Anyone dealing with a chronic disease may at some point look at adding “natural” supplements to help treat their ailments. In the case of those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, natural supplements may have strong anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, be less expensive than prescription medications, and may have less side effects too. It is important, however, to do your homework and consult with your physician before changing your treatment plan and answering the question-“should I use natural supplements to treat my arthritis pain?”.
Some supplements may interact with prescription drugs or with each other and they may not have the science behind their proposed benefits. Spending the time to research these natural supplements will be time well spent. According to the Arthritis Today website (www.arthritistoday.org), dietary supplements include “vitamins, minerals, botanicals, amino acids and any part of those substances, such as extracts or concentrates, which may supplement the nutrition of a diet or the medicines prescribed by a doctor.” Some supplements that have gotten attention recently include the omega-3 fatty acids found in the oils from certain fish, which have been shown to modify inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis when taken in large quantities.
Another study showed that oil extracted from the borage plant had some properties similar to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), without the gastrointestinal side effects. According to arthritistoday.org, however, both of these supplements lack the research to prove the benefits of long term effects. In addition, the dosages available from different suppliers of over-the-counter dietary supplements may vary and lack the protective layer of a pharmacist who is monitoring a patient’s drug interactions.
In an article on arthritistoday.org, entitled, “Backed by Science: 9 Supplements for Arthritis Symptoms,” by Linda Rath, the author points out that in the past, research hasn’t kept pace with consumer demand. She adds, however, that attitudes have changed in the past 15 years and some of these natural supplements are being tested in clinical trials. She lists some of the best natural supplements for addressing the symptoms and progression of osteoarthritis as SAM-e; Boswellia serrate; Capsaicin; Turmeric/curcumin; and Avocado-soybean unsaponifiables (ASU). Among the best natural supplements for rheumatoid arthritis listed in the article are Cat’s claw; fish oil; GLA (gamma linolenic acid); and ginger (Zingiber officinale).
As with the management of any chronic disease, natural remedies can be successfully integrated into the entire treatment plan for arthritis, but should be researched thoroughly and discussed with your health care provider, before implementing. By combining prescription medications, natural supplements, exercise, and properly prescribed joint supports, living with arthritis can be managed effectively and with relatively little pain.Like what you’ve read? Click here to subscribe to the blog!