Over four million Canadians suffer with the debilitating symptoms of arthritis–pain and inflammation. Arthritis encompasses over 100 forms of inflammatory disorders with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis the most common.
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition caused by wear and tear of the connective tissue and cartilage that cushions the joint. It typically occurs later in life and affects the hips, knees, hands, and spine–leading to pain, swelling, and stiffness.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that can appear suddenly at any age, and may fluctuate in severity. The immune system produces antibodies that cause damage to the joints leading to redness, pain, inflammation, and deformation.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are commonly prescribed to dampen the pain and inflammation of arthritis, yet their popularity is waning as many serious and life-threatening side effects have emerged, such as stomach ulcers and bleeding, increased gut permeability, water retention, and kidney damage.
Recently, one class of NSAIDS (COX-2 inhibitors) has been linked to increased risk of heart attacks. It is not surprising, then, that many are turning to natural approaches to manage arthritis.
Cetylated Fatty Acids
Cetylated fatty acids (CFA), a natural component of the fat of whales, beavers, and bovines, work to reduce inflammation, lubricate joints, and promote healing in rheumatoid and osteoarthritis sufferers. In a study of 64 individuals with knee osteoarthritis reported in the Journal of Rheumatology (2002), the use of CFA was found to reduce pain and swelling and improve flexibility and range of motion compared to the placebo. The recommended dosage of CFA formulated into tablets and capsules is 1,500 mg daily. Creme is applied twice daily.
Essential Fatty Acids
Both the omega-3s (fish oil) and omega-6s (borage, primrose oil) have been found to help reduce the pain and inflammation associated with arthritis. These “good” fats work in part by boosting levels of prostaglandins–hormone-like substances that have anti-inflammatory activity. Usual dosage of these oils is between two and four grams daily.
Glucosamine is a nutrient used by the body in the production of cartilage. It stimulates the production of new cartilage, blocks enzymes that break down connective tissue, and reduces pain and inflammation. Glucosamine has been studied extensively for osteoarthritis and found to be comparable to NSAIDs, yet better tolerated. The recommended dosage is 1,500 mg daily.
SAMe is a nutrient produced in the body that is vital to the health and development of tissues and organs. In the joint, SAMe is involved in cartilage formation and repair. Supplementing with SAMe has been found, in numerous studies, to reduce the pain and inflammation of osteoarthritis and to stimulate cartilage formation.
Recently, the US government Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality conducted a review of 10 studies on SAMe for osteoarthritis and found it equally effective as, but without the adverse effects associated with, NSAIDS. The recommended dosage range is 400 to 1,200 mg of natural (Isoactive) SAMe daily.
Move your joints down to the local health food store and arm yourself with some of these natural remedies to avoid being stiffed!