If like millions of Americans you are suffering from arthritis pain, swelling, and stiffness in the joints, you might feel like talking to your doctor about your symptoms is somewhat like singing to a deaf person.
With Arthritis being the leading cause of disability in the United States, more than 50 million adults and 300,000 children suffering from some type of arthritis and over 100 different types of arthritis existing today.
Modern medicine has failed to find a cure as of yet. The internet is filled with scary warnings about prescribed medications, which, at best, provide minor relief of the symptoms but do nothing to address the core of the issue.
Severe arthritis can lead to chronic pain, making it difficult to walk and perform daily activities. It severely hinders the quality of life, leaving you unable to do the things you love to do.
Fortunately, Mother Nature gifts us with natural sources like plants and food items which have been used for hundreds and thousands of years in traditional Ayurvedic and alternative medicine. They not only help you with your arthritis symptoms but also address the root of the disease, which is inflammation in the body.
For over 3000 years, turmeric/curcumin has been used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat arthritis. It originated in India, and nowadays many of its benefits are supported by evidence from randomized controlled trials — the gold standard of research. It works by blocking inflammatory cytokines and enzymes and preventing inflammation.
Obesity is a contributing factor in increasing the risk of developing osteoarthritis. Fatty tissue in the joints is a source of pro-inflammatory chemicals that have been shown to increase cartilage degradation. Curcumin may not only help the release of these inflammatory chemicals, but it may also help delay the development of the fatty tissue.
The most comprehensive and ambitious study to test the long-term efficacy and safety of curcumin, where 100 OA patients were investigated for eight months, showed that patients who took curcumin showed a far greater improvement in their symptoms than the control group and curcumin was tolerated extremely well.
The patients were able to decrease their drug use with all the accompanying side effects of those drugs. In another study, a group of OA patients was given curcumin while a control group was given ibuprofen. The study showed that curcumin worked as well or better than ibuprofen.
Studies typically use doses of 500–2,000 mg of turmeric per day. It is more effective as an extract with a curcumin concentration that is much higher than the amounts naturally occurring in foods.
Frankincense, or boswellia, was used in many ancient civilizations for many ailments and its abundant benefits include reducing inflammation and helping treat arthritis. It can inhibit the production of key inflammatory molecules and prevent the breakdown of the cartilage tissue.
The Cardiff scientists believe they have been able to demonstrate that in their research. Using an extract of Boswellia frereana -- a rare frankincense species -- they demonstrated that it inhibits the production of key inflammatory molecules, helping to prevent the breakdown of the cartilage tissue which leads to arthritis.
Resin made from boswellia extract has been used for centuries in Asian and African folk medicine. It’s believed to treat chronic inflammatory illnesses as well as a number of other health conditions. Boswellia is available as a resin or in capsules.
The dosage suggested by The Arthritis Foundation is 300–400 mg three times per day of a product that contains 60 percent boswellic acids.
MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane)MSM is an organosulfur compound, which is derived from dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO), an organic sulfur compound. It helps form connective tissue and repair joints, tendons and ligaments. It is proven to help decrease joint inflammation and restore collagen production, thereby improving flexibility.
Research shows that many patients with arthritis and joint pain experience a reduction in symptoms and improved quality of life when taking an MSM supplement. A clinical trial testing the effects of MSM on joint pain in 118 patients with osteoarthritis found that MSM supplements taken over 12 weeks resulted in improvements in pain, swelling and joint mobility.
MSM is available as tablets, liquid, capsule, or powder. It can be applied topically or taken orally. The typical dosage is 1,000 mg to 3,000 mg daily with meals.
Ginger has been used for thousands of years for medicinal purposes. Ginger contains Gingerol, a substance with powerful medicinal properties, and it has anti-inflammatory properties similar to ibuprofen.
In a 2012 study, a specialized ginger extract reduced inflammation in Rheumatoid Arthritis as effectively as steroids. Due to the fact that ginger suppresses leukotrienes (inflammatory molecules) and can switch off certain inflammatory genes, it can be said that this powerful food and supplement is more effective than conventional pain relievers.
Ginger is available as a powder, extract, tincture, capsules and oils. The recommended dosage is up to 2 g in three divided doses per day. You may also drink up to 4 cups of ginger tea daily.
Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA)
GLA is an omega-6 fatty acid found in various plant seed oils such as borage oil. The body converts it into anti-inflammatory chemicals. In one trial, 56 patients with active RA showed significant improvement in joint pain, stiffness and grip strength after six months and progressive improvement in control of disease activity at one year. A smaller study found that a combination of GLA and fish oil significantly reduced the need for conventional pain relievers.
GLA works best when taken orally. It’s available as capsules or oil. The recommended dosage is 2-3 g a day in divided doses.
L-leucine is an essential amino acid that has been widely used by pro athletes for its ability to prevent muscle breakdown and support recovery. Studies have found amino acids supplementation for inflammation to be highly effective.
And when it comes to pain management, the body has it own analgesic system, with the three primary pain modulators being the neurotransmitters endorphin, serotonin, and GABA (gamma amino butyric acid). Amino acids produce these powerful pain fighters. Simply put, amino acids fuel the entire natural pain relief system of the human body.
Amino acids are found in high protein foods, which is why it’s important to have a healthy high-protein diet. They can also be given in the form of quick-acting, free-form supplements. In many cases, you can see significant improvement in joint pain within a few days of taking L-Leucine. All amino acids are classified by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as dietary supplements, and individual amino acids are commercially available as tablets, capsules, powders. However, the recommended dosages on the bottles often are too low to be effective.
L-leucine should be taken on an empty stomach, before meals. The estimated average requirement of branched-chain amino acids is 68 mg/kg/day (leucine 34 mg, isoleucine 15 mg, valine 19 mg) for adults. However, some researchers think earlier testing methods may have underestimated this requirement and the requirement is about 144 mg/kg/day, with 68 mg being from leucine.
Bamboo Stem Extract
Taken from Bamboo shoots (sprouts which spring out beside the bamboo plant). They have powerful anti-inflammatory properties. In Japan, they are considered the “King of Forest Vegetables”.
According to research conducted by Muniappan and Sundararaj, bamboo shoots possess anti-inflammatory and analgesic (pain-killing) properties. Bamboo extract powder contains a high concentration of the plant’s beneficial compounds, including antioxidants and silica. Take up to 600 mg (heaping 1/4 tsp) daily with plenty of water
Hyaluronic acid, also known as hyaluronan, is a clear, gooey substance that is naturally produced by your body. It helps keep the joints lubricated, preventing the bones from rubbing against each other and causing pain.
Hyaluronic acid supplements have been shown to be effective at reducing joint pain. Studies showed that taking 80–200 mg daily for at least two months significantly reduced knee pain in people with osteoarthritis.
Mumiyo or Shilajit
Found inside the cracks of rocks in the high cliffs of the Himalayan mountains, Mumiyo has been used for centuries to support joint, muscle, and bone health. It contains more than 85 important minerals including Magnesium, Iron, and Zinc.
The combination of organic trace minerals, humic and fulvic acids, amino acids, carbon-60, plant-based antioxidants, and many other beneficial acids sets it apart from any other trace minerals. It can help fortify bones and joints, as well as build resilience against inflammation.
Taking it together with turmeric and ginger strengthens the anti-inflammatory effects even further. In addition, Shilajit works as an energizer and a natural recovery solution after a workout.
The optimal dosage is individual and depends on a variety of factors, such as your body weight, diet, general health, and benefits sought, but generally you can’t go wrong with about 300mg a day.
Research shows that people with low levels of vitamin D may have more joint pain. Vitamin D is crucial for bone and joint health, and it helps regulate the calcium in the body.
When taken as a supplement, vitamin D3 is preferable as it is a natural form of vitamin D that lasts longer in your body. There is no recommended dosage, since it depends on your amount of sun exposure and health condition. However, 1000 IU per day is generally considered safe for adults.
Willow bark extract has been used for thousands of years as an anti-inflammatory, antipyretic, and analgesic. Willow bark is the bark from several varieties of the willow tree. Clinical studies support the use of willow bark extracts for chronic lower back and joint pain.
The salicin in willow bark works the same way as aspirin, by reducing inflammation and pain as it enters your bloodstream. Willow bark has been used for analgesia at daily doses of 1 to 3 g of bark, corresponding to salicin 60 to 120 mg.
Derived from the Amazon rainforests in South and Central America, the cat’s claw is dried root bark of a woody vine. It has strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. In a clinical trial, where 40 participants were given Cat’s Claw supplements, 53% reported a significant reduction in painful joints after 24 weeks.
Significant beneficial effects on all clinical aspects were observed in participants who were given cat’s claw for an additional 28 weeks. Cat’s Claw is available as capsules, tablets, liquid, and tea bags. Consulting a practitioner who is trained in the use of herbal/health supplements to determine the right dosage for you or use it as directed on the package.
Tips for Choosing a Supplement
Many supplements out there contain the same generic formulas with low-quality ingredients, fillers, and GMOs. If you want your product to be effective in helping you stay healthy and active, follow this list of quick tips:
- Know what’s inside your supplement (research the ingredients contained within, their side effects, as well as where they are sourced and manufactured).
- Stay away from fillers such as corn, wheat, and soy.
- Look for products that are doctor formulated
- Choose a product that has been clinically tested
- Manufactured in the United States in a GMP certified facility.
Everyone is different, and the efficacy of supplements may vary according to your state of health, weight, lifestyle choices, and other factors. Knowing what’s inside your supplement, where it comes from, how it is made, and the clinical testing that it underwent are crucial to choosing a potent and effective product.
Lastly, the results of even the most effective products will be minimal if you continue to damage your body with harmful foods, excessive drinking, and other poor choices.
To get the most of your joint support supplement, enjoy a healthy, well-rounded plant-rich and protein-rich diet. Stretch, walk plenty, and get proper rest. I wish you success on your journey to a more active and joyous life.