If you have osteoarthritis, you are not alone. It is the most common of all joint diseases and, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), affects approximately 30 million adults in America.
Every year, osteoarthritis sends millions of people to doctors’ offices and pain clinics. Arthritis can keep you from working, enjoying vacations, and just getting around for everyday activities.
Potentially dangerous prescription drugs can seem like an attractive option when you are suffering. But there are three natural medicines that have been extensively researched to relieve pain and keep your knees, spine, and joints throughout the body working smoothly – safely and effectively.
What is Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis is a form of joint disease that develops when cartilage deteriorates. Over time, the space between bones narrows and the surfaces of the bones change shape, leading eventually to friction and joint damage. Osteoarthritis often affects more than one joint, and while it can affect any joint in the body, some joints are affected much more often than others. For example, osteoarthritis is quite common in the hip, knee, lower back, neck, and certain finger joints, but it is rare in the elbow.
Because the risk of developing osteoarthritis increases with age, this form of arthritis is expected to become even more prevalent as the population of the United States grows older.
Is Glucosamine Sulfate the Only Alternative?
As I mentioned earlier, drugs are not typically the best answer for osteoarthritis. All of them come with serious side effects, including nausea, liver damage, and stomach bleeding – to name a few. Not only that, but while they may eliminate pain, they do nothing for the deterioration of the joints.
One natural intervention I’m frequently asked about is glucosamine sulfate (GS).
Because of the lengthy time that GS has been on the market, with better than fair results for joint support, it has gained a wide reputation for joint health with many doctors suggesting its use for their elderly patients.
The clinical reports on GS indicate that about 40 percent of individuals placed on GS will experience benefits after about three months. But as time moves on, so does research. And because of this, I can recommend herbal ingredients that are far more effective than glucosamine.
Herbs to Ease Arthritis
The first herb, boswellia (Boswellia serrata) is from India and has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years. Aside from stopping osteoarthritis and joint pain, boswellia is a powerful inflammation fighter, and is well-researched for reducing respiratory and digestive disease symptoms, and stopping cancer cell growth. One of the most unique characteristics of boswellia is that it is one of the few herbs that inhibits 5-LOX (5-lipoxygenase) inflammation, which flares up in damaged joints.
But when you choose a boswellia extract, you need to look closely at the label. The best boswellia I have found is standardized to have reduced levels of beta-boswellic acids, compounds that reduce the effectiveness of boswellia, and provide at least 10 percent AKBA, the most anti-inflammatory component in the extract. In fact, this is the form that was used in the clinical study of osteoarthritis with curcumin – another herb I recommend to stop the pain and joint damage of arthritis.
Curcumin is one of the primary compounds from turmeric (Curcuma longa), and is one of the world’s most valuable, natural disease fighters. It fights inflammation throughout the body, and has been used in leading clinical studies on depression, Alzheimer’s, rheumatoid arthritis, and many other conditions.
However, like boswellia, curcumin needs to be chosen with care. The best form is enhanced with turmeric essential oil, which boosts the compound’s absorption and blood retention, and delivers turmerones – additional, valuable anti-inflammatory components.
Effective for Osteoarthritis
A published human study compared a combination of the boswellia and curcumin I recommend to the generic drug celecoxib (one brand name is Celebrex®).
In this study, group one received celecoxib (100 mg) twice daily, while the second group received a 500 mg blend of the boswellia and curcumin combination twice daily. For pain relief, 64 percent of those taking the herbal ingredients versus 29 percent in the drug group improved to such a high degree that they were able to move from having “moderate to severe arthritis” to “mild to moderate arthritis.”
Aside from osteoarthritis, boswellia could be very useful for relieving rheumatoid arthritis. That’s because, of the two, rheumatoid arthritis typically presents with greater levels of 5-LOX inflammation. Plus, I think it is important to remember that boswellia and curcumin aren’t going to cause the side effects and complications of prescription and over-the-counter drugs often used to battle arthritis. Additionally, these herbs stop inflammatory joint damage – so they aren’t just stopping pain, they’re stopping the causes of the pain and preserving your joints at the same time.
Joint Relief and Mobility
Another botanical, devil’s claw (Harpagophytum procumbens and Harpagophytum zeyheri), is a must for restoring joints and improving flexibility. This herb has been used for centuries by the native people of South Africa, treating pain with the dried roots of the plant. Science is beginning to understand why it works so well.
In a clinical study published in the journal Phytomedicine, devil’s claw relieved hip pain by 54 percent and knee pain by 38 percent in eight weeks. In another German clinical study, devil’s claw was equal in pain-relieving ability to rofecoxib, better known to pain sufferers as Vioxx, a prescription non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that has since been pulled from the market because of its potentially lethal side effects. One of devil’s claw’s key compounds, harpagosides, can reduce COX-2 activity by 31 percent, which is one reason for its effectiveness in reducing inflammation.
Aside from fighting inflammation, devil’s claw can help preserve the structure of the joints. Cartilage, the cushioning material between our joints and vertebrae is made, in part, of material called glycosaminoglycans, or “GAGs”. A standardized devil’s claw extract with 20 percent harpagosides was shown to increase the level of GAGs by 38 percent. Hyaluronic acid, another GAG, is synthesized in the cells that produce cartilage called chondrocytes. This same devil’s claw extract also boosted the synthesis of hyaluronic acid by 41 percent. This herb reduces the potential for “bone-on-bone” pain because it helps keep that cushioning cartilage healthy.
Three Botanicals for Arthritis and Joints
The pain and stiffness of arthritis is difficult to live with, and the prescription drugs so often used to treat it can create devastating complications. The combination I’ve discussed here relieves pain and helps rebuild the cushioning structure of the joints and vertebrae. If you’re tired of conventional approaches to dealing with osteoarthritis, it’s time to consider these amazing, effective ingredients and rediscover mobility and pain relief without the risks.
To relieve arthritis pain and improve joint lubrication, I recommend taking a combination of specialized Boswellia, Curcumin enhanced with turmeric essential oil, and Devil’s Claw 1-2 times daily.