A low-fat, low-cholesterol diet filled with the complex carbohydrates found in vegetables and grains has been shown to be very helpful in dealing with many cases of arthritis. This type of diet reduces the fat in the tiny arteries that supply blood to the joints, allowing more oxygen and other nutrients to nourish them.
In addition to a good low-fat diet, a number of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients are useful for arthritis.
Vitamin therapy may relieve certain arthritic symptoms. Beta carotene (vitamin A) has an antioxidant effect on cells, neutralizing destructive molecules called free radicals. Vitamins C, B6, and E, as well as zinc, are thought to enhance collagen production and the repair of connective tissue. Vitamin C may also be advised for people taking aspirin, which depletes the body's vitamin C balance. Niacin (vitamin B3) may also be helpful, although excessive use may aggravate liver problems.
Boron plays a major role in bone health. It helps the body regulate calcium, keeping it from leaving the body and weakening the bones. Epidemiological studies from several countries have shown that in areas where the soil contains more boron and people are presumably eating boron-rich foods grown in that soil, there is less osteoarthritis. When boron supplements were given to hospitalized arthritis patients, some 90 percent reported "complete remission" of symptoms. Apples, nuts and green leafy vegetables are good sources of boron.
Bromelain, an enzyme derived from pineapple, has a notable anti-inflammatory action. Take 200 to 400 milligrams three times daily, between meals.
Black currant seed oil, borage oil, evening primrose oil, fish oil, and flaxseed oil contain essential fatty acids that increase the production of anti-inflammatory prostaglandins. Take 500 to 1,000 milligrams of any of these oils twice daily. It may take several weeks to notice an improvement in symptoms.
DLPA (dl- phenylalanine ) is a simple nutritional amino acid. Studies have shown that DLPA effectively blocks arthritis pain and joint inflammation in many patients. It is much safer than the standard arthritis medications. It takes longer to show an effect compared to standard anti-pain and anti-arthritis drugs. More about DLPA.
Glucosamine, a compound of the simple sugar glucose and the amino acid glutamine, has been shown to be an effective natural means of slowing cartilage breakdown and encouraging cartilage repair. With continued use, it helps to relieve joint pain and stiffness. Several studies have shown that glucosamine can be a more effective pain reliever than ibuprofen for arthritis. Take 500 milligrams of glucosamine three times daily. It may take as long as six to eight weeks to attain maximum relief.
Many people with arthritis are deficient in manganese, a trace element that activates important enzymes and is necessary for normal skeletal development. Take 5 milligrams twice daily for one month.
Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), a natural source of sulfur, can help relieve arthritis pain and maintain joint health. Sulfur is an essential component of make up connective tissue. Take 500 milligrams three or four times daily, with meals. Sulfur is naturally found in meat, milk, poultry and fish.
Omega-3 fatty acids, found in many fish, have shown promise in fighting arthritis. Some 26 osteoarthritis patients ranging in age from 52 to 85 were given either an omega-3 fatty acid called EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) or a placebo. Six months later, those who had received the EP A had less pain and were better able to perform normal activities, as compared to the placebo group.
Pantothenic acid, part of the vitamin B complex, has been shown to help prevent and alleviate arthritis. The connection between this nutrient and arthritis was made nearly forty years ago. But there is definitive study that shows precisely how it works. Many people do find relief from their symptoms with pantothenic acid. Take 3 g. daily. It will take one to two weeks before you see any result. If no results are seen in three weeks, discontinue the supplement. Some physicians recommend up to 12 g. of pantothenic acid a day, but this should be taken only under your doctor's supervision.
S-adenosylmethionine (SAM or SAM-e) is an amino acid derivative that has been shown in clinical trials to be comparable in effect to the combination of glucosamine and chondroitin. Like glucosamine, SAM plays a role in the formation of cartilage. It also exerts a mild analgesic effect. In one study, it was shown to be even more effective than Motrin in treating the pain of arthritis.
Try taking it as follows:
Selenium is a powerful antioxidant that fights free-radical damage. Take 200 micrograms of selenium daily. You'll find selenium in almonds, barley and oranges.
Shark cartilage may be useful. Each day, take one 750-milligram capsule per 11 pounds of body weight (or 1 gram of powder per 15 pounds of body weight), divided into three equal doses. Once you have achieved relief of pain, reduce the dose to one 750-milligram capsule per 30 pounds of body weight (or 1 gram of powder per 40 pounds of body weight). See more details in our shark cartilage page.
Superoxide dismutase, also known as SOD, has also shown promise as an arthritis fighter. When 253 people with noninfectious joint inflammation were given a supplement containing SOD, 228 of them reported decreased pain and swelling, along with increased mobility of the afflicted joints.
Vitamin E protects against muscle-wasting and is essential in cellular respiration, thus helping remove toxins. Vitamin E, like the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs used for arthritis, inhibits the prostaglandins that play a role in pain. When 50 patients were given either 400 IU of vitamin E or a placebo, the vitamin E group reported greater pain relief and had to use less pain medication. In another study, 29 patients were given either vitamin E or a placebo for 10 days. Then the groups were switched without their knowledge, so that the vitamin E group was getting a placebo and the placebo group the vitamin E for an additional 10 days. The vitamin E produced "good" pain relief in 52 percent of the patients, compared to 1 percent for the placebo. Wheat germ, nuts and tomatoes are natural sources of Vitamin E.
Choose a product containing mixed tocopherols and start by taking 200 international units daily, then gradually increase the dosage until you are taking 400 international units twice daily, once in the morning and again at bedtime.
Caution: If you have high blood pressure, limit your intake of supplemental vitamin E to a total of 400 international units daily. If you are taking an anticoagulant (blood thinner), consult your physician before taking supplemental vitamin E.
Vitamin C is important for the synthesis of collagen and the repair of connective tissue.
Vitamin B6: Many older people are found to be deficient in B6. The first symptoms of a deficiency include tingling, pain, and stiffness in the hands. Arthritis patients are recommended to take a supplement of B6 in addition to the B6 that's in your recommended daily antioxidant vitamin/mineral supplement.
Vitamin B1 and B12: One study found an important relationship between doses of NSAIDs and vitamins B1 and B12. When administered to persons with arthritis these two B vitamins enhanced the effectiveness of the pain killing drugs, allowing for a lower dosage of the drugs. The effect was seen in as little as seven days. If you take drugs for pain relief, it would be worth taking vitamins B1 and B12 to see if they help you reduce your dosage.
Vitamin A and the minerals zinc and copper are crucial to the formation of collagen and connective tissues. Be sure that your daily multivitamin contains at least the minimum RDA of these.
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