ISLAMABAD: While turmeric is generally safe and rarely causes side-effects, it has been proven to interact with warfarin - a blood-thinning drug prescribed to patients at high risk of blood clots
This is a fascinating question, relevant to the many people who are on anticoagulant medication — given to those at high risk of blood clots — who, like you, also suffer from arthritic pain.
If you’re on anticoagulants, you can’t take anti-inflammatories — which include diclofenac, ibuprofen, naproxen, and even aspirin, because the latter carry a risk of bleeding from the stomach and duodenum, the first part of the small intestine.
As an anticoagulant stops the blood from clotting properly, when these two types of drugs are taken together there could be serious consequences — namely, uncontrollable bleeding.
This applies to older anticoagulants, such as warfarin and heparin and newer blood-thinning drugs: apixaban, dabigatran and rivaroxaban.
Known as novel oral anti-coagulants (NOACs), these are simpler to take because unlike warfarin, patients do not need regular blood tests to check they’re getting the correct dose, which can vary according to what you’ve been eating.
While there have been suggestions that regular testing might effectively improve the safety of the novel anticogulants, the real issue with them was that they could not easily be reversed — which could be dangerous in an emergency.
But antidotes are now becoming available.
For example, dabigatran (also known by the brand name Pradaxa) can be reversed by idarucizumab (Praxbind), which takes these modern anticoagulants into a new era.
There has been some research into turmeric as a treatment for arthritic pain. The active component of this spice is curcumin, which in animal studies has been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects
However, as with warfarin, the new anticoagulants still carry an increased risk of bleeding, and therefore cannot be taken alongside certain drugs.
As you know, there has been some research into turmeric as a treatment for arthritic pain.
The active component of this spice is curcumin, which in animal studies has been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects.
I have seen a simple study where it was compared with ibuprofen in two groups of patients who took one or the other for six weeks, and in both groups their pain levels improved.
However, there aren’t enough well-designed studies to reach any firm conclusions about the benefit in humans.
And while turmeric is generally safe and rarely causes side-effects, unfortunately it has been proven to interact with warfarin and the novel anticoagulants.
This is because curcumin reduces the ability of platelets (cells which help blood to clot) to clump together — so the risk of dangerous bleeding is greatly increased in patients taking blood-thinning medication.
For that reason you must not self-medicate with turmeric.
As for other ways to treat arthritic pain, there is ‘no one-size-fits-all’ option.
If a patient is particularly affected by painful osteoarthritis of the knee, there is some evidence that acupuncture may help, as may the supplement glucosamine, though the best that can be expected from either is modest pain reduction.
Another option for knee osteoarthritis pain is AposTherapy, a biomechanical device worn on the feet which corrects the way you walk, taking pressure off the knee.
This has been shown to be effective for some patients.
In terms of other aches and pains — such as osteoarthritis of the hands or hips — there is very little to offer.
Even paracetamol, long relied upon by many taking anticoagulants, has recently been subject to questions over effectiveness. But there is nothing to stop you trying it.
However, talk to your doctor about the dosage.
As well as never exceeding the recommended dose, you must avoid taking it with other remedies that include it, such as cold and flu remedies, to avoid any risk of overdose.