Do your joints hurt when you move? Then you must move… but there’s a catch. You must move slowly.
Of all the nonprescription drug interventions used to help arthritis, gentle, slow movement of the tai chi and yoga variety seem to get people the best results.
In the largest-ever study using tai chi to help arthritis, conducted by the Arthritis Foundation in 2010, researchers found that “participants showed improvement in pain, fatigue, stiffness, and sense of well-being.”
See if you can find a class close to you. It could make a big difference in your quality of life.
Sticking to It
Acupuncture is another treatment that many arthritis sufferers swear by. Scientific evidence supporting it is slowly building up in the western world too, as acupuncture seems to stimulate the body to release its own pain-relieving opiates.
In a 2010 Mayo Clinic survey, 54% of rheumatologists said they would recommend acupuncture as an adjunct treatment. So your doctor will likely support the use of acupuncture in addition to your main treatment. Go ahead, check with your doctor and find an acupuncturist near you.
Hard to Digest?
According to Ayurveda, the ancient Indian system of medicine, arthritis is caused by the build-up of “ama,” or toxins, in the joints. According to Ayurvedic doctors, having an impaired or less-than-satisfactory digestive situation can result in an accumulation of “toxins” in the joints after years. The modern day scientific explanation of gout, a painful joint disorder in the arthritis family, is that it is caused by the “accumulation of uric acid crystals” that the body is unable to efficiently remove from the body through excretion. Could this hold the key to being pain-free? Either way, the Ayurvedic suggestions on this are quite simple and harmless to try:
- Drink a large glass of hot water with the juice of one lemon (with sugar, honey or sea salt) as necessary daily, morning and night. This helps to cleanse toxins from the system.
- Mix 1 part honey to 2 parts lukewarm water and add 1 teaspoon of cinnamon powder. Make a paste and massage slowly onto the pain area of the body. It has been found that the pain can recede within a minute or two. If you have any open cuts or wounds, do not use this home remedy on those areas.
- Losing weight can help take some burden off the joints.
- Try to maintain a good sleep cycle. Staying up late at night and sleeping during the day are to be avoided, according to Ayurveda.
Supplements For Arthritis to The Rescue
As always, there are nutritional solutions that seem to work for many people that you could try too.
This is a naturally occurring substance that’s found in the fluid around our joints. It helps to build the tough rubbery padding between our bones and joints, called cartilage. In osteoarthritis, this padding is worn down, and the pain that we feel is often because of bones grating against each other with no cushioning in between. Glucosamine helps lubricate our joints and get the cartilage to retain water. It is often combined with chondroitin for maximum effect. Do note, it may take a few weeks to see the full effect of this supplement.
- What seems to work for many: 1,500 mg per day
Again, a substance that occurs naturally in the connective tissues of human beings and animal and helps lubricate joints. One of the largest studies ever done on osteoarthritis showed a significant reduction in pain when people took chondroitin along with glucosamine sulfate.
- What seems to work for many: 800–1,200 mg in 2–4 doses
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Inflammation is a key root cause for the pain that rheumatoid arthritis patients feel. And omega-3 fatty acids work because they lower inflammation in the body. If you choose a fish oil supplement as your omega-3, make sure it is pharmaceutical grade fish oil, pure and free of mercury and other toxins. Do also check that the supplement has at least 30% EPA and DHA compared to other omega fatty acids.
- What seems to work for many: up to 5.2 g day, in two equal doses
Turmeric Or Curcumin
The turmeric root is found in every Indian kitchen and medicine cabinet. Turmeric’s anti-inflammatory properties make it a potent ally in reducing the swelling and pain that is characteristic of rheumatoid arthritis. Please note that if you are on blood-thinning medication, turmeric may increase the effectiveness of this medicine, making it difficult for your blood to clot. So do consult your doctor before you add turmeric extract. The powdered form has a woody flavor that many may not enjoy, so we give our thumbs up to the extract in a capsule version.
- What seems to work for many: 400–600 mg 3 times a day, for osteoarthritis; 500 mg twice a day for rheumatoid arthritis
Unusual sounding, but SAM-e (pronounced sammy), is a chemical that is found naturally in the body. One of the best supplements for arthritis, SAM-e works by killing pain as well by building cartilage, the tissue at the end of the bone in a joint that acts as a cushion during movement. As an analgesic and an anti-inflammatory, this supplement has several studies to back its effectiveness. SAM-e works well in a team with vitamin B6 and B12, so make sure you get these too when taking SAM-e.
- What seems to work for many: 600–1,200 mg per day.
Another spice root from the Indian kitchen cabinet, studies have shown that some day it can become a substitute to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). An effective analgesic, ginger is said to reduce inflammation at the cellular level. While it is soothing to sip a ginger tea, this root is most effective in a capsule form.
- What seems to work for many: 225 mg per day
This is a vine from the Amazon rainforest with a unique shape that gives it its name. It has been used for centuries by South Americans to treat arthritis pains. Studies have shown it also protects the cartilage at our joints—the hard tissue that buffers movement of bones against each other.
- What seems to work for many: 250–350 mg per day
Avocado-Soybean Unsaponifiables (ASUs)
ASU is an extract made from the oils of avocado and soybean plants. It has been demonstrated to bring down pain and swelling in joints. It would take a large and expensive quantity of avocados to get the benefits of the oil from the fruit itself. That is why ASUs work as a convenient form of supplement for arthritis.
- What seems to work for many: 300–600 mg per day
Also known as Indian Frankincense, Boswellia is an ancient Ayurvedic herb revered for its anti-inflammatory and pain relief properties. When arthritis patients use NSAIDs over the long term, they develop stomach acid issues. However, Boswellia achieves the anti-inflammatory action through a different mechanism, making it a very sought after and studied herb these days.
- What seems to work for many: 600 mg per day
Rounding up the list of best supplements for arthritis is this extract from the stem and juice of the humble pineapple. This plant-derived supplement is considered a much safer alternative to prescription drugs and seems to give many people relief from arthritic pains.
- What seems to work for many: 500–2,000 mg twice a day.
Movement is life. Use these supplements from nature’s medicine cabinet wisely to restore yours. Keep moving, stay fit, and stay young!