It seems like turmeric is in everything these days – teas, smoothies, you can even find turmeric shots at your local Nékter. Not only is this brightly colored spice flavorful and delicious, it’s been used as a medicinal herb for centuries thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties. But how does it stack up against your typical drugstore ibuprofen? Take a look.
How It Works: Ibuprofen works by blocking the production of prostaglandins, substances our body releases in response to illness and injury. Prostaglandins cause inflammation in the form of pain and swelling, and when released in the brain, can also cause fever. Ibuprofen’s anti-inflammatory effects can take a bit longer, sometimes a few weeks.
Pros: It’s affordable pain relief that kicks in quickly.
Cons: Ibuprofen’s anti-inflammatory effects don’t kick in quite as swiftly as the pain relief aspect. Also, you shouldn’t take it if you currently have or have had a peptic ulcer or severe heart disease, and you should proceed with extreme caution if you have asthma, liver or kidney problems, a history of heart attacks or stroke, hypertension or narrowing of the arteries. Side effects of usage can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, dizziness, edema, elevated blood pressure, rash, ulcer formation and worsening of asthma. Some women have even experienced fertility issues after long-term use.
How It Works: A powerful anti-inflammatory with antibiotic and antiseptic properties, turmeric contains the compound curcumin, which blocks inflammation at a molecular level. It has long been used to treat many conditions and ailments, including arthritis, acne, eczema, psoriasis and bladder infections. It improves liver function and has even shown potential in recent studies for preventing or slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s, as well as slowing the spread of cancer cells.
Pros: It’s an all-natural, affordable anti-inflammatory and pain reliever with no side effects, and because it’s so antioxidant-rich, it provides a whole host of added health benefits.
Cons: If you’re taking medications for diabetes or high blood pressure, turmeric could increase the strength of said medications, so as with anything, always consult with your physician before adding it into your regimen.
The verdict: Turmeric wins. If you can achieve the same pain- and inflammation-relief with zero side effects, plus the added health benefits turmeric affords, why not go for the all-natural option?