Today's article is a continuation of our topic yesterday, on arthritis. You can check it out from the beginning here, in case you have not read through.
The most common type of treatment for arthritis is pharmaceutical drugs. Those that are most often prescribed to manage osteoarthritis are analgesics. These drugs are used to, but not also inflammation or the underlying causes of arthritis.
Not only do these drugs pose many potential side effects, but they can also be very addicting. The FDA requires a label warning of risks associated with these prescriptions, including heart attack, stroke and stomach bleeding. These strong pain relievers contain narcotics that lower pain by blocking receptors on nerve cells but don’t treat inflammation and have high rates of dependency.
For dealing with very bad pain, over-the-counter drugs might be helpful temporarily, every now and then. (Tylenol) is the most commonly recommended and most widely available analgesic recommended for osteoarthritis pain, and it’s sometimes used in combination with other drugs or supplements. NSAID painkillers are also commonly used to help control both pain and (including Advil, Bayer, Aleve and Motrin), but again, over-the-counter painkillers won’t treat underlying causes.
If you want to avoid the risk and side effects of prescription painkilling drugs, the alternative natural treatments for arthritis below can greatly help control your pain reverse your condition.
1. Reach and Maintain a Healthy Weight
Additional body fat strains joints, but accumulated fat itself can also cause problems to joints that are already sensitive and partially damaged. Fat does more than just sit on your body — it’s also an active tissue that creates and releases hormones and chemicals. Some of these promote inflammation and can contribute to worsening arthritis all over your body.
Some overweight or obese patients have arthritis in parts of their bodies such as their hands, which obviously don’t support much extra body weight but are still impacted by the negative effects of inflammation. An increase in stored fat cells can speed up the rate at which joints break down, especially in people who have other risk factors for arthritis. This means it’s important to try and maintain a healthy weight by eating an unprocessed, nutrient-dense diet, reducing stress and staying active.
2. Improve Your Diet
Foods for helping treat arthritis include:
- Omega-3 foods: Omega-3s are powerful at lowering inflammation and also have other benefits. Wild-caught fish, including benefit-packed salmon, is your No. 1 food of choice. Other sources include grass-fed beef, flaxseeds, chia seeds and walnuts, which are all great choices.
- Foods high in sulfur: Sulfur contains a form of methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) that reduces joint inflammation and helps rebuild your tissues. MSM has been shown in studies to lower pain and function impairment compared to placebo-controlled groups. Sources include onions, garlic, asparagus and cabbage.
- Bone broth: Bone broth is one of the best natural sources of collagen, which contains the amino acids proline and glycine that help rebuild connective tissue and have many more benefits. Additionally, bone broth supples chondroitin sulphates and glucosamine, antioxidants that help lower inflammation, arthritis and joint pain.
- High-antioxidant foods (especially fruits and vegetables): Colorful fruits and veggies are packed with antioxidants, vitamin C, vitamin A, fiber, magnesium, potassium, digestive enzymes and anti-inflammatory compounds. Some of the best sources include leafy greens, cruciferous veggies, berries, melon, papaya, avocado and pineapple.
- High-fiber foods: Fiber helps control your appetite, is beneficial for digestive health and lowers the risk for various other diseases and complications. The best high-fiber foods include vegetables, fruit, ancient grains, soaked legumes/beans and nuts and seeds like flaxseeds, chia seeds and walnuts.
To help keep inflammation levels low, try to avoid these foods as part of a healing arthritis diet: excess sugar; hydrogenated oils (soybean oil, cottonseed oil, even canola oil); refined conventional grains like gluten, flour products and wheat products; and if you have an autoimmune disease, then also nightshade vegetables like potatoes, eggplant and tomatoes.
3. Stay Active
People with arthritis tend to be less active than those without arthritis, likely due to the pain they feel when exercising and moving stiff body parts. However, physical activity is important for joint health and in the long run, can actually help treat arthritis. Exercise is beneficial for strengthening the muscles around the affected joint, which provides added support and less strain.
Most experts consider movement an essential part of any arthritis treatment plan, even stating that it’s “the most effective non-drug treatment for reducing pain and improving movement in patients with osteoarthritis.” Regular activity has been shown to help lower inflammation, regulate hormones and can even help prevent unnecessary replacement surgeries.
Aim to do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise every week. Exercises that are most appropriate for people with arthritis include:
- daily stretches for improved range of motion and flexibility
- brisk walking for cardiovascular and immune benefits
- aerobic exercises for building strength and endurance, including aquatic exercises, walking, jogging, bicycling, swimming or using the elliptical machine
- strength training using light weights, cables or your own bodyweight exercises for resistance
4. Take Proteolytic Enzymes
Proteolytic enzymes aid in digestion by helping provide important enzymes that are normally produced by your digestive organs to metabolize foods. These enzymes can include trypsin and chymotrypsin (both produced by your pancreas), papain and bromelain. Proteolytic enzymes are obtained from things like tropical fruits, including papaya, which contains papain, and pineapples, which contain bromelain.
Proteolytic enzymes have been found to have anti-inflammatory effects because they help improve overall gut health and immunity. Some research shows they can decrease pain and swelling associated with rheumatoid arthritis, increase mobility in people with osteoarthritis and fight infections by controlling inflammatory responses. Doses vary depending on the kind of enzymes, but recommendations are usually around 500 milligrams to 2,000 milligrams taken three times a day between meals.
5. Consume Ginger and Turmeric
Ginger contains chemicals that may have analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects on the body. In research studies, ginger has been shown to lessen pain associated with arthritis and improve overall digestive/gut health.† A 2005 report published in the Journal of Medicinal Foods stated that ginger extract derived from Zingiber officinale and Alpina galanga plant species inhibits the induction of several genes involved in the inflammatory response. These include genes encoding cytokines, chemokines and the inducible enzyme cyclooxygenase.
More than 100 active components have been isolated from turmeric, including special substances found in turmeric’s volatile oils called turmerone, curcumin, demethoxycurcumin, 5′-methoxycurcumin and dihydrocurcumin. The most active ingredient in turmeric is considered to be curcumin, which is known to be one of the most powerful natural anti-inflammatories there is. The potential anti-arthritic effects of turmeric include inhibition of joint inflammation, reduction in edema and/or swelling and slowed periarticular joint destruction.
Turmeric has been researched in dozens of studies, many investigating its painkilling effects in relation to inflammatory conditions. One study conducted by Nirmala Medical Centre in India investigated the effects of turmeric supplements given to rheumatoid arthritis patients compared to use of conventional arthritis drugs (diclofenac sodium) or a combination of both together. The curcumin group showed the highest percentage of improvements overall, significantly better than the patients in the diclofenac sodium groups, and with practically no negative side effects.