It may seem like a strange question, and you might be thinking “Well of course turmeric won’t make the injury worse, its going to reduce the inflammation, not increase it”. And you’d be right, this is exactly how turmeric works and there is plenty of anecdotal evidence and controlled trials that show this to be the case. The interesting thing however, is that turmeric’s effectiveness in reducing inflammation and pain, can actually be the catalyst for worsening an injury…. and when you think about it, this makes sense.
Let me give you an example. Let’s say you fall down and hurt your knee. Not the “Oh no, I’ve grazed my knee” type of pain, but the “I haven’t been able to walk properly for the last 3 weeks” type of pain. The usual symptoms develop: redness, swelling, bruising, loss of movement and of course pain (particularly with walking or pressure). So you’re out of action and probably hobbling around trying to make do. You remember how great turmeric is for the pain and inflammation and so you triple the dose to get quick results. Turmeric is an extremely safe herb with a very large therapeutic range so this is not a problem and its working. The pain is disappearing and after the 4th day you’re wondering if you even hurt your knee at all. And this is where the problems can start.
Pain Pathology vs Pain Perception
There is a big difference between pain perception and pain pathology. So in this case, the knee may not be fully healed but because of the effects of turmeric, you may not be feeling any pain. Naturally you’re going to be walking around, maybe even running or going back to the gym etc, without realizing that while you’re not in pain, your knee is not yet healed and needs more time to recover. This can then cause problems and actually make the pathology worse and start to cause real damage, such as scar tissue, bursitis or worn ligaments.
A customer actually experienced this and it was very close to this example. Her daughter had a bad knee and was taking the turmeric which really helped with the pain, so she felt better and didn’t let her knee heal. She started going on hikes and running around, and so on, and stopped the turmeric thinking everything was back to normal. The knee pain came back but this time it was worse.
Can turmeric make an injury worse? Well not directly, but since it is so effective at reducing pain, you just have to be careful and let your injury heal, especially if it was a nasty one. Give yourself time to heal and recover. Mild exercise and movement can be very helpful in the healing process and is usually recommended as it significantly increases blood flow. A good diet can do the same and gives your injury the building blocks for strength and repair. Remember, protein needs double when you’re injured.
In summary, if you’re taking turmeric for an injury, even though you may not be in much pain anymore, give yourself some down time for proper healing and repair.