Arthritis and chronic joint symptoms affect nearly 70 million Americans, or about one of every three adults, making it one of the most prevalent diseases in the United States. As the population ages, this number will increase dramatically, as stated by the Centers for Disease Control.
There are two forms of arthritis: Osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Osteoarthritis, or degenerative joint disease, is the more common of the two forms.
It is characterized by the erosion of the cartilage in the joints, especially of the knees, hips, spine, and hands, although other joints may also be affected.
The onset of OA symptoms are typically gradual, beginning with stiffness for the first few hours after waking, followed by pain upon movement of the joint. OA may be caused by overuse of the joint, or by other predisposing factors such as trauma, congenital abnormalities, crystal deposition (such as in gout), or other inflammatory diseases.
There are a variety of effective natural therapies available to those who suffer from OA. Glucosamine sulfate is probably the most recognized, and indeed, can be very helpful in alleviating symptoms associated with OA. Glucosamine is biologically produced as a constituent of cartilage, but as we age, our body’s ability to create this natural substance decreases. Numerous studies using 500 mg of glucosamine sulfate three times a day have shown significant improvement in relieving symptoms of OA, most, even better than nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and with fewer side effects. The most commonly used NSAIDs are aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen. A second study has also shown that 1500 mg taken once a day can be effective, which is good news for those that have difficulty taking divided doses. Glucosamine should be used for at least two months to truly determine if this supplement will be beneficial.
Another fairly familiar nutritional supplement shown to have positive results in the treatment of OA is chondroitan sulfate. Several studies have determined that a regimen of 400 mg three times a day can be quite successful. Many of today’s nutritional joint and pain formulas are made with both glucosamine and chondroitan.
S-adenosylmethionine, or SAMe, is another compound normally found within the cartilage of healthy joints. Supplementation with SAMe has shown significant improvements in the manufacture of cartilage, as well as mild pain-relief and anti-inflammatory action. Studies have shown significant relief in arthritic symptoms, with fewer side effects than NSAIDS, at a dose of 400 to 1200 mg per day.
Green-lipped mussel supplements (Lyprinol) have reduced joint pain and stiffness and have improved overall joint function when taken at a dose of 1200 to 2000 mg per day. This natural marine lipid extract has proven to be safe and effective without the potentially damaging effects often associated with the long-term use of conventional medications.
Other important nutrients that have been successful in reducing the symptoms associated with OA include: manganese, boron, zinc, copper, vitamin C, vitamin E, niacinamide, and pantothenic acid. A high-quality multivitamin should include adequate levels of these nutrients to be effective in combating these symptoms. In addition, fish oil and the herbs Devil’s Claw and Boswellia have also reduced the pain and inflammation associated with OA.
Those who suffer from OA are most often the ones using pain medications; unfortunately, many of these pharmaceuticals do little or nothing to prevent the progress of OA and can result in negative side-effects. Fortunately, we are discovering that nature is providing us with more and more effective natural remedies to not only reduce the symptoms, but the progression of OA as well.
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