Best supplements for arthritis: Three ‘natural’ supplements proven to ease joint pain
Arthritis is an umbrella term for a range of conditions that cause pain and inflammation in a joint.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and osteoarthritis (OA) are the two most common forms of arthritis, and, while they bear similar symptoms, they are distinguishable by their cause.
RA is an autoimmune condition, meaning the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks normal cells, and osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint condition, which means it is caused by mechanical wear and tear on joints.
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Both conditions cause pain, swelling and stiffness in the affected joints that can greatly impact your overall quality of life.
While the arthritis cannot be prevented, there are a number of lifestyle measures you can take to alleviate the symptoms associated.
If you are looking to try some alternative therapies, a growing body of evidence suggests natural supplements may help to ease arthritis pain.
Here are three supplements:
Glucosamine is a natural component of cartilage, a substance that prevents bones from rubbing against each other and causing pain and inflammation.
There are two types of glucosamine found in supplements: glucosamine hydrochloride and glucosamine sulfate.
While glucosamine hydrochloride hasn’t been found to provide much relief for joint pain caused by osteoarthritis, one study found that glucosamine sulfate does improve these symptoms.
To reap the benefits, you may need to take glucosamine sulfate over a long period of time, however.
Studies suggest that it slows down the narrowing of the joint space, a marker of the condition getting worse, when taken for up to three years.
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Like glucosamine, chondroitin is a building block of cartilage. Studies suggest it may also help prevent cartilage breakdown from osteoarthritis.
In fact, numerous studies have found that chondroitin can reduce joint pain and stiffness in people with osteoarthritis.
A systematic review of the evidence available found that 53 percent of people who take chondroitin have a 20 percent or greater improvement in knee pain.
Long-term supplementation may also slow down the progression of osteoarthritis.
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Studies show that it slows down the narrowing of the joint space when taken for up to two years.
Boswellia, also known as Indian frankincense, is commonly used for pain caused by arthritis.
According to the Arthritis Foundation, the active components found have anti-inflammatory and analgesic (pain-relieving) properties.
Clinical studies have also shown that boswellia extracts improve pain symptoms more than a placebo in people with osteoarthritis.
It also may help prevent cartilage loss and inhibit the autoimmune process – offering protection against rheumatoid arthritis.
Other ways to ease your arthritis
While there is strong evidence to suggest that specific dietary changes can improve arthritis, some people with rheumatoid arthritis feel their symptoms get worse after they have eaten certain foods, according to the NHS.
“If you think this may be the case for you, it may be useful to try avoiding problematic foods for a few weeks to see if your symptoms improve,” says the health site.
It adds: But it’s important to ensure your overall diet is still healthy and balanced.”
A Mediterranean-style diet, which is based on vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, beans, cereals, grains, fish and unsaturated fats such as olive oil, is a great way to get all the nutrients you need.
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