Turmeric, Ginger and Milk Thistle…Oh My!

Dr. Franklin Wefald says it helps him reduce inflammation.

From Heart Health Radio Episode 146:

Fred: A few weeks ago you recommended turmeric for inflammation and I was just wondering how much and how often?

Dave Alexander: Oh, turmeric. It’s not a medicine, it’s a supplement.

Dr. Frank Wefald: Right, it’s a spice. You know how spices got to be big in the world? Rancid meat. Yeah, because you couldn’t store it. There was no refrigerator. So, it was rancid and you poured turmeric on it. Now turmeric comes from the east, some part of Asia. It’s a yellow spice.

What it does it decrease the levels of these things called leukotrienes. Now, there may be some more things but these are exchanged signals between immune cells. The immune cells are good. Inflammation is good but the problem is, and this may come from the Neanderthals. We’ll talk about that later but you know we’re mixed up with those ancient humanoids and it causes there to be too much of these chemicals and they recruit all sorts of bad actors who tear up our body. So, turmeric has been shown to reduce the risk of inflammation, reduce the amounts of inflammation and that has been studied scientifically.

If you hear me say that something is good, there is scientific evidence. Now what do you do? There is a combination of turmeric and ginger, apparently that’s the best one. You can get that anywhere, Wal-Mart, Wally World and you can get it at any pharmacy. Turmeric and ginger and they recommend two capsules once a day. There are no negative side effects. You mean, you can’t find one.

Let me just tell you that we’re not selling you capsules of turmeric, ginger and milk thistle.

Dave Alexander

Fred: Would it be possible to take too much? Because I’m taking it three or four times a day and …

Dr. Frank Wefald: No, I don’t think it can hurt you. I don’t know, I think you can take it two or three times a day. I’m just saying that when I saw this study it said two of those capsules, once a day. Let me tell you, it could be a placebo effect. Do you have chronic pain, like in your back?

Fred: I do. I’ve got two 8” rods and screws. I have arthritis below that.

Dr. Frank Wefald: Well I can tell you…I’m sorry, go ahead, I’m interrupting you. I get so excited about this topic.

Fred: I have two 8” rods and 17 screws in my back and I have arthritis below the fusion. I’ve been taking the turmeric every two hours and it’s about all it lasts. It really helps, but it only lasts for two hours.

Dr. Frank Wefald: Yeah, let me tell you what may be better for you to do instead of taking one every couple of hours is to take two or three every four hours. There is something called a threshold. So, you may be getting a level in your bloodstream and I’m going to tell you the truth, I don’t know… What we call the half-life, which is how long it takes your body to eliminate half of the drug, but it’s a threshold to hit it.

So, what I might do instead of taking one frequently is to take two or three less frequently. What will happen is that it will get into your system at a high level and then it will help extinguish the inflammation and then it will take time for the inflammation to come back.

Turmeric powder in wooden spoon on old wooden table.
Click here for a Mayo Clinic article on turmeric.

Now I don’t know how that’s going to work in you, but that’s my suggestion. I can say this because it’s not a medicine, OK? So, I’m not giving him advice about medicines, I’m giving advice about a supplement and really a spice. Turmeric is a spice. My recommendation is that if it’s helping a little and you’re doing one frequently, try taking two or three less frequently and see if that helps you. Now, this may be a placebo effect.

Fred: I was very skeptical of it when I heard you say it…

Dr. Frank Wefald: Oh, I was extremely skeptical but I took it and I’m up on my feet all day running around from patient to patient. I forget to take my Advil at 4:00 in the afternoon because I don’t need it. I don’t have the discomfort. Now, a lot of these…scientists will say “that’s a placebo effect”, you know. So what! It works, right? I mean, I don’t have pain.

So, whether it’s my brain telling me “you’re not going to have pain” or if the inflammation is saying “you’re not going to have pain”, it doesn’t matter. I don’t have pain.

Dave Alexander: Does anybody, I mean between you and Fred, do you know what turmeric tastes like? I mean, could we sprinkle it on stuff?

Dr. Frank Wefald: No, you take the capsule.

Dave Alexander: Take the capsule. Alright Fred.

Dr. Frank Wefald: So tell you what, here is what I want you to try is to take three every four hours.

Caller Fred: I’ll do that.

Dr. Frank Wefald: Or every six hours and call us back next week and let us know how my little experiment turned out.

Caller Fred: I’ll try. I don’t know what will be happening next Saturday.

Dave Alexander: Fred, you’re now a part of the longitudinal study on turmeric and ginger.

Dr. Frank Wefald: And also throw in some milk thistle.

Dave Alexander: Milk thistle.

Fred: I bought all of that just a few weeks ago.

Dr. Frank Wefald: Give it a hoot.

Fred: I was skeptical and I tried it for a few days and it went away, my pain went away. I stopped it and it came back. I did that three or four times.

Dr. Frank Wefald: So listen, that is actually, that’s a good study. Because, you know I had patients all the time say this medicine is making me sick. So what you do is you have an interrupted period. You say take it and then stop it and then take it again.

Fred: I’m glad I heard about the turmeric from you because I was taking too much ibuprofen.

Dr. Frank Wefald: That’s bad. Ulcers.

Fred: I stopped that altogether.

Dave Alexander: This is Heart Health on the Heart Health Radio Network. Let me just tell you that we’re not selling you capsules of turmeric, ginger and milk thistle.

Dr. Frank Wefald: Yeah, we’d go broke.

Fred has promised to call again and let us know how Dr. Wefald’s recommendations work. Remember to talk to your doctor before adjusting your medicines. Apparently turmeric, ginger and milk thistle are not really medicines. — Dave

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