In my previous arthritis post, I mentioned strategies like losing weight, drinking water to keep joints hydrated, an anti-inflammatory diet and exercise. Let’s look at some herbs and supplements that hold promise in reducing the pain and/or inflammation of arthritis.
Points to Ponder
🤔 Be aware that herbs and supplements are not regulated.
🤔 Many also have limited studies. The belief is it they won’t spend money on studies for something that is not profitable. Note* that does not mean it doesn’t work, it just means no one wants to pay to prove it.
🤔 Not all supplements are good quality. Do your research. Use reputable companies that are selling what they say they are, not a cheap version full of fillers. Supplements vary in purity, quality, and strength for company to company.
🤔 For some newer supplements the long term effects are not yet known. Therefore, they are not recommended. It is wiser to use these short term or rotate them with other products.
🤔 Do your research for any interactions with medications you are currently taking and to avoid possible toxic levels. I would say ask your doctor, but chances are they won’t know because many are not familiar with supplements. Some do, but it has not been my experience. Make sure your current medications will not interact with the supplement. Some raise/lower blood pressure, some lower blood sugar, these are things your doctor will need to know especially if you are being treated for these issues.
🤔 Unless it is proven, take it with a “grain of salt”. However, just because it’s not proven doesn’t mean it doesn’t work. Everyone is different. We have arthritis for different reasons. Try different remedies until you find what works for you.
🤔 You’ll notice most trials and studies focus on the knee. That is the most common joint to suffer from arthritis. That doesn’t mean it won’t work for other joints.
🤔 Give it time to work. You should try it for 8-12 weeks before you determine whether a supplement works or not. This is a trial and error process. What works/didn’t work for your uncle, neighbor or friend may not necessarily be the thing that works or doesn’t work for you.
Below is a list of the most recommended herbs and supplements for arthritis.
Glucosamine– 1500 mg/day. (500 3x/day) Try 8-12 weeks May slow the progression osteoarthritis. Provides building blocks to support the growth, repair and maintenance of cartilage.
Chondroitin 1200 mg/day (400 3x/day) 8-12 weeks. Found naturally in cartilage. It is believed to protect cartilage from enzymes that destroy cartilage.
Both glucosamine and chondroitin occur naturally in cartilage. Studies are mixed regarding their effectiveness. Studies show better results when glucosamine and chondroitin are used together rather than separately. It appears to work better for mild osteoarthritis than severe.
Cat’s claw– 500-1000 mg 3x/day (do not use if you are on blood thinners) Cat’s Claw relieves knee pain related to physical activity, but not during resting. It further reduces pain in rheumatoid arthritis when taken with conventional medicines.
Devil’s claw– Helps decrease pain and inflammation in back and neck pain, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and tendonitis. A study showed at 4 months devil’s claw was as effective as a European osteoarthritis drug and an anti-inflammatory drug , also reducing the need for back up medication. 600-1200 mg of dried root 3x /per day. Overuse may cause stomach irritation so don’t use if you have an ulcer. It also may reduce blood sugar, effect blood pressure or cause abnormal heart rhythm. It is believed that taken for a short time Devil’s Claw is safe with few side effects. It is not recommended for long term use because the effects are not yet known. One study found 50% of people taking Devil’s claw for 8 weeks had less pain and better mobility.
Ginger– pain relieving and anti-inflammatory properties. 2g/day in divided doses.
Fish oil– Omega 3s from fish oil decrease the inflammation in the body. Resulted in a reduced need for NSAIDS in rheumatoid arthritis patients. Take 2 grams for rheumatoid arthritis, 1 gram for osteoarthritis. Also helpful with psoriatic arthritis. The amount is based on adding the mg of EPA + DHA. Other oils listed are inconsequential. Choose a brand that is purified and 3rd party tested and certified free from mercury and other contaminants. The last thing you want to do is load mercury into your body.
SAM-e -Stimulates production of chondrocytes and proteoglycans which one study showed it helped rebuild cartilage. 80% of participants reported pain relief. Use 600-1200mg/ day in 3 doses. 600 2x/day is the most common. As effective as anti-inflammatory pain killers (ibuprofen) with less side effects. May interact with your medicines. SAM-e works slower than ibuprofen. Give up to 30 days to notice effects. Shown as effective as Celebrex after 2 months of use. May interact with other medications or conditions. May affect blood sugar or blood pressure. Works in conjunction with B-vitamins. Make sure you get adequate amounts.
MSM– An important source of sulfur required for the synthesis of cartilage. Also found in some foods such as green vegetables, garlic, onions and fruits. There is some reduction in pain/swelling but it may not affect stiffness.
Resveratrol– May interrupt the inflammatory cascade that degrades cartilage.
Turmeric (curcumin)– Show helpful in rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and psoriatic arthritis. One of the most effective anti-inflammatories. Turmeric helps reduce the inflammation from various sources that lead to joint damage. One study showed it to be more effective than an arthritis drug without the side effects. It has also been shown to be an effective natural painkiller, with greater patient satisfaction compared to ibuprofen in a recent study. No known risks unless taken in very excessive amounts. Use a 95% standardized extract. It should be taken with black pepper (bioperine) to increase bioavailability. Take 500 1-3x/day.
Vitamin D– Lower levels of D3 have been found in osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis patients. Low levels may cause more severe pain, especially in RA. Get your levels checked. 70-80 is optimal. Protects against progressive hip osteoarthritis.
Bromalain– pineapple family- An enzyme w/ anti-inflammatory effects. Suppresses inflammation and pain in rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. 400mg 1-3x/day. Don’t use with prescription blood thinners.
Type II collagen-This collagen is derived from chicken sternum cartilage, in undenatured form. Promotes joint health, mobility and flexibility. A study of women taking 10 mg of undenatured collagen on an empty stomach produced a significant reduction in joint pain symptoms with no side effects. Another study of healthy patients using 40 mg for 120 days who had joint discomfort with physical activity but not at rest, showed significant improvement.
Boswellia Serrate (Indian frankincense) Has anti-inflammatory and pain relieving properties. May help prevent cartilage loss. In a 2008 study osteoarthritis pain was significantly improved in as little as seven days for some. It also slowed cartilage damage after 3 months. 300-400 mg/3x day. 60% boswellic acids. Safe and effective for both OA and RA.
Try a supplement and see if it works for you. Please research it first. If you are on medications or have medical conditions, speak to your doctor.
I have tried turmeric/curcumin as well as devil’s claw and have had some good results. I keep my D3 levels up. I take fish oil, and I can feel a difference when I run out of it. I will be trying others supplements as well to see which gives the best results for me.
Have your tried any of these supplements?
Are there others you would recommend?
Which ones worked for you?
Share your positive or negative experience.
“Know therefore that God exacts from you less than your iniquity deserves.” Job 11:6