Sunday, July 2, 2017

Supplements for joint pain

Your joints can hurt for a number of reasons.  Overdoing it when exercising is one cause, the office softball league is another.  But simply getting older can cause occasional aches and pains.  In fact, you could be dealing with arthritis. 

Anti-inflammatories can help a lot, but there may be some adverse effects with long-term use.   Another thing you can try are supplements.  Be sure you get the real thing from a quality vitamin shop or a reputable online source.

Supplements for joint pain

Here are some ideas to consider:

Sam-e:  Sam-e is an analgesic and an anti-inflammatory.  It is even thought to possibly stimulate cartilage growth.  Sam-e also works on our depressed mood a bit and our brain's ability to suppress pain by stimulating the production of the chemical serotonin.  Researchers think Sam-e is about as effective as most anti-inflammatory drugs.  However, it works similarly to antidepressants, so never mix it with those meds.

Boswellia:  Boswellia, or frankincense, is also an anti-inflammatory and analgesic.  The good news with Boswellia is that it works pretty fast.  Some studies have shown a level of relief in as little as a week - a rarity among herbal products.

Capsaicin:  This is the spicy chemical in chili peppers.  It blocks a molecule in the nervous system called substance P that serves as a messenger for pain between nerve cells.  Capsaicin usually comes as a topical cream, gel or patch.  Needless to say, take care not to use too much!

Turmeric or curcumin:  Turmeric is the spice, but curcumin is the active ingredient in question here.  It seems to block inflammation quite well, and has been shown to block particular chemicals called cytokines.  These molecules directly cause the inflammation that leads to pain.  In fact, it's better used for acute pain rather than long-term pain control.  In fact, a 2012 study showed that turmeric actually better reduced swelling in knees right after injury than anti-inflammatories.

Avocado-soybean unsaponifiables (ASU):  This is the greatest stuff no one's ever heard of.  In a large analysis of studies in 2008, ASU was found to have the single greatest effect on osteoarthritis.  Yes, it's from avocados and soybeans.  ASU is the beneficial fat found in both of these products.  It works incredibly well over the long term, though it can be hard to find!

Ginger:  Ginger actually works in exactly the same way that the conventional anti-inflammatories do.  It's natural, helps calm the stomach down for many people and is pretty safe (with few side effects).  The main problem with ginger is that you have to take it for 3 to 4 times a day for three months to have significant effects.

MSM:  This is a sulfur-containing compound which seems to cut down inflammation in osteoarthritis in several clinical studies.  MSM seems to work about as well as anti-inflammatories.  MSM is generally regarded as a safe by the FDA, with very few side effects.  It seems to work because of the sulfur, which also makes it a fairly potent antioxidant.

Glucosamine/chondroitin:  This is the gold-standard.  Most studies done on Glucosamine/chondroitin have confirmed that it works very well over 6-12 weeks.  The combination of both seems to work better than either one by itself.    Glucosamine/chondroitin has been on the market for years and does provide some relief - about as much as taking anti-inflammatories around the clock.  It's not particularly quick, though.  Six weeks seems to be about the shortest time it takes to start feeling real improvement.

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