Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease, which means that the function or structure of the affected area worsens over time. There are over 100 types of arthritis but osteoarthritis is the most common, affecting around 1 in 11 Australians. It occurs when the protective cartilage that cushions the ends of the bones wears down, commonly in the hands, knees, hips, and spine.
Each person may experience osteoarthritis differently, but the most common symptoms include joint pain, stiffness, swelling, tenderness, and loss of flexibility. Over the counter medications such as anti-inflammatories and pain relievers can be taken orally or applied topically to assist with some of these symptoms. However, new research in the area has promising evidence to support more natural remedies.
Natural Remedies for Osteoarthritis Management
You may have heard that turmeric is good for inflammation, and you’d have heard correctly. Although, it is actually curcumin (one of the active ingredients in turmeric) that exerts these anti-inflammatory effects. As osteoarthritis can cause swelling, inflammation and pain, turmeric may be helpful in alleviating these symptoms. Multiple studies have now shown that the anti-inflammatory properties that curcumin extract gives is similar to that of non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) such as Ibuprofen.
A 2021 review of the current research in this area concluded that there is a benefit of turmeric supplementation on knee pain and function caused by osteoarthritis, similar to that of NSAIDs. It may also be beneficial for other forms of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis. Optimal dosing and frequency of supplementation is still unclear, however this is promising evidence and definitely worth a try for sufferers of this disease.
Note: We recommend speaking to a health professional prior to supplementing with turmeric as it may interact with some prescription medications.
2. Glucosamine and Chondroitin
Glucosamine is a natural compound produced in the body and found in healthy cartilage (the tough tissue that cushions our joints). This is the same tissue that degenerates in people suffering with osteoarthritis. Chondroitin is another major component of cartilage and other connective tissues. You can by these as supplements separately, however they are often sold combined as a single supplement.
Glucosamine and chondroitin protect cells called chondrocytes, that help maintain cartilage structure. In theory, these compounds could slow the degeneration of cartilage. A recent study looking at the effectiveness of these ingredients together found that glucosamine improved the stiffness of joints, and chondroitin helped relieve pain and improved physical function as effectively as prescription NSAIDs.
Note: We recommend speaking to a health professional prior to supplementing with glucosamine or chondroitin as it may interact with some medications.
Everyone knows that ginger is helpful for bouts of nausea, but did you know it can also aid in combatting inflammation? Ginger has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and some analgesic properties. A study in 2015 showed that taking therapeutic doses of ginger reduced pain and disability from osteoarthritis with no serious adverse reactions. This is great news, as NSAIDs that are commonly used for managing osteoarthritis, can have serious side effects when taken long term.
Another study found that ginger supplementation reduced pain and stiffness in the knee by over 40 percent! Whilst ginger can be used in cooking, as a tea, in oil form and in tinctures, research shows that capsulated forms are superior to gain the benefits.
Note: We recommend speaking to a health professional prior to supplementing with ginger as it may interact with some prescription medications.
This supplement may be less known than the others mentioned, but it is definitely one to keep in mind. SAMe (or S-adenosyl-methionine) is a natural compound produced in the body that has anti-inflammatory, cartilage-protecting and pain relieving effects. In recent studies it was as effective as NSAIDs in reducing osteoarthritic pain and could potentially postpone degenerative changes in cartilage.
SAMe has another benefit too, it has a mild to moderate antidepressant effect by increasing a chemical called serotonin that is a natural mood stabiliser. Low mood is often experienced in those who suffer from chronic pain, such as that caused by osteoarthritis. Therefore, SAMe may help with multiple symptoms that are a result of osteoarthritis.
Is it possible to prevent osteoarthritis from occurring?
Whilst there is no way to completely prevent osteoarthritis, there are lifestyle and dietary changes that can reduce your risk. For some people though, genetics can play a large role in the progression of the disease.
The best defence against osteoarthritis is a healthy lifestyle. Regular exercise, managing stress, quality sleep and a healthy diet are key factors to reduce your risk. Including large amounts of fruits and vegetables to gain the benefits of antioxidants, and reducing the amount of pro-inflammatory foods high in saturated fat and sugar is important to reduce systemic inflammation.
Herbs of Gold One-a-day Glucosamine Max (with Chondroitin, Ginger and MSM)
Bioceuticals UltraClean 85 Fish Oil capsules
Oriental Botanicals Turmeric Excel capsules
Come and see our staff in store for more information and to see whether these supplements are right for you.