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Supplements for Arthritis

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Food supplements are not just a way of stocking up on nutrition – but can help fight disease too. Research has shown that some food supplements can help with arthritis, although the effects are fairly specific to the type of arthritis you have. But until recently, “most of the scientific world was against most supplements,” says Gladys Block, PhD, professor emerita of public health nutrition at the University of California, Berkeley. But thankfully, attitudes have changed in the past 15 years and are no longer ignored by researchers as more natural medicines are being put to the test in well-designed clinical trials. Here are a few recommended supplements for osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) based on findings from the best of those studies.

Turmeric/curcumin (Curcuma longa)

An ingredient in many curries and often used in ayurvedic medicine, turmeric is the root of a plant in the ginger family. Curcumin is a key chemical in turmeric.

How it works: Curcumin blocks inflammatory cytokines and enzymes, including cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), the target of celecoxib.

Research: A 2010 clinical trial found that a turmeric supplement called Meriva (standardized to 75 percent curcumin combined with phosphatidylcholine) provided long-term improvement in pain and function in 100 patients with knee OA. In a small 2012 pilot study, a curcumin product called BCM-95 reduced joint pain and swelling in patients with active RA better than diclofenac sodium did.

Recommended Dosage: Extract, which is more likely to be free of contaminants, or capsule: 500 mg two to four times daily for OA; 500 mg twice daily for RA. “Curcumin makes up only about 2 to 6 percent of turmeric, so be sure to check the standardized amount of curcumin,” says Randy Horwitz, MD, medical director of the University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine in Tucson.

Capsaicin (Capsicum frutescens)

Capsaicin is the active, heat-producing component in chili peppers.

How it works: Applied as a topical cream, gel or patch, capsaicin temporarily reduces substance P, a pain transmitter. Studies show that capsaicin may help reduce pain in RA and improve grip strength in fibromyalgia.

Research: Many studies have shown that capsaicin effectively reduces pain from OA. In a 2010 study published in Phytotherapy Research, joint pain decreased nearly 50 percent after three weeks’ use of 0.05 percent capsaicin cream.

Recommended Dosage: Most capsaicin products contain between 0.025 and 0.075 percent concentrations. It can be applied regularly three times a day.

Avocado-soybean unsaponifiables (ASU)

A supplement composed of one-third avocado oil and two-thirds soybean oil

How it works: ASU blocks pro-inflammatory chemicals, prevents deterioration of synovial cells, which line joints, and may help regenerate normal connective tissue.

Research: It has been studied extensively in Europe, where it is routinely used to treat OA. A 2008 meta-analysis found that ASU improved symptoms of hip and knee OA and reduced or eliminated NSAID use. A large, three-year study published in 2013 in the BMJ showed that ASU significantly reduced progression of hip OA compared with placebo.

Fish oil

Oil from cold-water fish such as herring and salmon are a rich source of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. Studies show that fish oil can also relieve symptoms of OA, depression and Sjögren’s syndrome.

How it works: Omega-3s block inflammatory cyto-kines and prostaglandins, and are converted by the body into powerful anti-inflammatory chemicals called resolvins.

Research: EPA and DHA have been extensively studied for RA and dozens of other inflammatory conditions. A 2010 meta-analysis found that fish oil significantly decreased joint tenderness and stiffness in RA patients and reduced or eliminated NSAID use.

Recommended Dosage: Softgel, liquid: 3.8 grams EPA and 2 grams DHA daily for RA. (Look for 85 percent to 90 percent concentrations of omega-3s).

Ginger (Zingiber officinale)

Several trials have shown that the dried or fresh root of the ginger plant can help relieve osteoarthritis pain.

How it works: Used in Asian medicine for centuries, ginger has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties similar to ibuprofen and COX-2 inhibitors. Ginger also suppresses leukotrienes (inflammatory molecules) and switches off certain inflammatory genes, making it potentially more effective than conventional pain relievers.

Research: In a 2012 in vitro study, a specialized ginger extract called Eurovita Extract 77 reduced inflammatory reactions in RA synovial cells as effectively as steroids did.

Recommended Dosage: Can be taken as Capsules, extract or tea.

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This web site is run by an Arthritis Specialist based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. On this site you will find news about the latest in arthritis, information about research results in the field, tips and information and diet and exercise, and much more.

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This web site is run by an Arthritis Specialist based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. On this site you will find news about the latest in arthritis, information about research results in the field, tips and information and diet and exercise, and much more.

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