Top 5 Supplements to Fight Arthritis
Arthritis pain is one the biggest reasons my patients visit me. By the time they call my office, many of them are already taking a prescribed pain medication, but it’s not doing enough. Some of them are even taking aspirin and ibuprofen on top of their prescriptions, but their pain is still keeping them from living a full and active life.
If this sounds like you, I have good news for you. There are a handful of supplements that not only end arthritis pain and inflammation, but they can work alongside your prescriptions to help them work even better. I recommend these supplements to my patients and want to share them with you, too.
What’s Causing Your Arthritis?
If you have arthritis, you aren’t suffering alone. Roughly 52 million other people have one of the 100 types of arthritis. Osteoarthritis is the most common, though. It’s characterized by the deterioration of the cartilage between bone joints. So, over time, instead of having a cushion between your bones, they rub against each other, causing pain and inflammation. That friction, in time, actually changes the shape of your bones.
The bad news is that when cartilage is gone, it’s gone for good. Your body cannot regenerate cartilage on its own. But the good news is that supplements can help protect the cartilage you still have AND curb your daily arthritis pain and inflammation.
Curcumin is a superpower supplement that I recommend for nearly everything… because it does nearly everything! For arthritis, curcumin helps you in two major ways (all backed by clinical research). In one study, it proved significantly more effective at relieving inflammation caused by physical exertion than placebo.
Another study looked at curcumin’s effect on chondrocytes, the cells found only in healthy cartilage. Curcumin lasers in on these cells and protects them from being damaged, keeping them strong and flexible.
And a third study confirmed the results of the previously study—showing that curcumin protects cartilage by increasing the metabolic activity of chondrocytes, preventing degeneration, and, in turn, preventing arthritis pain and inflammation from worsening over time.
I cannot understate the importance of arthritis prevention and curcumin’s role in it. Make no mistake, curcumin can work wonders on today’s pain and inflammation, but it’s even more effective for preventing that pain and inflammation from getting worse tomorrow. And then every day after that.
Recommendation: Take 1,500 mg over the course of the day.
Omega-3s are right up there with curcumin in terms of their versatility and ability to improve many aspects of your health. Studies have shown that omega-3s can:
- Reduce your risk of heart disease
- Boost your brain power and functioning
- Help people with diabetes control triglyceride levels
- Reduce symptoms of depression and prevent depression from developing
Piles of research also show that diets high in the omega-3 fatty acids – eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) – can help reduce inflammation throughout your body. Specifically, EPA is better at reducing inflammation and improving circulation. Like curcumin, omega-3 can help prevent arthritis and reduce the pain and inflammation experienced by those who already have it.
Recommendation: Take 1,000 to 1,5000 mg/day of omega-3s EFA. Look for a higher ratio of omega-3 EPA to DHA.
UC-II collagen isn’t a very widely known supplement, but I have a feeling that won’t be the case for very long. UC-II collagen is naturally derived from chicken cartilage then treated to better resemble natural collagen—the primary building block of your own cartilage.
Yes, I know that sounds strange. But, how it works is pretty cool. Sometimes your immune system’s T-cells attack healthy cartilage as part of an auto-immune response to inflammation. Studies show that UC-II “deactivates” these T-cells from attacking cartilage, which then allows the body to repair cartilage and heal joints.
What’s perhaps most impressive is that these findings weren’t part of a drug vs. placebo study. Researchers put UC-II collagen toe-to-toe with glucosamine and chondroitin, one of today’s most common joint supplement duos, also shown to help damaged joints. In a large study of osteoarthritis patients, with an average age of 59, UC-II collagen was faster acting and twice as effective as glucosamine and chondroitin.
On top of that, studies show that UC-II collagen:
- Promotes healthy joint mobility and flexibility
- Improved walking distance and physical functioning
- Allows the body to rebuild joint cartilage
- Improves quality of life
- Promotes joint comfort even after overexertion from physical activity
Recommendation: Take 40 mg of UC-II collagen daily.
You’ve probably taken ginger to sooth stomach pain and nausea. But it’s also a steady-handed painkiller, relieving migraines, sore muscles, and arthritis.
In a study of 247 patients with osteoarthritis, those who took 255 mg of ginger extract reported a 40% reduction in knee pain. The study’s lead author, Roy Altman, MD, put it very bluntly: “Research shows that ginger affects certain inflammatory processes at a cellular level.”
Simply put, by reducing inflammation, you reduce pain. And ginger is a proven and effect anti-inflammatory.
Recommendation: Take 100 – 200 mg of concentrated ginger extract daily.
White Willow Bark/Salicin
White willow bark has been used as a natural pain killer since as far back as 4,000 BC. In the early 19th century, its active ingredient, salicin, was isolated and it later became the chemical foundation for aspirin. But aspirin is associated with unwanted side effects such as liver damage, bleeding, indigestion, heartburn, stomach irritation, and more.
I recommend that you bring it back to basics with natural white willow bark/salicin. Studies show that it’s as effective as aspirin in treating pain. But unlike aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), it has zero side effects.
Recommendation: Take at least 480mg daily.
Reduce Your Pain, Increase Your Vitality
Arthritis can be prevented and stopped– but not solely by mainstream OTCs and prescriptions. These supplements give real pain relief in the most direct manner – protecting your cartilage and bones, reducing inflammation, slowing progression of arthritis.
“Health Benefits of Ginger for Arthritis.” Arthritis Foundation. Published January 22, 2018.