Management Strategies Using Natural Medicine
The most up-to-date data suggests that almost 9 million people in the UK suffer from osteoarthritis. This equates to a staggering 14% of the UK populations living with the chronic and often debilitating pain of this condition
Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage between bones and joints wears down, allowing bones to rub together. This results in the pain, discomfort, loss of flexibility and mobility, tenderness and the sensations of grating bones, all of which form the typical symptoms of this conditions.
Unfortunately, the conventional treatments for osteoarthritis do not address the underlying cause of the problem and typically come with a wide range of associated symptoms that can include heartburn, stomach ulcers and edema and in some cases an increased risk of blood clots, heart attack and stroke.
As a result, research into the natural treatments of osteoarthritis have increased exponentially over the last decade and there is now compelling and rigorous evidence to show the clinical effectiveness of managing osteoarthritis using natural treatments.
The following provides a brief overview of five core approaches that form a vital role to play in the natural management of both the underlying causes and the symptoms of osteoarthritis.
Boswellia or Indian Frankincense is one of the most revered herbal medicines within the pharmacopeia of Ayurveda and one of its primary anti-arthritic medicines. Western research now supports its role and function in the treatment of osteoarthritis; Boswellia is clinically proven to block the 5-lipo-oxygenase enzyme that is the foundational mechanism of joint and arthritic pain. It is so effective in this role that it is now accepted that Boswellia is clinically comparable to NSAIDs such as ibuprofen in the management of arthritic pain. Furthermore, rather than just blocking the mechanisms of pain, it also inhibits the breakdown of joint tissue, thus slowing down the progression of arthritis. Furthermore, it also optimises blood supply to the joints and increases the elasticity and functional capacity of the damaged joints.
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 in existence. The potential anti-arthritic effects of turmeric include inhibition of joint inflammation, reduction in edema and/or swelling whilst slowing down how quickly the joint tissue degenerates, thus slowing the progression of the disease. As a result, it informs an also mandatory component of any long term natural management plan for the prevention and management of osteoarthritis and its associated symptoms. As a starting dose, aim to take 1000mg per day of a good quality organic turmeric supplement, ensuring that it is combined with black pepper which can increase the uptake of its chemical constituents by up to a 1000%! We recommend Pukka Active for this reason.
3. Mahanarayan Oil
An ancient Ayurvedic medicalised oil, Mahanarayan oil delivers powerful joint and arthritis targeting herbs in a blend of sesame oil. With its potent nourishing and strengthening qualities, it is gently topically massaged warm into painful joints to reduce pain and inflammation and increase flexibility and functional capacity. With over 3000 years of time tested use in the management of all forms of joint pain, we use this oil as a fundamental component of treatment in virtually every patient we manage with osteoarthritis. In terms of gain for effort, it really doesn’t get much better than this! In terms of application, aim to apply liberally to the damaged/painful joints twice daily and ideally right before bed. Top quality authentic Mahanarayan oil can be purchased from our website.
4. Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM)
MSM represents an another key ingredient for the symptoms of osteoarthritis. It is a naturally occurring sulphur compound that is found in plants, animals and humans. An incredibly well researched supplement, it has been shown to decrease joint inflammation, improve flexibility and crucially to restore collagen production. This means that it addresses both the symptoms of osteoarthritis and its root cause by helping to actually regenerate the damaged joints. Research shows that many patients with arthritis experience a clinically significant reduction in symptoms and improved quality of life when taking a MSM supplement.
A clinical trial testing the effects of MSM on joint pain in 118 patients with osteoarthritis found that compared to a placebo, MSM supplements taken over 12 weeks resulted in clinically significant improvements in pain, swelling and joint mobility.
5. Omega 3 Oils
Omega 3 oil contains generous doses of EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), two essential fatty acids that have been shown to decrease inflammation in the joints. These fatty acids are incorporated into cartilage cells where they decrease the enzymes that can degrade this flexible tissue over time. They can also help increase blood flow during exercise, leaving your joints less prone to injury. For example, a study published in the Global Journal of Health Science, patients with swollen and tender joints were given a daily Omega 3 supplement. After three months 77% of participants saw a 70% improvement in their condition, so much so that many of them were able to use less pain-relieving medications.
Omega 3 fish oils achieve this because they produce their own chemicals that seem to "turn off" inflammation. The EPA and DHA in Omega 3 are converted by the body into powerful anti-inflammatory chemicals called resolvins, which block inflammatory cytokines and prostaglandins.
As a result of the compelling research attesting to the benefits of Omega 3 oils on both getting to the root cause of osteoarthritis whilst also reducing its symptoms, we can’t recommend this enough as a fundamental component of any osteoarthritis treatment plan.
For those suffering with osteoarthritis, there has never been a better time to implement a natural treatment plan to help reduce symptoms and begin to address the actual joint degeneration that is responsible for the symptoms in the first place.
The above 5 natural treatments afford an effective and evidence based plan to achieve this but as with all supplement regimes, please discuss this with your doctor or healthcare provider before starting or contact us here at Mind-Body Medical to discuss in more detail relevant to your individual circumstances, as we always recommend a full consultation to take into consideration all aspects of your health.