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Joint Pain, you don’t have to suffer!

This month we come back to joint pain to remind you of what’s out there to help you get relief.  It’s estimated that over 80% of over 50’s in Ireland suffer from achy and painful joints as a result of wear and tear taking a toll the body’s collagen and cartilage. The medical establishment still seems to rely on NSAIDS (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatories) to reduce pain and inflammation but these are not without unwanted side effects for some and, for this reason alone, the natural alternatives are certainly worth trying. Osteoarthritis is the more common ailment and is related generally to simple joint deterioration while rheumatoid arthritis is less understood and thought to be an auto-immune condition. Many of the remedies and lifestyle changes discussed can benefit either type as both are typified by inflammation leading to pain no matter what the cause.

Lifestyle factors play a major role and should be addressed when necessary. Are you carrying excess weight which is causing joint strain? If so it should be part of the approach to deal with that. Research also shows that smokers are more likely to suffer from osteoarthritis, an other reason to quit!

Moderate exercise such as walking or swimming to help keep joints active is to be encouraged although obviously not to the point of exacerbation.

Diet should be very much in the direction of the alkaline rather than the acid food groups. This means that a diet of predominantly vegetable protein sources and lots and lots of green vegetables is to be encouraged while processed foods in general, white flour and sugar products, excessively spicy foods, tea, coffee and alcohol should all be taken in moderation. Two easy ways to tip the bodies balance in the alkaline direction include taking cider vinegar or green superfoods, especially wheatgrass or barleygrass in supplement or powder form daily and doing this alone has tipped the balance for many. Eat more whole grain foods, oily fish, berries, nuts and seeds.

There’s a large number of supplements to help and the following are the most commonly used and recommended.

Glucosamine Sulphate provides the raw materials (proteoglycans and glycosaminoglycans) which both encourage water retention in the cartilage to effectively ‘cushion’ the joints as well as directly stimulating cartilage repair and halting its degeneration. In studies 1,500 mg daily was found to reduce pain, swelling and tenderness of the joints in the knees of 80% of the participants. However it can take up to three months to start to take effect so patience is needed.

Omega three essential fats either in the form of high quality fish oils or vegetarian alternatives such as flax and borage (starflower) to reduce free radical damage, pain and inflammation.

Boswellia (a tree found in India) a potent blocker of inflammatory compounds in the body. See our post on Solgar 7 last month.

MSM is a source of organic sulphur required for the synthesis of collagen which is the basis of cartilage. Studies have shown sulphur levels in arthritic cartilage to be about a third of that in unaffected joints. MSM also seems to be anti inflammatory in its own right.

Turmeric taken as supplement or in sufficient quantities in the diet can reduce inflammation by lowering histamine levels and by increasing production of natural cortisone by the adrenal glands.

Hyaluronic acid acts as a cushion for the bones. Its lubricating and cushioning effect resists compression and allows the joint to bear weight and withstand tension.

Celadrin is a complex of fatty acids which can easily penetrate cell membranes where it inhibits the production of inflammatory compounds such as prostaglandins.

Vitamin C levels are found to be lower in arthritis sufferers. Vitamin C helps build collagen and is a powerful antioxidant, fighting molecules which trigger rheumatoid inflammation.

L Proline is the main amino acid found in cartilage and helps strengthen joints, connective tissue and tendons.

The herb Devil’s Claw has been shown to be anti-inflammatory and beneficial for both osteo and rheumatoid arthritis as well as gout, bursitis, tendinitis and muscle aches.

And don’t forget the balms and rubs which can often be very speedy at providing relief for painful joints.

Arnica Gel was found to be more beneficial than ibuprofen gel in tests.

Heating gels, typically containing Capsicum (the culinary spice cayenne) stimulate circulation to the joints which can both nourish the joint and eliminate stagnant toxins.

And don’t forget the gut health link. Like low mood and brain fog, joint pain can be symptomatic of disbiosis or an unbalance in good/bad gut bacteria. Especially if you suffer from digestive complaints as well as joint issues this is worth investigating.

There is a large, and sometimes confusing, range of joint health supplements on the market but, for many sufferers finding the right one can bring genuine relief from this debilitating ailment and give back lost quality of life. Look for reputable, quality brands containing one or a number of the above ingredients while looking at the part diet and lifestyle choices might be making to your health.