Five Natural Remedies for Osteoarthritis
Fix Joint Pain and Improve Flexibility
I am a 59 year old female with osteoarthritis of the hip and knee. Are there any natural remedies that can help with improving pain and flexibility?
Osteoarthritis (OA) is a degenerative joint disease and is the most common form of arthritis. It is characterized by a breakdown of cartilage and bone within the joints of the knees, hips, spine and hands, causing pain, swelling, stiffness, and decreased flexibility. The onset is gradual , beginning after the age of 40, with women being affected more commonly than men and overweight individuals having an increased susceptibility due to the increased pressure on weight bearing joints.
Although the exact cause is unknown, it is believed to result from injury, wear and tear, and molecular changes such as a destruction in collagen or a decrease in hydration/lubrication in the joint.
Conventional treatment for OA provides symptomatic relief and improves function using physical therapies, weight control, and treatment with over the counter pain medications and NSAIDS. Various natural remedies can help to increase joint lubrication, prevent further deterioration and provide a gentle, effective alternative for healing pain and improving flexibility.
Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate: Naturally produced by the body and found in the joints, glucosamine is required for the manufacture of glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) and proteoglycans (PG) – the building blocks of connective tissue and cartilage. GAGs hydrate collagen by binding water, helping to cushion the joint and prevent breakdown. Glucosamine is easily absorbed orally and helps to improve pain, stiffness, tenderness, and swelling while improving joint performance and flexibility. Chondroitin sulfate, an equally important component of joints, works synergistically with glucosamine to increase collagen production, support joint structure, prevent deterioration, and aid in joint repair.
MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane): Sulfur is concentrated in joints and connective tissue, and is required for the healthy function of muscles, ligaments, and tendons. MSM, along with glucosamine and chondroitin, provide the body with sufficient sulfur to repair damaged tissues, and maintain strength and structure. MSM relieves pain and inflammation associated with OA, as well as muscle cramps and spasm.
Herbal Remedies: Boswellia and Turmeric, have been studied for their anti-inflammatory, anti-arthritic and pain relieving properties. These herbs prevent the formation of inflammatory compounds, increase GAG production, and improve pain, swelling, and flexibility. Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, is also a powerful anti-oxidant that aids in repairing tissue.
Collagen & Hyaluronic Acid: Collagen is the primary protein found in connective tissue and supplementing with Type 2 Collagen has been shown to minimize inflammation, reduce pain/stiffness, and improve range of motion in arthritic joints. Hyaluronic acid lubricates and nourishes cartilage, reduces friction, and improves movement.
Antioxidants: Free radical damage plays a large role in the destruction of connective tissue and prevents proper repair mechanisms in the joints. Polyphenols found in grape seed, raspberry, and blueberry help to improve elasticity and flexibility. Cranberries contain salicylic acid (the pain relieving ingredient in Aspirin), while strawberries, bilberries, and pomegranate juice contain an abundance of plant compounds known for their ability to quench free radicals, improve circulation, and reduce inflammation.
Dr. Suzanna Ivanovics, ND operates a naturopathic practice in downtown Toronto and is a consultant at The Big Carrot.