Oh, My Aching Back!


Here’s something different today. Let’s talk about PAIN.

I’ve mentioned it a few times. I have two depleted disks in my lower back and nerve damage in my right shoulder. Playing sports hard for more than a decade can do a lot of damage to your body.

When I go over to the den to sit and read, I can’t stay in the chair for more than an hour at a time. A recliner naturally puts your weight on your tailbone, and the pain builds. We have to take frequent breaks when we’re out on the motorcycle to give my tailbone some relief. After playing a few hours of Dr. Mario, my right arm feels like it wants to fall off. Lying in bed at night is when I feel all of the pain everywhere at one time. Sometimes I can’t sleep because of pain and turning over is a killer.

What to do?

I don’t take anything for pain during the day. My aches and pains are bearable, and because I sit in an office chair at my desk, I can lean forward a bit and stay off of my tailbone. However, every night before bed, I take four ibuprofen. Without them, it’s nearly impossible to sleep.

An article on pain caught my eye last year. It extolled the benefits of Imagecurcumin, which is the major component of the spice tumeric. Curcumin is supposed to have anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor, and antioxidant properties. I didn’t really care about anything but the pain claims.

I read quite a bit of information about curcumin before I ordered a bottle. It was being touted as a miracle cure for all manner of ailments, and I’m sure some of it was hype, but if it could give me any relief from pain, I was in.

At first, I took it as recommended, but gradually upped my pills to take two in the morning and two at night – four grams per day. I had no side effects whatsoever.

One night it dawned on me that I hadn’t taken any ibuprofen for a few days. I hadn’t been having any pain that would send me to the IB bottle, and I was sleeping through the night. I realized my pain level had gone down dramatically. By month’s end, my arm wasn’t bothering me, and I was comfortable in bed at night. Riding the motorcycle this past summer was much easier, and I could ride for an hour before wanting to take a short break.


The Longaberger Basket building. An hour and fifteen minutes from our home, and we made the trip down without stopping for my back.

The day-to-day pain associated with my arms and back was completely gone!

I thought about this today, because in my complacency, I haven’t ordered any curcumin for several months, and I’ve become a miserable wreck with pain again. After I took four ibuprofen last night before bed, I knew I needed to order another bottle, and I did that first thing this morning.

For me, it works for pain, and it works great.

If you’re curious, I take Doctor’s Best Curcumin C3 Complex with Bioperine (1000 mg tablets). I order it from Amazon. I am not a paid or unpaid spokesperson.

Disclaimer: If you take blood thinners, this isn’t for you. As with any supplement, check with your doctor before taking.

Have any of you tried curcumin for pain? What do you take for pain?

113 thoughts on “Oh, My Aching Back!

  1. While studying for my exam, I’ve just read a chapter on how certain hot spices stimulates pain receptors and block the pain. It’s really fascinating and interesting to learn that it actually works. Hurry up and order another batch of Curcumin:)

  2. Interesting! So it helps you sleep because it eases the pain? I have a frozen shoulder. P.T. three times a week. Sleeping more than a couple of hours is impossible. I may give this a try. THANK YOU, Maddie! (Is the photo in Ohio? I recall passing near the place on a trip to PA once…or did I dream that?) ♥ keep writing!

  3. I have read about certain chilis that help with pain. But I haven’t kept up with my herbs and spices for health reasons. I am also always in pain, mostly because of the diabetes. I wonder if it would work for that, I also have arthritis in my hip and knees. I will have to look into this. thanks Maddie! 🙂


  5. Gosh, Maddie, I’m so sorry that you’ve been experiencing such pain, but I’m so pleased that you’ve found a good alternative, that’s fabulous! 🙂 I think it’s good to avoid Ibuprofen if you can. Last year I had to use them but then had to be prescribed additional tablets to combat the Ibuprofen’s side effects. Eek. I like to avoid pain pills where possible, I’m so glad to hear about this alternative. 🙂

    • As much as I hate the pain, I wouldn’t give up all those years of racquetball for anything. 🙂 I worry about Ibuprofen. I hate that I started taking it again, and I want to get off of it as soon as possible.

  6. I also have a lot of back pain, so that’s a great tip I will try out.
    I have just invested in our new remedy. After paying a ridiculous amount of money 3 years ago for a super special all singing and dancing mattress with bells on it (actually, that does not sound conducive to a good nights sleep) which was meant to help my back, and being thoroughly disgusted with how quickly it has sagged and no longer helps at all 😦 Mr G has been researching beds to help me.
    So 2 weeks ago we took delivery of our new water bed. Oh My! It is amazing. They are not the old style wobbly balloon you see in cheesy 60’s movies. This is a firm and supportive mattress – they come in different level of firm – which is heated slightly. Its like lying on a hot water bottle which just curves into my back. I have been able to sleep on my side for the first time in about 8 years. And it was half the price of the previously mentioned supper sagger mattress. Give me time, I will blog the pictures! (of the installation, not of my back, or the old mattress. Yuch!)

    • I tried all of those amazing things you put on a mattress. Then I have to have a pillow between my knees, and another pillow for my right arm, and, of course, just the right pillow for under my head … it’s a pain in the butt going to bed.

      I think that’s fantastic you got a water bed. Even the old wobbly ones of old were pretty comfortable to sleep in. I’d like to see the pictures, so that will be a good post! 🙂

  7. This is interesting, Ms Maddie. My mother has slipped disc (L5-S1 if memory serves me right) since 2007, and it came to a point that she would stop half-way while crossing the street because she couldn’t bear the pain.

    I’ll pass this on to her—at least something that’s not too harmful for her health. Thank you! 🙂

  8. I take vodka for pain. Kidding. Kind of.

    I have an arm/shoulder issue that causes a lot of pain and I am still at a point where I can handle it, so please let me know what you find out!

  9. That’s incredible! I am not certain but one of curcumin and tumeric’s components is a natural derivative for anti inflammatory meds…kinda like how aspirin is made from Willow. SO GLAD you are finding relief!

  10. Working in pediatrics, I’ve not encountered this alternative practice for joint pain. I did a quick look on WebMD and found this: http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/lifestyle-guide-11/alternatives-and-supplements-for-arthritis-joint-pain?page=4. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. I’d like to read more about it when I have time.

    As for the Longaberger Basket factory–isn’t that the coolest? I went there shortly after we moved to Ohio in 2001, and I loved it.

      • I’m not a big fan of drugs. Obviously, when they’re needed, they’re needed and can be life-saving. But sometimes other alternatives work well too, such as healthy foods, sleep, and exercise (studies have shown exercise can be as effective as an anti-depressant in mild to moderate depression). That being said, alternative ‘natural’ therapies also need to be looked into before taking them. Many are not what they claim. It’s nice to see Curcumin has had some preliminary studies behind it, though more clinical trials are ongoing.

        Oops. I went on a tangent. Sorry, Maddie!

        • No problem, Carrie! I debated about posting the recommendation, but I read a ton about the studies before taking it, and the effect on my pain was remarkable.

          My brother took niacin for high blood pressure and had a bad reaction; I’ve read about people who used St. John’s Wort only to find out it had bad side effects. I realize many supplements are not necessarily good for you.

          I was desperate to get off of ibuprofen at the time, so I read a huge amount of information. Of course, there were testimonials in the mix, and I liked that many people said their doctors told them to take it.

          I talked to a man locally who told me he buys it for his mother who has cancer and it helps with her pain. The funny thing is, I think I was originally reading an article about curcumin and weight loss, and the information about pain was included. That’s what set me on the path to reading about it.

          Exercise and sleep are so much easier and effective without pain.

          • Agreed. And I think it’s great you’ve found an alternative to Ibuprofen, which of course comes with its own goody bag of side effects. And good for you for doing your research. I wish more people would do that. I’m all for alternative therapies that have been shown to work and are safe. I think they need to do a much better job of teaching medical students about them. I’d rather take something like curcumin than a costly, fancy pharmaceutical drug if they both achieve the same result. I’m sure most insurers would agree, too. 🙂

        • When I made this original comment, I was referring to not being a fan of pharmaceutical drugs. I’m all for an alternative therapy like Curcumin if it’s found to be safe and effective. Just thought I should clarify that.

    • I chance encountered that basket for the first time when traveling to a book sale. I had never heard about it, and I was kind of freaked out when I saw it in the distance. By the time I was next to it, I could barely drive and concentrate on traffic because I was rubber-necking so bad. 🙂

  11. Maddie, I just read an article that said they’re testing a ‘Star Trek’ like headband that sends electric pulses to the central nerve in the brain and this supposedly reduces bad migraines by up to 50%. It’s not approved in the US yet (just Europe), but they’re testing a similar wand like device that one would hold over a painful area of the body and it would do the same thing. Pretty neat, huh?

    • Now that would be magical! Run a wand over my body and “poof” pain is gone. … I hope this works for people with migraines. You suffer from them, don’t you? It would be wonderful to have something to reduce pain.

    • Coffee is bad for you. Coffee is good for you. Eggs are bad for you. Eggs are good for you. Wine is bad for you. Wine is good for you. Sometimes, the information goes back and forth so much, that you have no idea what’s good for you and what isn’t.

      Because there are so many claims being made about curcumin, there are clinical trials and extensive research is being conducted. So far, there is nothing to give me pause, and I could kick myself for not keeping up with it.

      When I search curcumin + a disease, there is usually information indicating that research is underway – and with positive results in the pain and inflammation arena.

      I will take care of myself. 🙂

  12. As you know mine required more drastic measures and I had surgery but I have to say I have now come off all my medication and am gradually getting my mobility back I actually tried acupuncture at one point which helped for a couple of days a week

    • Oh, how I flinched with your surgery! It made me queasy. I’m so glad it went well for you. Getting off your meds is great.

      I’m a fan of acupuncture, because it worked for me. However, I wished I would have known more about it at the time. When I found out I had nerve damage in my shoulder, the doctor told me I had to quit playing racquetball. What?!! No way. I had a tournament in two weeks.

      I went to an acupuncturist. I played racquetball for several more years. I didn’ t realize that acupuncture breaks up the pain waves to the brain (simplistic term), and I was doing even more damage to my arm.

      • have you stopped singing lumberjack song yet? Sorry about that if it makes you feel better was preparing songs that make you cry for later in week and made mistake of watching the video for one of them was blubbing for ages

  13. That is very interesting, Maddie…
    I’m so sorry to hear about your ‘pain issues’, and yet very pleased to read about your cure…
    The first comment held a lot of promise for those with such issues:
    “I’ve just read a chapter on how certain hot spices stimulates pain receptors and block the pain.”
    Here’s to receiving your new batch…!

    • There is a lot of good information coming out of research for curcumin – helping with depression, asthma, cancer, and more. But I *know* it worked for my pain. I’m excited for the new batch, and will keep you posted!

  14. Curcumin? I remember studying that in geometry class: the curcumin of a circle = 2πr… yeah, I’ve learned a few things over the years… : )

    Fascinating story, Maddie, and I, too, am very sorry to hear about your back problems. Glad you found something that really seems to help.

    Now would you please move that motorcycle?? It’s blocking the door. Little Red Riding Hood says she wants to get in and get an apple π and a blueberry π so she can make a curcumin casserole for her grandmother… : P

    • Oh, silly man, in geometry class you learned about circumcision. Pi? I baked and ate an entire apple pi once. Over the course of the day, I ate a little piece here, a little piece there, and before you knew it, it had disappeared. Never told anyone I made it, so they never knew they missed it. 🙂

  15. Aww, I’m sorry to hear that you’ve been having such pains, Maddie! =[ Thank goodness for the Curcumin though; it’s amazing how much natural remedies are often so much better than artificial painkillers. Thankfully I don’t have any pains aside from the occasional headache, and that’s only when I don’t sleep enough. I usually take Panadol or Advil for that. 🙂

  16. Hey Maddie – I’m really sorry to hear about your back pain. There is nothing worse than trying to live with chronic pain. I’m a big believer in natural medicines but some of them can have side effects and need to be thoroughly researched – seems you’ve done a lot of research on this one, which is fantastic. I really hope it works again for you and thank you so much for telling us about it 😀

    ps – please wear a bike helmet or I’ll have a heart attack as well 😯

  17. Wow! Yet another Twilight Zone moment. My 3 lowest disks are all but gone, and I have osteo arthritis in both of my hips and my lower back. I also need to have surgery on both of my feet. I’ve been in some type of pain for as many years as I can remember, and long ago, when I was very over weight, I couldn’t get out of bed without help-not because I was THAT overweight, but the arthritis was very aggrevated by my my bulk. I also take 4 Tylenol or whatever is lying around every night before I go to bed, toss and turn all night, and have to sleep with a pillow between my knees to alleviate hip pain. Thanks so much for this info. I’ve never heard of this stuff, but now I want to try it. If you say it works, then it’s good enough for me!

    • Don’t give me too much credit; it was only 5. 😉 For most of the year, I was taking curcumin and feeling really good. It’s only been in the last four months that I’ve let it slide, and the pain has just all reared it’s ugly head again, which is probably why writing is slow going right now; I’m kind of on the cranky side.

        • No. 🙂 It’s two ruptured disks. Surprisingly, my office chair is the one place I’m comfortable. I lean forward a bit to my desk, and there is no pressure on my tailbone.

          I see you have a new post about your parents. I’ll be by soon to read!!

  18. Hate to be “the guy” . . . but if someone asked people to be part of a clinical trial to figure out if a drug is harmful or not, most people would have second thoughts. This is exactly like that.

    There is no solid profile on the risk/benefits for this drug (and it is a drug). It’s great that it worked to alleviate the pain, but one has no basis to compare it to ibuprofen and call it safer (other than people know the risk/reward of ibuprofen).

    Also, we have no idea what the long-term effects associated with taking this drug; there are no double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized studies. The one study that showed its effectiveness in alleviating pain relater to arthritis concluded it is as effective as ibuprofen in controlling pain.

    You do not mention if you have adverse reactions to ibuprofen, so the question is . . . could you up the ibuprofen dose, like you did for curcumin, to control the pain to the same degree? By all accounts, the side effects of ibuprofen are negligible relative to the pain relief (for some they can be severe, but the percentage is very small). We don’t know what the side effects (short term or long term are for curcumin, except as self-reported). Add the fact people vary in their reactions to a given drug (normally within a known range), and it seems risky to me . . . Personally, I would want to see robust clinical trials.

    I mention it because if we are discussing anecdotal evidence, I know people with chronic pain that use ibuprofen on a regular basis with no side effects. I’ve taken high doses of ibuprofen for extended periods of time (couple of weeks) with no noticeable adverse effects, but then it did not help much with the pain (to be fair, for my last two shoulder surgeries I was prescribed Vicodin, and it had no discernible effect. I was then prescribed Percocet, and it too was ineffective – still have 48 tablets of each).

    Anyway, I hope it does work for you, but can’t help worry when people are willing to try stuff for which there is little more than self-reported “data”. The side effects that are know, seemingly as rare as those associated with ibuprofen, are not all trivial.

    to with:
    “In vitro and in vivo studies suggest that curcumin can have carcinogenic effects.[56][57][58]
    Clinical studies in humans with high doses (2–12 grams) of curcumin have shown few side effects, with some subjects reporting mild nausea or diarrhea.[59] More recently, curcumin was found to alter iron metabolism by chelating iron and suppressing the protein hepcidin, potentially causing iron deficiency in susceptible patients.[60] Further studies seem to be necessary to establish the benefit/risk profile of curcumin.[56]”

    Before I get flooded with comments about big pharma, the perils of modern medicine, and questioning my ability to reason, know this . . . I could care less what anyone takes. Adults can make decisions based on whatever methodology makes them comfortable, and are (seemingly) capable of accepting the responsibility for their actions. But, there is a subset of humans who, while mistrusting of anything with the word “Inc.” after their name, are perfectly willing to go by word of mouth with nary a drop of research.

    So, while Maddie goes to great pains to suggest people do their own research, this subset of people have heard all they care about . . . it worked for one person. Everything else is “blah blah blah” as far as they are concerned . . . which begs the question why I even wrote the above. Whatever one might guess at, please don’t go spreading rumors I actually care about other people . . . that is a mean, and plain nasty rumor to spread about me.

    • Hi Emilio! Your opinion is always welcome here. I actually tried to look past anecdotal evidence to find my information. If you google curcumin + “clinical trials,” one of your first options is Scholarly Articles. There are many articles related to Phase I and Phase II trials. Some dating back to 1996. GreenMedInfo keeps a list of published articles and notes if they were human or animal studies: http://www.greenmedinfo.com/substance/curcumin I read a ton of articles before I gave curcumin a try.

      As always, I think people should read to educate themselves, and check with their doctor – especially if they are already on medication.

      • I read that literature (abstracts), but unfortunately could not get to the methodology for the studies.

        Not a big deal. I’m happy to wait for more information/studies. But, again, the best that I can see shows that it “can be as effective” as ibuprofen.

        So, given the side effects similarity (stands to reason since they are purported to do the same things), and given the efficacy similarity, the preference of one versus the other (for me) would come down to how much each costs.

        Based on a cursory “look-see” ibuprofen is half the cost of curcumin (and usually cheaper than that depending who sells the curcumin – and this comparing to Advil; generic ibuprofen is cheaper still).

        Again, not looking to argue. I’m trying to gauge why not use ibuprofen. Unless one is in a very rare grouping which has issues with ibuprofen, it seems the safer choice as it is been tested up the wazoo (not literally . . . near as I know, there are no ibuprofen suppository capsules).

        Anyway, the subject has already taxed my limited supply of both interest and available time (reading reports is rather boring; no character development, and I can generally guess the outcome within the first few sentences).

  19. Maddie, this is a happy coincidence. I cut out an article in a local newspaper that talked about healthful combinations. One of them was: turmeric and black pepper. I’m typing it out verbatim.

    +superhero powers
    Curcumin + piperine = disease-fighting powerhouse.
    Turmeric is a rich source of curcumin, a polyphenol with a strong anti-inflammatory effect. It can help fight cancer, Altzheimers and other inflammatory diseases.
    The problem is, researchers say curcumin’s bioavailability is poor, meaning youer boidy struggles to absorb enough for it to have an impact.
    That’s where your pepper grinder comes in. Research has found black pepper can increase curumin’s bioavailability by up to 2000 per cent.

    So, while you’re waiting for the tablets, maybe a bit of tumeric and pepper in your dishes might make a difference. So glad for you.

    • Hi Mary! I knew about the absorption. The curcumin I chose has BioPerine which helps with absorption. I take it on an empty stomach with a fish oil tablet (or some yogurt), and it worked for me. I like pepper, so I’ll just use more now! 🙂

  20. Thankfully I don’t have to worry about pain too much. I played sports for… the great majority of my life (I can say that now since I’m still on the young side), and I haven’t had too many issues. Very minor back issues on rare occasions and also asthma, but apart from that, not too much trouble! Ibuprofen has been a life saver for me, though, when it comes to killer headaches.

    That all said! I’m glad you found something that works. =D Being pain free with no side effects is a woot in my book.

    • I shouldn’t say sports are bad for your body. 😉 I just knew I had problems and should have quit, but didn’t, and now I’m paying the piper. This is a woot I’m happy about. The difference was remarkable, and there are so many other good things about curcumin, I was probably doing myself a lot of good by taking it anyway.

  21. Thanks for sharing your experience with curcumin Maddie. I’ve been hearing a lot about it and considered it but haven’t known anyone who has used it. I have lower back issues and arthritis in my hip. I know what a pain bedtime is.
    That is the COOLEST building I’ve ever seen! I love it! And I come from the land of outrageously cool buildings Las Vegas. Wish we had a basket building here. How fun that must be!

    • The basket is pretty cool. 🙂

      I wanted to write this post about pain, but I had more results than that. Because of the nerve damage in my arm, I have a frequent “buzzing” in my shoulder. That’s not exactly right, but it feels electrical in nature. Ibuprofen never helps that uncomfortable, bordering on painful, feeling in my arm. When I was taking the curcumin for a few months, that went away completely, and I felt I had more range of motion in both of my arms. Cancer is prevalent in my family, and I like the anti-cancer properties it has as well. My blood pressure was down while taking curcumin, too. Please do read up on it.

  22. I generally ignore the pain as far as i am able.
    The worst is the knees when i wake up – as a favorite movie character once said, “It’s not teh years. It’s the mileage.”
    I’ll have to check out the curcumin. And start cooking with more turmeric.

    • Hi El Guapo. It’s Friday! I need to head on over to your place! Curcumin is supposed to help with joint pain, and I know I had more range of motion in my arms when I was taking it daily.

      I read a recent article by a doctor who is excited by the initial curcumin studies, and she said to sprinkle turmeric liberally on your foods. I don’t know that I want to do that, but I do think I will use it more in cooking.

  23. Thanks for the information on Curcumin, I’ll have to check it out. I’m sorry to hear you suffer with so much pain, I can relate.
    I’ve always wanted to vist the Longaberger factory, how fun to have a building the shape of a basket. I have a few of their baskets that I just love. hmmmm looks like Wally and I should take a road trip.
    I’ve been thinking about starting a diet site, I struggle with my weight everyday, so I thought a diet site on WordPress would be a good idea. What do you think?

    • I think a diet site is a great idea. This time of year, especially, it seems as though *everyone* wants to diet and lose some weight. You would have tips, yes? I’ve seen three types of diet blogs – those where someone chronicles their weight loss journey, those where there is advice and help given, and then those where they are combined. All are good ideas.

      Rich came over a little bit ago and told me he read an article today (on a news site) about cholesterol. He takes statins, so he was interested. This doctor isn’t a fan of statins, and here is what he said near the end of the article: “Then there is curcumin; I am nuts about this,” Bowden said. “…This is the stuff that makes Indian food yellow – turmeric. It has anti-inflammation; it has antioxidants; it’s good for the liver.”

      Mine will be delivered this Wednesday, and I’m looking forward to taking it again. I’m not on anything for blood pressure, but I can tell when mine is up. I didn’t have any of those feelings after I had been taking the curcumin for a while, so yes, look into it. 🙂

      • Sorry I haven’t got back to you, I’ve been under the weather. I’m still not to sure if I’m going to do the diet site or not. If I did it would be about my daily ups and downs on dieting. And I’m sure I would tell what works for me and what doesn’t. I hope all is well with the writing, I wish your energy would rub off on me, I’ve been a couch potato lately.

  24. Boy, I wish a bottle would appear before me now!! I had knee surgery on the 13th and am in a bit of pain…actually quite a bit. I also have several chronic conditions with my back, so I will have to look into the curcumin, Thanks, Maddie.

    • Barb! So glad to see you. I was wondering how you have been faring since your surgery. I hope with every day your pain will lessen. As for the curcumin, it doesn’t work like when you take an aspirin or ibuprofen. I took it every day, and over time, I noticed the pain diminishing. Obviously, after I stopped taking it, the pain came back over time. I think it’s one of those things like vitamins, or fish oil, or any supplement … you continue to take them to reap the benefits. Definitely look into it and see if it’s right for you.

    • Maggie, I have been taking it again for a week now. I have had no ibuprofen since I started taking it, and I have been jotting down my pain level every day. It’s pretty high, but I noticed my back is better today. I’m thinking it might take another week or two for it to help on the level it was before. Definitely read about it. I take 1,000 mg. a day for the first week, 2,000 mg. a day for the second week, and then 4,000 mg. a day from there on out. Cancer patients take 8,000 mg. a day, and that is the very top of the limit for safe usage, so I’m comfortable in the 4,000 mg. per day zone – and that’s what worked so well for me before.

      • Tony, definitely have Michelle read about this and ask her doctor. Most doctors are aware of the benefits of curcumin now. I’ve only been taking it again for a week. It will likely be another week or two before I see good results again.

    • Hi Tony! I haven’t forgotten about you and The Tasmanians. I’ll be by to catch up with you this weekend. We own a 1984 Honda Aspencade. I guess it’s an old bike, isn’t it, but it runs great, and I love it! 🙂

      • I have a 125 motor scooter at the moment. Awesomely cheap commuting. $6 of petrol lasts me for about 2 weeks of travelling to work. My last bike was a Yamaha XJ650. I’d love another bigger bike again but can’t justify the cost just to travel to work.

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