The Indian spice turmeric contains an active ingredient called curcumin that reduces inflammation in a variety of ways, including the down-regulation of COX-2 enzymes; suppressing COX-2 enzymes is also the way NSAIDs like aspirin and ibuprofen work. When inflammation quiets down, joints feel less painful and stiffness fades away. Dr. Teitelbaum likes combining curcumin with the herb boswellia. “This combination was shown in a head-on study to be more effective than the commonly prescribed drug Celebrex,” he says. Although it is fine to try these herbs while also taking a prescription arthritis or pain medication, if you go that route, Dr. Teitelbaum suggests using both the herb and medication for six weeks to reach the full effect of the herb. Then try tapering off the conventional pain medication to see if the herb alone can do the trick. Skip turmeric if you have gallstones.

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