Arthritis is a condition characterized by inflammation in the joints. Osteoarthritis (OA) which is the most common type of arthritis, is caused by wearing down of the cartilage which serves as a shock absorber in the joint. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is another common type of arthritis which is caused by the immune system attacking cells in the joint.
Glucosamine is a compound found naturally in the joints to help keep them lubricated. When taken as a supplement by persons with OA, glucosamine decreases the rate at which the cartilage wears down, reduces joint pain and improves mobility.
Chondroitin is another chemical that is naturally present in the joints to help keep the cartilage healthy. Chondroitin supplements have even been proven to relieve joint pain and slow the progression of OA. A 2006 study revealed that they were more effective when taken together with glucosamine sulfate.
Turmeric contains a compound known as curcumin which reduces arthritic joint pain and swelling by blocking certain cytokines. Studies have shown that it effectively reduces pain and improves joint function in persons with OA. A study with RA patients revealed that it was more effective in reducing pain and swelling than a NSAID known as diclofenac.
S-adeonsyl-L-methionine (SAM-e) has anti-inflammatory properties and is thought to stimulate the growth of cartilage. Studies have proven that it is as effective as some non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) in relieving the symptoms of OA. It has also been shown to provide longer benefit and have fewer adverse effects. If you are on antidepressants or medications for Parkinson’s disease, do not take SAM-e since it can interact with them.
Ginger has potent anti-inflammatory properties that are similar in potency to those of ibuprofen, COX-2 inhibitors and corticosteroids. This spice which is used extensively for RA, has also been shown to reduce inflammation and joint aches in persons with OA. If you are taking blood thinners avoid using ginger in medicinal quantities.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Omega 3 fatty acids are other arthritis supplements with proven anti-inflammatory properties. Though these essential fatty acids can be used for any type of arthritis, they are especially beneficial for RA since studies have shown that they can reduce joint pain associated with this condition as well as doses of NSAIDs and corticosteroids required to manage it.
Capsaicin works by reducing levels of a pain transmitter known as substance P. Research has revealed that applying capsaicin to joints for three weeks caused a 50 percent reduction in joint pain in persons with OA.
Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) is used to relieve the pain of arthritis since it is believed to play a role in the formation of connective tissue. Some studies even suggest that it can reduce inflammation. If you are taking blood thinners, avoid using MSM.
Boswellia which is also known as Indian frankincense, is another anti-inflammatory supplement used for arthritis. Studies have shown that it can reduce OA pain and prevent cartilage damage.
Regardless of the supplement you chose and irrespective of whether you will use it to manage osteoarthrits or rheumatoid arthritis always inform your doctor since in addition to reacting with prescription medications some arthritis supplements can worsen pre-existing medical conditions. A good example is ginger which exacerbates gall bladder disease.