Arthritis, a universal disease, affects over 28 million Americans alone. Starting with juvenile arthritis, and moving up to rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and osteoarthritis (OA), this chronic disease knows no age limit, no partiality to race or religion, and there is no way to stop it. While there are prescription drugs available to help slow degeneration or alleviate symptoms, there are a great many natural supplements available that can alleviate the symptoms of osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) as well as help to successfully treat the conditions. The following is guide for the origin of these supplements and the benefits they may offer to those who suffer from OA and RA.
Dietary supplements are derived from both plants and animals. To be classified as a dietary supplement, a product must be taken by mouth and contain a dietary ingredient, which is a substance that should be taken in addition to, and not instead of, consuming healthy foods. Dietary supplements include vitamins, minerals, botanicals, amino acids, and any extracts or concentrates from these substances.
Avocado Soybean Unsaponifiables (ASU) is a natural vegetable extract made from avocado and soybean oils. ASU is believed to slow the progression of OA by slowing the production of some inflammatory chemicals made by the body and thereby preventing the breakdown of cartilage.
Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) is a type of omega-6 fatty acid known to lessen joint pain, stiffness and swelling associated with RA and is found in the following supplements:
Black Currant Oil comes from the seeds of the black currant and contains 15 to 20 percent GLA.
Borage Oil comes from the seeds of the borage plant. Borage seed oil contains about 20 to 26 percent GLA.
Evening Primrose (also known as primrose) comes from the seeds of a Native American wildflower and contains 7 to 10 percent GLA. This supplement may take up to six months to become fully effective.
Boswellia and Indian Frankincense contain a gum resin from the bark of the Boswellia tree found in India. The best products contain 60 percent boswellic acids. These supplements are indicated to reduce inflammation and pain for RA and OA patients.
Bromelain (Pineapple, Ananas comosus) is a group of enzymes found in pineapple that breaks down protein. Evidence has shown that these enzymes have pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory effects comparable to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for both RA and OA patients.
Cat’s Claw (Uncaria tomentosa) is the dried root bark of a woody vine that grows in the Amazon rain forests in Peru and other South American countries. It is believed to have anti-inflammatory properties and may stimulate immune system. It is very important to note is that there is another plant, Acacia greggi, known as cat’s claw that is highly toxic. Be sure to check the label to make sure the supplement contains Uncaria tomentosa.
Chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine supplements have more positive effects in patients with OA rather than those with inflammatory diseases such as RA. Research in Europe has found that OA patients who took 1,500mg of glucosamine daily had the same level of pain relief as those who took drugs such as ibuprofen for pain. Glucosamine and chondroitin can begin to work for patients in as little as two weeks or can take up to two months to be fully effective. Chondroitin sulfate comes from bovine trachea or pork byproducts. Glucosamine is derived from chitin, which is a substance in crab, lobster or shrimp shells. Allergic reactions to shellfish are usually to proteins in the fish part of shellfish. Therefore, a reaction in a person allergic to shellfish is unlikely. High concentrations of glucosamine are contained in the joints and glucosamine is thought to stimulate the cartilage formation, which is necessary for joint repair. Chondroitin sulfate content is also within cartilage. It draws fluid into the tissue, making the cartilage resistant and elastic. Chondroitin sulfate encourages the formation of new cartilage and slows the breakdown of existing cartilage breakdown.
Curcumin and Turmeric come from a yellow-colored powder ground from the roots of the turmeric plant that grows in India and Indonesia. Curcumin is the active ingredient in turmeric. This supplement reduces pain, inflammation and stiffness related to RA and OA.
Devil’s Claw (Harpagophytum procumbens) is also known as Devil’s Claw Root, Grapple Plant or Wood Spider and is traditionally uses in South Africa. It is known to relieve pain and inflammation in joints.
DHEA (Dehydroepiandrosterone) is an androgen steroid hormone produced by the adrenal glands in the body. Natural DHEA levels have been found to be low in people with RA, and DHEA may help regulate the immune system and control inflammation.
Fish Oil comes from cold-water fish such as mackerel, salmon, herring, tuna, halibut and cod and is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. It reduces the inflammation and stiffness of RA and may inhibit RA development.
Flaxseed (Linum usitatissimum), also known as Flax and Linseed Oil, comes from the seed of the flax plant and contains omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids as well as lignans, which are plant compounds similar to fiber. Flaxseed treats symptoms of RA by lubricating joints, which lessens stiffness decreases joint pain.
Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is the dried or fresh root of the ginger plant and is known to decrease joint pain and reduce inflammation in people with OA and RA.
MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane) is an organic sulfur compound found in fruits, vegetables, grains, animals and humans. MSM reduces pain by acting as an analgesic at it lessens nerve impulses that transmit pain. It also reduces inflammation. Sulfur is also needed for the formation of connective tissue.
SAM-e (S-adenosyl-L-methionine) is a naturally occurring chemical in the body that is effective in treating symptoms of OA such as pain, stiffness and joint swelling. It also improves mobility and rebuilds cartilage.
Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica) comes from the leaves and stem of the stinging nettle plant, which is a stalk-like plant that is found in the U.S., Canada and Europe. Stinging Nettle reduces inflammation pain associated with OA.
Thunder God Vine (Tripterygium wilfordii) comes from the root of a vine-like plant from Asia and is known to reduce the pain and inflammation symptoms of RA and may suppress the immune system. It is important to note that the leaves and flowers of this plant are extremely toxic and can cause death, so preparation should only be made from the root.
Although these natural supplements can be very helpful in treating the symptoms of OA and RA, it is important to remember that plants, animals and humans produce chemicals that can have effects in the body just as manmade medications do. This means that supplements have the potential to interact with medications. Therefore, if you are taking any medications check with your healthcare provider regarding each supplement you consider trying.
Supplements can also have negative effects on certain physical conditions. Discuss the possibility of these effects with your healthcare provider before starting any supplemental therapies.
Source : Health News