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Collagen vs turmeric for joint health

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There are several different supplements with beneficial effects for joints, and it can be difficult to choose between them. For example, when it comes to coping with joint pain, is collagen or turmeric best? Find out here.

What is collagen?

Collagen is the main structural protein in the body, providing the scaffolding for all tissues, including joint cartilage and ligaments. There are at least 28 different types of collagen, based on the structure of their twisted molecules. Type II collagen (made up of loosely packed fibres) is incorporated into joint collagen to improve its elasticity and resilience.

What does collagen do?

Collagen supplements provide building blocks that stimulate the synthesis of collagen to help protect joints.

Do collagen supplements work?

In people with osteoarthritis, collagen supplements can help to maintain the structure of the joint and reduce discomfort. A study involving 250 people with osteoarthritis of the knee found that taking hydrolysed collagen supplements every day for 6 months reduced pain and stiffness significantly.

Those with the greatest joint degeneration and the lowest dietary intake of meat benefited the most.1

Among 97 athletes who experienced knee pain when exercising, taking hydrolysed collagen supplements for 6 months improved joint mobility and reduced joint pain at rest and when walking, standing, running, lifting or carrying weights, compared with placebo. They were also able to exercise longer, with a quicker recovery afterwards.2

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What is turmeric?

Turmeric is a traditional Ayurvedic medicine with numerous uses, including the suppression of inflammation and pain.

What does turmeric do?

Research shows that turmeric's active ingredient, curcumin, blocks the production of the powerful inflammatory chemical TNF-alpha, which is also targeted by new antibody treatments given to treat severe inflammatory disease.3,4

Although these medical treatments must be given by injection, turmeric remains active when taken in supplement form.

What is turmeric good for?

Turmeric also has a beneficial action on joint cartilage cells to reduce their degradation and improve their survival. Laboratory studies involving cultured human knee cartilage cells found that adding a turmeric extract protected cartilage stability by maintaining the balance between the synthesis and breakdown of cartilage.5

How does turmeric help your joints?

Turmeric can reduce pain and inflammation in the short term, and this is prolonged when the supplement is taken regularly. Turmeric can also preserve joint cartilage in the long term.

A study involving 160 people with knee osteoarthritis found that turmeric was significantly better than placebo in reducing pain, stiffness and improving joint function.6 In 367 people with knee osteoarthritis, turmeric was as effective as ibuprofen in reducing pain, but with less abdominal discomfort as a side effect.7

Overall, the results from 8 randomised clinical studies confirmed that turmeric significantly reduces joint pain compared with placebo and is at least as effective as prescribed pain medicines in the treatment of arthritis.8

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Is it better to take turmeric and collagen together?

An in-depth review of supplements used to help osteoarthritis concluded that both collagen hydrolysate and turmeric had large and clinically important short-term effects on pain reduction.9

Undenatured type II collagen also had clinically important effects on pain in the medium term, and other studies have shown that turmeric also has long-term protective effects on cartilage health.

Both supplements work in different ways to complement the other's action. However, we are all different and respond to supplements in different ways depending on the genes we have inherited. There are therefore several strategies you could try depending on your level of symptoms.

  1. Start taking either turmeric or collagen to assess your response. If you don't achieve the desired improvement within 12 weeks, switch to the other supplement.
  2. Start taking either turmeric or collagen to assess your response. If you don't achieve the desired improvement within 12 weeks, add in the other supplement.
  3. Start by taking both turmeric and collagen together until you achieve control of discomfort, then consider stopping one of the supplements to see if your symptoms worsen.


If you have any medical condition, or are taking any prescribed medicines, check with your doctor before taking any supplements.

It is safe to take both turmeric and collagen supplements together.

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1 Benito-Ruiz, P., et al. (2009). A randomized controlled trial on the efficacy and safety of a food ingredient, collagen hydrolysate, for improving joint comfort. International journal of food sciences and nutrition, 60 Suppl 2, 99-113.
2 Clarke, K.L., et al. (2008). 24-Week study on the use of collagen hydrolysate as a dietary supplement in athletes with activity-related joint pain. Current medical research and opinion, 24(5):1485-96.
3 Aggarwal, B. B., Gupta, S. C., & Sung, B. (2013). Curcumin: an orally bioavailable blocker of TNF and other pro-inflammatory biomarkers. British journal of pharmacology, 169(8), 1672–1692.
4 Chin K. Y. (2016). The spice for joint inflammation: anti-inflammatory role of curcumin in treating osteoarthritis. Drug design, development and therapy, 10, 3029–3042.
5 Velusami, C. C., Richard, E. J., & Bethapudi, B. (2018). Polar extract of Curcuma longa protects cartilage homeostasis: possible mechanism of action. Inflammopharmacology, 26(5), 1233–1243.
6 Garcia, D. & Sikström, S. (2013). A Collective Theory of Happiness: Words Related to the Word "Happiness" in Swedish Online Newspapers. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 16:6, 469.
7 Kallistratos, M. S., Poulimenos, L. E., Tsinivizov, P., Varvarousis, D., Kouremenos, N., Pittaras, A., Triantafyllis, A. S., & Manolis, A. J. (2020). The effect of Mid-Day Sleep on blood pressure levels in patients with arterial hypertension. European journal of internal medicine, 80, 86–90.
8 Kuptniratsaikul, V., Dajpratham, P., Taechaarpornkul, W., Buntragulpoontawee, M., Lukkanapichonchut, P., Chootip, C., Saengsuwan, J., Tantayakom, K., & Laongpech, S. (2014). Efficacy and safety of Curcuma domestica extracts compared with ibuprofen in patients with knee osteoarthritis: a multicenter study. Clinical interventions in aging, 9, 451–458.
9 Daily, J. W., Yang, M., & Park, S. (2016). Efficacy of Turmeric Extracts and Curcumin for Alleviating the Symptoms of Joint Arthritis: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Clinical Trials. Journal of medicinal food, 19(8), 717–729.