Natural Supplements to Relieve Arthritis Pain
Arthritic pain is often constant, unremitting discomfort managed solely by non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDS) such as ibuprofen and Tylenol. However, long-term use of NSAIDS and other pharmaceutical pain medication can cause health complications. These complications include stomach inflammation, ulcers, and increased risk of heart disease. Rather than simply managing pain with medication, and risking long-term side effects, there are multiple natural supplements that reduce inflammation naturally. Below is a list of common, effective supplements that, when used regularly, can significantly diminish arthritic pain and inflammation.
Tumeric: Also known as Curmcuma longa, Tumeric is an herb typically used in Indian and Chinese cooking and is yellow in color. It contains the ingredient curcumin, which is a potent anti-oxidant as well as anti-inflammatory. When the rhizome, or rootstalk of the plant, is used, it displays anti-inflammatory benefits similar to that of NSAIDS without any of the side effects. This is the ‘go to’ herb for natural pain and inflammation relief, and it is even more effective when used in combination with other natural anti-inflammatories.
Bromelain: Extracted from the pineapple plant, Bromelain is a substance that enhances enzymatic activity in the body. It works by activating proteolytic enzymes (enzymes that break apart inflammatory molecules) at the localized site of inflammation, inhibiting activation of pro-inflammatory chemical messengers, and breaking down fibrous structures. Although you can obtain bromelain from eating pineapple, the required treatment dosages are typically higher than those found in foodstuffs.
Proteolytic Enzymes: Produced naturally in the human digestive system, Proteolytic enzymes break apart food bonds. When taken as a supplement on an empty stomach, they serve to break apart abnormal structures in the body. Proteolytic enzymes can be used to break apart inflammatory molecules, which in turn relieve pain from inflammation.
Fish Oil: Fish oil has anti-inflammatory properties that reduce cardiovascular inflammation, joint and skin inflammation, as well as inflammation from injuries. It has several mechanisms of action that create its powerful anti-inflammatory properties. The components of fish oil, EPA and DHA, can inhibit cyclooxygenase (COX), which provides relief from pain and inflammation in a similar manner to NSAIDS. It also suppresses several inflammatory mediators, reducing overall inflammation in certain conditions. In high doses, fish oil is exceptional for treating arthritic pain, and reducing whole body inflammation.
Vitamin C: Chemically known as ascorbic acid, Vitamin C is required for collagen formation in the joints. It helps protect muscles from damage during exercise, and reduces inflammation in joints. In addition to reducing inflammation, it protects the body from further damage and helps to repair damaged joints.
Glucosamine Sulfate: Although it does not have direct anti-inflammatory properties, glucosamine sulfate reduces inflammation by enhancing cartilage structure within degenerated joints. For arthritis caused by degeneration, glucosamine sulfate can help ‘rebuild’ the soft cartilage in between joints that wears down over time.
There are many aspects to relieving pain and inflammation naturally, such as dietary choices, body mechanics, sleep habits and hydration. However, even when organic supplements are used on their own, they can produce remarkable effects with little to no side effects. They should be taken in appropriate therapeutic doses, in optimal combinations, and taken at the right time of day to be most effective.
Dr. Shannon Sinsheimer is a licensed naturopathic doctor at Optimal Health Center in Palm Desert and can be reached at (760) 568-2598.