Try natural remedies to ease the pain
Sherry Xie, PhD
Are there any natural or herbal ingredients that can help you with joint problems, such as joint stiffness, pain, and inflammation? How do you choose dietary supplements that are right for you?
Osteoarthritis (OA) is associated with old age and causes pain, tenderness, and limitation of movement in joints. With increasing life expectancy in the world’s population, OA is expected to become the fourth leading cause of disability by the year 2020. It is estimated that 9.6 percent of men and 18 percent of women over 60 years of age have symptomatic OA. OA is a progressive degenerative joint disease involving the erosion of articular cartilage, inflammation of the synovial membrane (layer of connective tissue that lines the cavities of joints), and resorption of the underlying subchondral bone (the layer of bone just below the cartilage in a joint). Dietary supplements offer alternative treatments for degenerative joint diseases. According to scientific studies, some natural ingredients and dietary supplements may play an important role in preventing and/or treating joint inflammation.
Glucosamine and chondroitin act as building blocks for healthy cartilage and connective tissue, and are important for the formation of the joint matrix structure. The combination of glucosamine and chondroitin has shown comparable efficacy to celecoxib, a prescription nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, in reducing pain, stiffness, functional limitation, and joint swelling/effusion in patients with OA of the knee.
Used in Europe for the treatment of rheumatic entities for many years, its most therapeutically important compounds are harpagoside, harpagide, and procumbide. Devil’s claw extract has been shown to be an effective treatment for OA because of its pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory functions.
Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) is a naturally occurring sulphur compound found in many green plants, fruits, and vegetables, as well as in human adrenal glands. A study involving patients with OA of the knee who took MSM for 12 weeks showed improvement in pain and physical function.
Sufficient data demonstrate the anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic potential of green tea and its constituent epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). Anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic effects studied both in vitro and in animal models indicate that EGCG can regulate the expression of inflammatory cytokines, chemokines, and others in cell types relevant to the pathogenesis of OA.
Used for spice, colour, and flavour in food, turmeric’s main constituent, curcumin, has been studied extensively for its antitumour, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic properties. Clinical studies have shown a positive effect of curcumin in reducing pain and improving physical function and quality of life for osteoarthritic patients through its anti-inflammatory and cartilage-protective qualities.