4 Homeopathic Remedies for Arthritis Symptoms
Looking for relief from arthritis symptoms? Try these four homeopathic remedies for joint pain.
What is glucosamine?
This promising and popular arthritis symptom-fighter helps build cartilage. It also protects and strengthens the joints as it relieves the pain and stiffness that often accompany this degenerative condition.
The body manufactures a small amount of glucosamine, a fairly simple molecule that contains the sugar glucose. It’s found in relatively high concentrations in the joints and connective tissues, where the body uses it to form the larger molecules necessary for cartilage repair and maintenance. It also inhibits enzymes that break cartilage down, may stimulate production of the chemical in joint fluid that acts as a shock absorber and lubricant, and may have anti-inflammatory properties.
In recent years, glucosamine has become available as a nutritional supplement. Various forms are sold, including glucosamine sulfate, glucosamine hydrochloride and N-acetyl-glucosamine (NAG). Glucosamine sulfate is the preferred form for arthritis: it is readily used by the body and appears to be very effective for this condition.
What does glucosamine do?
Although some experts hail glucosamine as an arthritis cure, no single supplement can claim that title. It does, however, provide significant relief from pain and inflammation for some arthritis sufferers, especially those with the common age-related form known as osteoarthritis.
Benefits of glucosamine
Approved for the treatment of arthritis in at least 70 countries around the world, glucosamine has been shown to ease pain and help repair aging and damaged joints in the knees, hips, spine and hands, potentially also improving joint function.
Some studies have shown that glucosamine is at least as effective at relieving pain and inflammation as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin-and without the side effects. NSAIDs, commonly taken by arthritis sufferers, mask arthritis pain but do little to combat the progression of the disease. In contrast, glucosamine helps make cartilage and may repair damaged joints. Although it can’t do much for people with advanced arthritis, when cartilage has completely worn away, it may benefit people with mild to moderately severe symptoms.
As a joint strengthener, glucosamine may help prevent arthritis and other age-related degenerative joint diseases. It may also improve symptoms of temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder.
How to take glucosamine
Glucosamine can be found in capsule, tablet, powder, cream and liquid forms.
Oral forms: the standard dosage for arthritis and other conditions is 500 milligrams glucosamine sulfate 3 times a day. For convenience, the entire dose of 1500 milligrams can be taken once a day in either pill, liquid or powder form. (Packets that contain a daily dose of powdered glucosamine are convenient; mix it into a glass of water.) Take glucosamine with meals. Food will help minimize the chance of digestive upset. You will need to take it for 2 to 3 months to determine its effectiveness.
Topical forms: follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Glucosamine is taken long term and appears to be very safe. It may not bring relief as quickly as pain relievers or anti-inflammatories (it usually works in 2 to 8 weeks) but its benefits are far greater and longer lasting when it’s used over an extended period of time.
2. Evening primrose
What is evening primrose?
Called evening primrose because its light yellow flowers open at dusk, this wildflower grows in North America and Europe. The plant and its root have long been used for medicinal purposes.
The use of its seed oil, which contains gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), is relatively recent. GLA is an essential fatty acid that the body converts to hormone-like compounds called prostaglandins, which regulate a number of bodily functions.
What does evening primrose do?
The body produces several types of prostaglandins; some promote inflammation while others control it. The GLA in evening primrose oil is directly converted to important anti-inflammatory prostaglandins, which accounts for most of the supplement’s therapeutic effects. This may explain its effectiveness in reducing the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, allowing people to decrease or stop treatment with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
Benefits of evening primrose
Evening primrose oil can reduce damage to joint tissue in people with rheumatoid arthritis, as a result lessening joint pain and swelling.
How to take evening primrose
You can take evening primrose as a capsule, softgel or oil.
For precise doses, consult your health-care practitioner. Try 5 to 28 grams of evening primrose oil a day (0.5 to 2.8 grams GLA).
Dividing the daily dose into smaller doses may reduce the risk of stomach upset.
Take evening primrose oil or other sources of GLA with meals to enhance the compound’s absorption.
Many experts recommend buying evening primrose oil that contains a small amount of vitamin E. The fatty acids in evening primrose oil break down quickly and vitamin E slows this process.
What is chondroitin?
Chondroitin sulfate is a naturally occurring chemical found in the gristle in meat. Supplemental chondroitin is generally prepared from natural sources such as shark or cow cartilage.
Chondroitin sulfate was discovered in the 1960s and belongs to a class of compounds called “mucopolysaccharides.” These compounds are found naturally in cartilage and other connective tissues. Mucopolysaccharides work by helping these tissues stay flexible. Research also suggests chondroitin can help the body repair damaged cartilage.
What does chondroitin do?
Mucopolysaccharides such as chondroitin surround the protein filaments that make up cartilage and other connective tissues. The mucopolysaccharides form a matrix that helps keep these tissues flexible. In osteoarthritis, the cartilage that lines and protects the joints is worn away, allowing the underlying bone to become damaged and causing pain and deformity as well as interfering with normal use. Chondroitin supplements act in several different ways to protect cartilage from wear and tear.
The supplement provides raw material for chondrocytes (the cells that make cartilage) to repair the damaged cartilage. It also increases the amount of the lubricant that is naturally found in joints; this fluid acts as a shock absorber for the joint and brings essential nutrients to chondrocytes to keep them healthy and well nourished. In addition, chondroitin inhibits some chemicals found in joint fluid that can damage cartilage.
Chondroitin protects cartilage from everyday wear and tear by helping the cells that make cartilage stay healthy and active. It also has an anti-inflammatory effect that may protect joints from the detrimental effects of inflammation.
Benefits of chondroitin
Chondroitin decreases the pain of osteoarthritis and improves the function of joints damaged by this often painful degenerative condition. A major review of the research found chondroitin could improve symptoms by around 50 per cent. Some scientists have questioned the magnitude of these benefits but, although the exact degree of effectiveness has not yet been determined, chondroitin does seem to offer real hope for people with this condition.
Chondroitin is as effective as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin but without the side effects. However, its benefits are slower to appear and treatment may take months. The benefits of chondroitin persist for some time after treatment has stopped.
A review of the scientific research concluded chondroitin was effective at reducing pain and increasing mobility in people with osteoarthritis of the knee. It was also shown to be extremely safe.
How to take chondroitin
Chondroitin is available in tablet, capsule, liquid and powder forms.
Take 800 to 1200 milligrams a day. This can be taken as 1 dose or divided into 2 doses.
You will need to take chondroitin for 4 to 5 months to find out if it will benefit you.
Chondroitin may be sold in combination with other supplements thought by some to treat arthritis, such as shark cartilage, glucosamine or minerals. However, it is not known whether these combinations offer additional benefits.
Chondroitin may make nonsteroidal antiinflammatories (such as ibuprofen or naproxen) more effective. A reduction in dosage may be necessary.
4. S-adenosyl-l-methionine (SAMe)
What is SAMe?
This compound can be found in all cells in the body and may play a key role in treating arthritis, as well as depression and, possibly, preventing or treating liver damage.
SAMe is made by the liver from the amino acid methionine, which is absorbed from the intestines from meaty meals. Up to half of your dietary intake of methionine is converted to SAMe, a compound that is vital to a large number of the body’s processes.
What does SAMe do?
SAMe plays a vital role in an astonishing number of chemical reactions in the body, including making important compounds such as melatonin and adrenaline. It helps make DNA and RNA, the genetic material in cells. SAMe also works with folate and vitamin B12, particularly when levels of these essential vitamins are low, to reduce high levels of homocysteine in the blood (too much homocysteine can increase your risk of heart and blood vessel disease).
Benefits of SAMe
SAMe is used to treat osteoarthritis and is as effective as many mainstream drugs at reducing pain and improving the function of affected joints, a major review of the research concluded. In the longest study, which ran for 2 years, volunteers took a loading dose of 600 milligrams a day for 2 weeks and then followed this up with a maintenance dose of 400 milligrams. Improvements in their symptoms occurred within a month and there were no serious side effects. A recent study comparing 1200 milligrams a day of SAMe with the mainstream pain-killer celecoxib found the drug was more effective in the first month of treatment-but by the end of the second month, there was no difference.
In studies, SAMe was able to protect chondrocytes (the cells that produce the cartilage that lines joints and protects them from wear and tear) from damage. It also stimulated them to produce protective chemicals called proteoglycans, which help cushion the joints and provide lubrication so they can move freely and easily. Scientists have also shown that SAMe has anti-inflammatory properties that are the equal to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin. However, they appear to act in quite a different way to NSAIDs, which work by reducing the synthesis of prostaglandins, chemical messengers that promote inflammation and can lead to pain, swelling, redness and heat. Consequently, SAMe has far fewer side effects.
How to take SAMe
You can take SAMe as a tablet or capsule.
For osteoarthritis treatment take up to 1200 milligrams a day until your symptoms improve then use 400 milligrams a day to maintain this improvement.
Divide the daily dose of SAMe into 3 equal portions and take throughout the day. Among other things this should reduce stomach upset.
SAMe can be quite expensive. If you are taking it for osteoarthritis, you might like to compare it with glucosamine or chondroitin.
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