just throw the greens right into the soup.

        • Kevin J. Dickerson

          Hi everyone. Try my mung dal recipe! It’s low-fat, WFPB. (You can use any dal or lentil.) It incorporates chard as well.

          • Thea

            Thanks Kevin!

          • mytwocents

            “WFPB”? Are we supposed to know what that means??

          • Kevin J. Dickerson

            WFPB = Whole foods plant-based!

        • Committed Health Nut

          Don’t forget Dr. Fuhrman’s books, check out TED: Julieanna Hever, and Kathy Freston, and their books. Julieanna just came out with another wonderful book for you and your loved ones!!!!/Vegiterranean….; Dean Ornish has done some great/GREAT research/get his Spectrum book!!!!

  • sally

    would you recommend the curcumin supplements?

  • Liz

    What is the most effective form of curcumin and at what dosage?

    • Ron

      The bioavailability of curcumin is very low according to a clinical study done in Molecular Pharmaceutics 2007,4 (6),807-818.
      BCM-95 is a highly absorbable form of curcumin which is 10 times more absorbable than the standard 95% curcumin.

  • chisong

    My friend read yesterday’s post…and commented that she’d taken turmeric capsules until she realized her white hair was turning yellow…anyone else had this result?

    • fred

      No…but I did once take ~ 25,000 IU / day beta-carotene during summer and I had a very deep tan…didn’t affect hair color.

    • luveggies

      It could only be from the turmeric if the color change was only at the roots of her hair – like the way the real color of hair shows up in the roots as dyed hair is growing out.

    • Gardener

      Ive been taking turmeric in caps for at least 5 years now and I have very white hair. It has no effect on the color of hair. Unless perhaps she was rubbing it into her hair.

  • yardplanter

    In general, how are larger molecules -specifically proteins ( e.g. hormones from milk ) – absorbed ? They are/should too large for diffusion in the absence of leaky gut. Endocytosis ? Should not they be broken down to amino acids or short peptides thus loosing their biologic if not antigenic activity ?

  • Thank you Dr Gregory! My wife and I have been taking a brand by Life Extension containing 500mg Nigella sativa, an organic black cumin seed oil, combined with 200 mg Curcuma longa, an extract root with “Curcuminoids Complex with Essential Oils of Turmeric Rhizome…” for a few weeks, and I can’t tell if it’s really making much of a difference. I have some moderate osteoarthritis in all my finger joints, as does my wife, and she has moderate to severe osteoarthritis in one knee. Time will tell, but maybe it makes more sense to begin enjoying curry dishes more often. :-)
    Thanks again for the work you do here at NutritionFacts.

    • Psych MD

      I’m interested in this as well. In PubMed a search for “curcumin” yields 6277 studies and “Nigella” 624. I also tried to find info re: black cumin seed oil vs. the whole (ground) seed. Maybe Gr. Greger has some insight.

      • Tammer

        You need 2.5 teaspoons of the the seed to 1 teaspoon of the oil. But then I beg to differ with the type of oil anyone is using. Also Life Extension uses gelatin capsules, not a good thing. Veggie caps are better. Why put bad in your system when you want good. An easy alternative to all of this is to make your own. Take the turmeric and add in 25% black pepper, preferably from Ceylon and mix in 2/3 cups of seeds to 1/3 cup of turmeric. The black pepper intensifies the turmeric 1000 percent and then put them in capsules or honey and take. In fact cancertutor showed a study where turmeric honey treated cancer. Something to ponder.

  • Geoffrey Levens

    Isn’t curcumin very hard to absorb much of? I know there have been ongoing tweaks to extracts/supplements to overcome this (adding peperine, phosphystidyl serine, super critical CO2 extraction) so as to get a truly therapeutic dose. I would also like to know if you, Dr Greger have any suggestions along those lines. Just turmeric in diet shows as demographically good for prevention, but what about individuals who have a current problem and wish to alleviate/reverse it?

    • luveggies

      Dr Greger discusses research about how black pepper DRAMATICALLY increases bioavailability of curcumin. See his answer to the question: What about pepper plus turmeric in V8 juice. .

  • Loyal Fan

    Please fix the broken link to Who Shouldn’t Consume Curcumin or Turmeric. A word search does not result in a definitive video for this topic.

    • luveggies

      I believe that’s because it hasn’t been “published” online yet, it’s only available on his newest DVD, Volume 16. BUT, I think it will be the video Dr Greger will be posting tomorrow – Monday 1-20-14.

  • narrative

    Many of these articles relate to a derivative of the core product i.e. “Curcumin”, from “Turmeric”, which turn out to be pricey products from pharma or health stores. What amount of turmeric do we actually need to eat for it be effective in our diet?

  • Barton van Buskirk


  • deborahconner

    Ibuprophin also implicated in kidney cancer.

  • deborahconner

    I make this w soy or almond milk. I try to stay with real foods rather than pills or extracts.

  • HereHere

    This is a very useful article, since about many of us will have to deal with OA at some point in our lives. I have some work-induced OA in my finger joints. I wish I could turn back the clock, and I am hoping nutrition will come up with an answer to repair damaged cartilage. The vegan diet immediately (2-3 weeks) halted all symptoms for 6 months. Now, I only have morning stiffness for a few seconds, but I’m only in my early 40’s so having a progressive chronic condition is unsettling. This article shows I really must work harder on my major weakness (sugar).

  • Stitches

    Is there a definitive answer to what dosage of curcumin supplements are effective for osteoarthritis? I have been following a vegan diet for the better part of a year, but I seriously doubt I will be incorporating tumeric into my cooking in a daily or even regular basis. Have been taking 375mg supplements for about a month without strong evidence of improvement, so I am curious about whether to increase the dosage or if it is even recommended.

    • Psych MD

      In the 8 month study cited above Meriva 500 mg twice a day was used. That formulation showed a 20-fold increase in bioavailabilty vs. plain curcumin. These studies are available on Pubmed.

  • lively1

    Dr. Greger, are there any studies on the benefits of kefir? Does kefir affect the absorption on phytonutrients similar to milk products?

    • Thea

      lively1: Kefir is just another form for dairy. While it may have some probiotics, the food is a package deal. You have to take the bad with the good. And oh boy, is there plenty of bad. for more information about dairy:

      If you really like kefir, I would recommend checking out non-dairy kefir. You might look into a coconut based commercial one or maybe even check out making your own water based kefir. Some people really love that stuff.

      Good luck.

  • Shelley
  • KartofflMuter

    May I just add that “curry” is a meaningless term. Indian grocery stores carry Garam Masala which means hot spices. Each mix will be different depending on who put the mix together and what part of India the cook was from. A Bengali would mix a 5-spice masala called panch phoron.This in no way would resemble a Gujrati masala. When someone adds the notation, “1 teaspoon garam masala.” it is absolutely useless. Does the Masala add fenugreek ,whole cumin,and kala jeera? Or does it add caraway, coriander,ginger, garlic,anise seed? You actually can find Curry leaves in Indian grocery stores. They smell heavenly. They are labeled Karbev leaves and I add them to only one dish-Upma,the world’s best breakfast.

  • KartofflMuter

    Mustard oil is used by Bengalis a great deal. They love eating fish and mustard oil is part of the preparation of them. I fry the fish in half mustard oil,half olive oil. But that’s not enough for the average Bengali. The “jhol” or sauce is made of thin slice chilies,salt,a heaping teaspoon or more of turmeric tempered in the oil during the frying,and 2-3 tsps of dry mustard mixed with water added to the pan till the fish is swimming once again.

  • lovestobevegan

    No More -itis Rice

    -1 cup brown short grain rice
    -1 red onion, chopped
    -3 stalks celery, diced
    -3 shallots, chopped
    -3 cloves garlic, minced
    -9 white button mushrooms, quartered
    -1 tbsp salt-free curry powder
    -1 tbsp marjoram
    -½ tbsp oregano
    -2 cups water/homemade vegetable broth
    -6 collard fronds, cut in ribbons then in half
    -6 swiss chard fronds, cut in ribbons then in half
    -1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

    Crush and mince garlic, then set aside. Add all ingredients, except garlic, greens, and vinegar, to a pot. Bring water to boil, then lower heat and simmer, covered, until water absorbed and rice tender. Turn off heat and stir in garlic, greens, and vinegar. Stir to combine and serve.

    ~complements of plant-based emporium

  • Suffering Violinist

    Hi Dr. McGregor,

    I’m a 23-year-old woman and recently saw my doctor because I’ve been noticing joint pain and morning stiffness in the middle knuckles of my fingers (mostly right ring finger and left index finger). She did a blood test for Rheumatoid, which was negative, so she diagnosed me with osteoarthritis and said to take Aleve as needed. She said it was uncommon at my age but that it can affect anyone, just like “some people go gray early.”

    The problem is, I’m a classical violinist in my last year of a Masters in Music Performance, and the agility of my fingers is crucial to my profession. I will do anything and everything to stop or at least slow the progression of this disease, I just don’t know what to do. My doctor doesn’t seem to believe there is a nutritional component.

    I’ve always been vegetarian, and lately have been leaning more towards veganism, but would regularly cheat when I went out to eat (which is a lot).

    I’m thinking I should try a strict elimination diet for 4 weeks, to see if what I eat is causing inflammation. I have heard meat (don’t eat this anyway), dairy, eggs, gluten, corn, refined sugar, caffeine, alcohol, and even white potatoes (?) should be eliminated as possible triggers.

    I also just bought a joint supplement by Irwin Naturals called 3-1 Joint Formula, which has vitamin E, Niacin, Folic Acid, B12, Manganese, Fish and Flax oils, Glucosamine Sulfate (1500 mcg), Chondrotin Sulfate (1200 mcg), MSM, Indian Frankincense, Stinging Nettle, Turmeric extract (95% curcuminoids, rhizome) 40 mg, Alpha-Lipoic Acid, and “BioPerine” (95% piperine, 5% gingerols)

    Would you recommend this approach? If not, what do you think I should do?

    I would be *very* grateful for your opinion.

    Thank you,
    Suffering Violinist

    • Thea

      Suffering Violinist: I’m sorry to hear about your problem! That would be a bummer for anyone, but for a young woman who needs healthy hands for her living, the story is particularly painful to hear about.

      I’m not an expert, but I wanted to express some support. I think your plan makes a whole lot of sense. I’ve heard that even small amounts of dairy and be a problem for people. So, going on a strict elimination diet where the base diet is made up of nothing but whole whole plant foods makes a lot of sense to me. You might also look up other videos on this website with the topic of arthritis and inflammation to see if you can pick up other tips.

      I sure do hope this works out for you.

    • sf_jeff

      I would also ask your doctor about an inflammation assay test. I heard through a third party and don’t know the details, but they took a bunch of common foods and made a grid, kind of like allergy tests. I assume that they put a drop of blood on each, but I don’t actually remember. When the results were in, the woman in question had a list of foods not to eat. In something like 6 months she went from being afraid she would need to stay in a wheel chair to feeling “Almost normal”, or at least able to take part in life. Sorry I don’t have the specifics.

    • Fangorn

      Nothing wrong with potatoes or gluten.. i’d say go for a low-fat (no oil) vegan diet, using recipes containing curcumin, as well as potassium-rich foods (tomato paste/puree, legumes, leafy greens).. Tomato-based ethiopian/indian dals, potato curries, etc. :)

      One fairly easy potato curry recipe that I sometimes make, either with vegan fat-free pancakes, or with rice, is this one:

      2 tablespoons raw sesame oil, vegetable oil, or ghee
      2 teaspoons minced garlic or garlic mashed to a paste
      1 pound potatoes, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes
      1 cup finely chopped shallots
      1 cup chopped tomatoes
      2 green cayenne chiles, seeded and chopped
      ½ teaspoon turmeric
      ½ teaspoon black mustard seeds
      1 teaspoon ground cumin
      1 teaspoon ground coriander
      ¼ cup water
      1 teaspoon salt, or to taste

      Heat water in a wok or karhai or wide pot over medium heat. Add 1 teaspoon garlic and cook for a minute, then add the potatoes and shallots. Stir-fry for several minutes, until the shallots have softened, pressing the potato cubes against the surface of the hot pan, then add the chopped tomatoes and chiles and stir to blend. Add small amounts of water (pour from a glass, in 2-3 tbsp increments) to the pan if the food sticks to the surface.
      Add the turmeric, mustard seeds, cumin, coriander, and the remaining 1 teaspoon garlic and stir. Add the water and salt and bring to a boil. Cover tightly and simmer vigorously until the potatoes are just tender, about 20 minutes. Check after 10 or 12 minutes to make sure there is enough liquid and that nothing is sticking; add a little more water if necessary.

    • Tom Goff

      I’m a little late to this discussion but has your doctor considered a diagnosis of Garrod;s Pads? I’m no violinist but I developed this in my late 20s along with Dupytren’s Disease. From your description, tis may possibly be your problem – it’s not also called “violinist’s pads” for nothing!

    • Carl

      Though good diet and what you’re doing is great. At a very young 23, I also doubt diet is a cause for you….

      “agility of my fingers is crucial to my profession. I will do anything
      and everything to stop or at least slow the progression of this disease,
      I just don’t know what to do.”

      There’s a story of a woman in the movie ‘The Living Matrix.’ What you express–I have a feeling your story may be similar to hers. You will recognize her when you watch it. In her case she beliefs about internal wants that were not unified.

    • smartcatcollar

      I heard vegetarians can suffer from this, being one at least after my 10th, I noticed light joint pains since my 15-20’s, here and there, come and go… Most notably, it can worsen after being in cold air or water. Tried Glucosamine/Chondrotin but didn’t notice much difference. Maybe drink enough water, add some Omega 3 foods or oil…
      Most helpful was to keep my hands (and body) warm, prevent sweat to cold situations if you can’t change clothes, etc.

  • Rutuja Singh

    If we add Vitamin c and omega 3 fatty acids in daily diet or through nutrition suppliments then Rheumatoid Arthritis will get reduced within 3 months.

  • clairefranceperez

    I have had good success with my knee when taking (and still take it daily!) Tumeric; I mix with coconut oil and swallow as best as I can, since I am not in a place with a kitchen, I can mix this blend, put it into little ice trays and pop out what I need when it’s cold from the fridge. I also add a bit of pepper since it has 6% piperine, and that makes a concoction that goes almost immediately into the bloodstream after hitting the liver. I’m feeling so much better after about 45 days of daily dosages (around 400mg) that I’m writing Get My Happy On! about my experiences. Find me on FB!!

    • Thea

      clairefranceperez: I justhappened to know someone who was recently diagnosed with osteoarthritis in the knee. Your post could not have come at a better time. I’m going to forward on your success story. Thanks for sharing!

      • clairefranceperez

        Understand that I was NOT able at all to walk for about six weeks last Christmas. I had to do bed rest and lay uselessly around, using a task chair to wheel my painfully contracted leg around; was it meniscus? Arthritis? Later, a chiropractor laid me on the stomach and then used my lower leg to actually grind the knee cap and man that was painful. However, I never had pain again! Just muscle atrophy which is being addressed with private yoga classes. I walk with very little limping now.

    • Tammer

      I thought it was a good recipe, but changed it and added coconut milk instead of the oil and used turmeric mixed with black seeds. My ratio is 2 to 3. Meaning 2 being the turmeric to 3 parts being the black seeds. Make sure the turmeric is mixed with 25% black pepper. I did add a few splashes of water to make it easier to pour.

  • What about Polymyalgia rheumatica. I have an aunt that I switched to a WFPB diet about 10 months ago. She had a menengioma tumor the size of a baseball removed summer 2013 and had a lot of infections after and has only recently begun to walk again. She has lost 70 pounds since January and has been on a strict WFPB diet that I make for her. Lately her SED rate has been elevated which means she has inflammation in her body somewhere. In the past she was diagnosed with the rheumatica and was on a low dose of Prednisone for years. I was able to get her off of blood pressure medicine, cholesterol medicine, acid reflux medicine, she no longer has gout and, as I said, dropped a good deal of weight. I don’t like what I read about the side affects of Prednisone so wondered if Turmeric would be something that might work here? is where I blog about our experiences

  • David

    GOD himself knows how much I love each and every post/video/blog post….; The subject matter can be confusing enough/what with all the misinformation fomented by “the experts”. With such as posting at this, it would be helpful to give some guidance as to approximately how much and how often a beneficial amount would be to be a part of ones daily intake. And, it is such a benefit to had black pepper/as you have notated/that that too should somehow be a part of such messages. Thank YOU!!!!!

  • marjeszelmeczka

    Will curcumin work for spinal osteoarthritis?

  • Rodrigo Cardoso

    Looking for the best translation possible, and for the terms in use in Portuguese, I took a while trying to undertand if osteoarthritis and osteoarthrosis were the same. I ended up using “osteoartrite” for osteoarthritis, even though “osteoartrose” seems to be more in use and Wikipedia say they are the same:
    Is the “…ite” termination related to inflamation? If so, it’s important to make the distinction, right?
    Subtitled and published in Portuguese. Enjoy and share if you have Portuguese speaking friends or family:



  • Rose Noire

    I noticed in the video, one of the studies said it used curcumin extract 2g a day for 6 weeks,but, as mentioned, curcumin supplements aren’t supposed to be very effective. I saw that there is a curcumin root extract (liquid and capsules) and the curcumin 95 among others, so which is best to take?

  • Robert Haile

    NSAIDS, like ibuprofen and naprosyn, not only cause serious GI side effects and death, but may worsen hypertension, increase fluid retention, especially those who already have oedema or congestive heart failure, as well as double the risk of heart attack. Besides tasting good, turmeric has few side effects.

  • Barbara

    How much curcumin do you recommend for someone with osteoarthritis of the hands? I take 1/4tsp. (Almost 1g) “Mega Food Daily Turmeric” powder that has black cherry and black pepper also, to help with absorption. Is that adequate? BTW, I take also take 2 heaping tablespoons of ground organic flaxseed mixed in soy milk each day. I don’t have any pain when I follow this regimen. I am basically on a vegan diet. Lots of fruit, veggies, nuts, whole grains, and legumes.

  • nfuser04

    I am now 9 weeks into a completely plant based diet. I’ve lost 18 pounds and my digestive system thanks me daily. There is only one issue. My joints seem to hurt more than they ever have from osteoarthritis. I’m only 54 and am very active. Should I cut out the whole grains? Suggestions?

  • Eve

    My joints are feeling much better since I started drinking tumeric and ginger tea however, I am wondering about the safety of drinking a cup every day, after reading about the problems associated with kidney stones, and GERD. I also had my gallbladder removed several years ago. Will it be alright to drink tumeric tea without a gallbladder?

  • Albert Haines

    Curcomin, how much would be enough?