Natural Arthritis Therapies
Arthritis can make everyday tasks difficult. But there is relief. Instead of pounding painkillers, try one of these three natural alternatives
Arthritis can make everyday tasks difficult. But there is relief. Instead of pounding the painkillers, try one of these three natural alternatives.
For millions of osteoarthritis sufferers, the future looks like facing the rest of life with permanently increasing pain, ultimately with a slow slide into incapacity.
Arthritis literally means “joint inflammation,” but medically it also refers to a diverse assortment of more than 100 rheumatic diseases that cause pain, stiffness, and swelling in joints. Worse, it may also affect other parts of the body, primarily other sites of connective tissue. One form or another of the disease afflicts 50 million Americans, and it is the most prevalent cause of disability in people 65 and older.
Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of joint disease and it increases in prevalence with age. In OA, joint cartilage erodes. As we age, the water portion of cartilage increases while the protein composition degenerates, causing the cartilage to form tiny crevasses and cartilage surfaces fray and wear. Ultimately, disability comes from disease in the spine, knees and hips.
One of the main complaints of persons with arthritis is lost sleep, and sleep disruption overshadows makes pain worse, increasing discomfort. There is some good news, though. We now know arthritis can be arrested or reversed.
Inflammation is a hot topic these days. A natural process, it remains mysterious. Still, it’s the enemy of health practitioners, because, if not damped down, it can do a lot of long-term damage. This process, allowed to go on too long, generates large quantities of free radicals, which contribute to tissue damage. Inflamed tissue gets swollen, so circulation gets compromised, and fresh fluids are prevented from replacing toxic ones. That gen-
erates more inflammation, and the cycle continues. And when it goes on for months or years, it creates big problems, such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
GINGER ROOT is one of the best investments you can make in your health. This root is delicious, inexpensive and easily available, and it’s some pretty serious medicine. Ginger is a time-tested remedy for a range of joint conditions with broad anti-inflammatory actions. One recent study found that ginger was more effective than a standard NSAID for RA. Ditto for OA. Another study in the Journal of Holistic Nursing found that ginger created a marked relief of osteoarthritis symptoms that progressively improved over the 24 weeks, with no negative effects reported. Since ginger is a warming herb, it traditionally would have been used more for OA than for RA. You can find ginger in capsules or tea.
The benefits of the ALOE plant have been known to many great civilizations. One of its earliest advocates was the Greek physician Dioscorides. Aloe vera gel is popular in many parts of the world for treating pain. Applied topically or consumed orally, it has a stellar reputation for promoting tissue healing. Although mentioned by many authorities for arthritis pain, scientific evidence is sparse. One study in the British Journal of Community Nursing praises it as an anti-inflammatory agent, the use for which it is most well-known.
The BOSWELLIA ( Boswellia serrata, Salai guggul) tree, a close relative of frankincense and myrrh, exudes sticky gum from the bark of this Boswellia gum, in particular, has become well-known in North America over the last decade for its pronounced effects on joint disorders, the traditional Ayurvedic use.
This gum contains constituents, boswellic acids, which inhibit inflammation-producing substances called leukotrienes in the body. In fact, boswellia gum inhibits inflammation through several mechanisms. A 2013 study compared several herbal remedies, including Boswellia, to the popular supplement glucosamine and the arthritis drug, celecoxib, in knee arthritis, and the herbs reduced knee pain and improved knee function as well as the drug and glucosamine. Take 500 mg per day of Boswellia extract standardized to 30 percent boswellic acid.
One study looked at a combination of exceptional herbs. Forty-two patients with OA were randomly assigned to receive an herbal preparation, containing (per capsule) 450 mg of ashwaganda, 100 mg of Boswellia, 50 mg of turmeric, and 50 mg of a zinc complex, or a placebo, for three months. The dosage was two capsules three times per day, after meals. The
treatments were then crossed over. Compared with placebo, the herb combination significantly reduced the severity of pain and the disability score. AVOCADO SOYBEAN UNSA
PONIFIABLES (ASU), a natural vegetable extract made from one-third avocado oil and twothirds soybean oil, has been used for years in Europe, but is just starting to get traction here. The science shows that it slows the progression of OA by blocking pro-inflammatory chemicals, preventing deterioration of synovial cells lining the joints and regenerating normal connective tissue.
A 2003 study published in the Journal of Rheumatology reported ASU inhibited the breakdown of cartilage and promoted repair. A 2008 meta-analysis found that ASU improved symptoms of hip and knee OA and reduced or eliminated use of NSAID drugs. A large, three-year study published in 2013 in the BMJ showed that ASU significantly reduced progression of hip OA compared with placebo. ASU has a long history of safety. Take 300 mg daily.
By 2015, it became even clearer that ASU was useful in OA. A study out of the University of California found that, at the clinical level, ASU reduces pain and stiffness while improving joint function, confirming a decreased dependence on analgesics.
We now know that arthritis can be arrested or reversed. Fortunately, taming inflammation can help control it.