Rheumatoid Arthritis: NHS on common signs and symptoms
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There’s no miracle diet for arthritis, but many different foods can fight the inflammation at the root of the condition and improve the symptoms. Supplements are an easy way to ensure you get all the right vitamins and minerals needed to fight arthritis, even if your diet isn’t perfect. Express.co.uk reveals the nine most recommended supplements for joint pain, according to the Arthritis Foundation.
Fish oil supplements or omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA are great for rheumatoid arthritis. However, you can also use them for osteoarthritis and Sjögren’s syndrome.
The Arthritis Foundation said: “Omega-3s block inflammatory cytokines and prostaglandins, and are converted by the body into powerful anti-inflammatory chemicals called resolvins.
“EPA and DHA have been extensively studied for rheumatoid arthritis [RA] and dozens of other inflammatory conditions.
“One meta-analysis found that fish oil significantly decreased joint tenderness and stiffness in RA patients and reduced or eliminated NSAID use.”
Ginger has similar anti-inflammatory properties to ibuprofen and COX-2 inhibitors.
In one study, a specialised ginger extract reduced inflammatory reactions in RA as effectively as steroids did.
The Arthritis Foundation added: “Earlier studies showed that taking a certain extract four times daily reduced osteoarthritis [OA] pain in the knee after three months of treatment, and another taken twice daily worked about as well as ibuprofen is taken three times daily for hip and knee OA pain.”
Gamma Linolenic Acid or GLA
GLA is an omega-6 fatty acid that the body converts into anti-inflammatory chemicals, which is really useful for rheumatoid arthritis.
The Arthritis Foundation explains: “In one trial, 56 patients with active RA showed significant improvement in joint pain, stiffness and grip strength after six months and progressive improvement in control of disease activity at one year.
“A smaller study found that a combination of GLA and fish oil significantly reduced the need for conventional pain relievers.”
SAM-e or S-adenosylmethionine
All arthritis patients can benefit from SAM-e supplements, but these work particularly well for osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia.
The Arthritis Foundation explains: “SAM-e acts as an analgesic or pain reliever and has anti-inflammatory properties.
“It may stimulate cartilage growth and also affects neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, which reduce pain perception.
“Two studies have shown that it relieves OA symptoms as effectively as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs with fewer side effects and more prolonged benefit.”
Boswellia serrate, also known as Indian frankincense, is a tree found in India, Africa, and the Arabian Peninsula that is commonly used in Ayurveda.
The chemicals in the plant have been claimed to reduce swelling and increase the body’s immune response.
The Arthritis Foundation site said: “The active components, Boswellic acids, have anti-inflammatory and analgesic or pain-relieving properties. It also may help prevent cartilage loss and inhibit the autoimmune process.
“In one study, the extract, also known as Loxin 5, significantly improved OA pain and function within seven days.
“An Indian study also revealed it slowed cartilage damage after three months of use.”
This supplement works best for osteoarthritis, but it’s worth giving it a go if you have another type.
Capsaicin or Capsicum frutescens
Capsaicin is a type of herbal medicine extracted from chilli peppers and it’s used to treat a wide range of inflammatory conditions, including arthritis.
The arthritis charity’s site explained: “Capsaicin temporarily reduces substance P, a pain transmitter.
“Its pain-relieving properties have been shown in many studies, including a 2010 study published in Phytotherapy Research, which revealed a 50 percent reduction in joint pain after three weeks of use. It is available as a topical cream, gel, or patch.”
While this medicine is most effective on osteoarthritis, it can also be used for rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia.
Turmeric or curcumin
Turmeric contains a chemical called curcumin that is extremely useful for arthritis treatment (especially for osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis).
Curcumin can reduce joint pain and swelling by blocking inflammatory cytokines and enzymes.
The Arthritis Foundation information explained: “A clinical trial using a turmeric supplement showed long-term improvement in pain and function in patients with knee OA.
“A small study using a curcumin product, BCM-95, showed more reduced joint pain and swelling in patients with active RA when compared to diclofenac sodium.”
Avocado-soybean Unsaponifiables (ASU)
Avocado soybean Unsaponifiables are chemicals found in avocado and soybean oils that are mixed together to form ASU products that treat osteoarthritis.
ASU blocks pro-inflammatory chemicals, prevents deterioration of synovial cells, which line joints, and may help regenerate normal connective tissue.
The site explained: “A large three-year study showed that ASU significantly reduced progression of hip OA compared with placebo.
“A meta-analysis found that ASU also improved symptoms of hip and knee OA, and reduced or eliminated NSAID use.”
Cat’s claw is a tropical vine that is promoted as a dietary supplement for a range of health conditions, including arthritis.
The anti-inflammatory supplement inhibits tumour necrosis factor or TNF, a target of powerful RA drugs.
The Arthritis Foundation experts said: “It also contains compounds that may benefit the immune system.
“A small trial showed it reduced joint pain and swelling by more than 50% compared with placebo.
“Look for a brand that is free of tetracyclic oxindole alkaloids.”
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