Do you have joint pain (osteoarthritis)? Japanese White Turmeric can help reduce inflammation and pain with minimal side effects. In research done so far (see below for further discussion), around 70% of osteoarthritis participants had significant and/or good improvement. There have been no side effects reported, and Japanese White Turmeric can be taken with other medication, even those not related to osteoarthritis treatment. How does this turmeric work? Why should you trust the results? Read on to find out!
How does Japanese White Turmeric differ from other Turmeric?
There are many different types of turmeric found around the world. The one you are most likely familiar with is Curcuma Longa, which is yellow in colour and commonly found in Indian food and as supplements. Japanese White Turmeric is also of the variety Curcuma Longa, but with a major difference. Most Curcuma Longa contains a compound called Curcumin. While Curcumin has some effect on arthritis , it is not nearly as effective as the Labdane-type diterpenes in Japanese White Turmeric in treating osteoarthritis (OA) .
How does Japanese White Turmeric work?
Japanese White Turmeric contains Labdane-type Diterpenes (Labdane). In fact, it is the only turmeric species known in the world that contains a large amount of Labdane-type Diterpenes, enough to form a supplement. This is in contrast to their small amounts of Curcumin. Labdane, found in the root, has the ability to strongly reduce inflammation which occurs in the joint capsule. Why is this significant?
To understand why preventing inflammation is so important to the body, you have to understand how the joint works. At each joint is something called cartilage that cushions your joints. This cartilage is the most important structure in maintaining smooth, complex movements of your joints. Cartilage does not have any nerves, blood vessels, or lymphatic vessels leading into it, but is nourished by the synovial fluid surrounding the joint.
As you age and go about life, this cartilage wears out and becomes damaged. This deforms the surrounding bone structure and causes inflammation which thickens the synovial membrane that wraps around the bone. This inflamed membrane secretes excessive fluids that expand the joint capsule, the ‘bag’ encapsulating the joint, and inflammation promoters lead to the cartilage and bone degrading .
Labdanes were tested and scientists found that they could control inflammation in the synovial membrane. This eventually leads to a better cartilage condition. This finding led to further research in two locations in Japan which showed that Labdanes could help improve osteoarthritis in humans. They work by inhibiting lipoxygenase activity and reduce free radical production. Fewer free radicals lead to less inflammation, thus preventing your cartilage from degrading further.
At the time of writing, Turmeron Joint is the only supplement that tackles primary inflammation, with the patent on it saying that it is an ‘inhibition agent of synovial membrane growth’.
How does this compare to other Supplements for joint pain?
Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Because of the high concentration of 2 different types of acids, Omega-3 Fatty Acids is thought to be able to reduce pain. However, present evidence suggests that there is no effect on osteoarthritis, and evidence is of low quality. This includes fish oil, krill oil, and GLM extracts .
Vitamins D and E: An analysis of current studies found that Vitamin D and E had no effect on osteoarthritis treatment. The evidence was a mix of both low and moderate quality, so further study will have to be done to give a definite conclusion. Vitamin E supplementation is associated with a higher risk of bleeding, so do be careful if you are taking blood-thinning medications !
Glucosamine: A natural amino sugar produced by your body, there is a high concentration of Glucosamine in your joints and cartilage. Glucosamine is normally taken with Chondroitin when taken as a supplement. Research is mixed on its effectiveness, even after several studies with hundreds of participants . The effect size is small, probably not clinically significant, and maybe biased.
Collagen: A protein found in your body, supposedly consuming collagen as a supplement will help in decreasing cartilage degeneration. There are several different types of Collagen, the two more common ones being collagen hydrolysate and undenatured collagen.
- Collagen hydrolysate: Collagen hydrolysate had a small and probably non-clinically important effect on the body. However, it is recognized as safe and only expected gastrointestinal issues were reported .
- Undenatured collagen: Undenatured collagen had a better effect than Glucosamine + Chondroitin (see above) and better than placebo .
Plant Derivatives: Plant-based derivatives include an Avocado/Soybean mix, Rose Hip, Curcumin, the compound found in most turmeric species, and Labdane-type Diterpenes, found in Japanese White Turmeric.
- Avocado/Soybean: In theory, a one-third mix of avocado oil with a two-third mix of soybean oil can help in cartilage processing. Unfortunately, high-quality studies show that this mix is of no help in slowing structural loss in your joints and in reducing pain either. This mix can come with expected side effects, such as gastrointestinal and neurological issues, though the effects are mild .
- Rose Hip: Part of the Rose flower, the latest experiment did not show any effects on patient symptoms. At the same time, there were no side effects either .
- Curcumin: Yes, Curcumin has proven anti-inflammatory properties that can help with the inflammation found in arthritic joints. However, the body finds it difficult to absorb Curcumin, so modifications have to be made to assist the body in taking it up. Evidence for its effectiveness is low. Blood thinners can interfere with Curcumin, so be careful .
- Labdane-type Diterpenes: There are studies ongoing to further determine the efficacy of Labdanes. However, the evidence we do have suggests that there are no side effects, nor interactions with other drugs. For example, patients did not experience the gastrointestinal issues associated with other supplements. Despite its newness in the market, Labdanes have been clinically approved, with two patents put on them.
The first patent was taken on Japanese White Turmeric extract and the second patent on the powder form of the dried root. Both patents were taken for their effectiveness in preventing arthritis by preventing the synovial membrane from growing abnormally  .
What research has been done on Japanese White Turmeric?
The initial trials to test the efficacy and safety of Labdanes were done first in-house with 60 patients. After this at Sodegaura hospital, with 30 patients . In Both cases, patients had OA on the knees, which carry a large amount of the body’s weight. In both cases, patients were given 3.2mg of Labdane in 2 capsules and their pain measured on a scale called the Visual Analogue Scale (VAS), which is based on a rating between 0-10. While patients initially reported moderate to severe pain (5.2 ± 2.6), the pain dropped to mild to moderate pain after 4 weeks (3.8 ± 3.0) and 8 weeks (2.7 ± 2.5) . Some patients experienced complete pain-free. These results were statistically significant, meaning that the drop in pain was likely because of the Labdane rather than by chance.
What further research is being done?
There is a double-blind placebo-controlled randomized clinical trial that is being planned in Tokyo with Japanese patients. However, more significantly, a Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Randomized Clinical Trial has been arranged with Dr Kaj Winther of Denmark, which is being carried out between October 2019 and July 2020 and the results will be published soon after.
A Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Randomized Control Trial is important because it is commonly held as the best type of experiment that gives us good evidence of cause and effect. If the study is successful, we can be more sure that Japanese White Turmeric and its Labdane-type Diterpenes has a significant effect on pain reduction. You can find more about Dr Winther in this reference .
*******This educational article was brought to you by Tumeron Joint.*******
Where can I get Japanese White Turmeric?
Japanese White Turmeric is currently only grown in Kyushu, Japan. As there is a patent on the plant and its medicinal properties, only Turmeron Joint and its allied companies can sell it as a supplement. Japanese White Turmeric is only grown between March and November and only harvested once a year. Once harvested, the plant is dried and the active ingredient extracted and turned into a capsule for your consumption at GMP and FDA certified factory. Turmeron Joint took 17 years to develop.
Japanese White Turmeric is a promising supplement compared to other alternatives found on the market. It is clinically approved for osteoarthritis and you have little to lose in trying out this supplement before taking more extensive treatments.
Dr Henry Chan is an orthopaedic surgeon practising at Mount Elizabeth Hospital. Dr Chan specialises in the management of adult and child fractures and trauma, general orthopaedic injuries, sports injuries of the ligament and meniscus, and degenerative spine conditions including prolapsed intervertebral discs (slipped discs). In his free time, he enjoys singing karaoke.