Natural Supplements for Healthy Joints

Osteoarthritis and other chronic joint pain problems are conditions that currently affects 27 million Americans, with debilitating symptoms like inflammation and joint pain.  While NSAIDs (non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs) are often prescribed for osteoarthritis and chronic joint pain, they can have negative effects on the health if taken in high doses over a long period of time. 

Natural products are on the rise in the United States for treatment of keeping joints healthy.   In fact, more than one third of adults in the U. S. have admitted to trying them.  Take a look at a few natural products for healthy joints that may provide relief from pain and inflammation without harmful side effects.

Bromelain

A natural enzyme found in pineapple (primarily in the stem), bromelain offers a number of health benefits.  It is said to thin the blood and prevent it from clotting, and it has anti-inflammatory properties which help improve skin conditions like acne, eczema and psoriasis. 

Studies have shown that supplementation of 200 to 400 mg daily of bromelain can help ease pain and inflammation attributed to arthritis as well.  Because it helps reduce swelling and redness, bromelain is also often recommended as a post-surgery supplement.

MSM

Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) is a naturally-occurring compound of biologically-available sulfur that is said to help regulate healthy immune response, lung function and help support healthy joints and ligaments. 

MSM can be found in a number of foods like cereals, fruits, vegetables, fish and milk. However, because of its volatility, health benefits are easily lost during cooking, which is why MSM is taken as a supplement.  It is often paired with glucosamine and/or chondroitin for optimum joint health.  It has shown to be well-tolerated by consumers in clinical trials with few – if any – side effects.

Turmeric
A yellow-orange spice often used in South Asian cuisine, turmeric contains the compound curcumin, which is said to have anti-inflammatory properties.  It can be beneficial to take turmeric as a supplement because it is often paired with piperine – a compound that aids absorption of turmeric.  Because piperine is a form of pepper, the other alternative is to combine turmeric with black pepper when used as a seasoning for food.

Research published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine in 2009 examined curcumin and the NSAID, Ibuprofen, for pain relief and function in 107 individuals with osteoarthritis of the knee.  It was determined that taking daily curcumin extracts for a period of six weeks enhanced function and relieved pain about as well as Ibuprofen.

Note:  Individuals who have scheduled surgery should avoid taking curcumin for at least two full weeks prior because it can occasionally slow clotting of the blood.  Also, those taking blood-thinning medication or people with gallbladder problems should consult with their doctor before trying supplements containing curcumin.

Sources:

http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/complementaryandalternativemedicine/herbsvitaminsandminerals/bromelain

http://www.naturalnews.com/035804_bromelain_enzymes_inflammation.html

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/10/19/the-doctors-remedy-turmeric-for-joint-pain/

http://www.aafp.org/afp/2008/0115/p177.pdf

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