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Osteoarthritis

information on diet, nutrition, self-help & research

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a common degenerative condition of the joints, leading to pain and decreased mobility. It is associated with aging and injury (it used to be called "wear and tear" arthritis).

Self Help

Diet & Lifestyle

  • Warmbrand Diet: A diet free of meat, poultry, dairy, chemicals, sugar, eggs, and processed foods has been used for people with OA with some reported success.
  • Avoid nightshade vegetables: Solanine, a substance found in tomatoes, white potatoes, peppers (except black pepper), and eggplant, may aggravate OA.
  • Allergies: Older reports suggest a possible link between food reactions and worsening of OA symptoms.
  • Obesity: Weight loss may reduce pain levels.

Herbs & Nutritional Supplements

The research on popular chondrotin sulfate and glucosamine sulfate are contradictory and inconclusive. Nonetheless some people do report them to be helpful.

  • Chondroitin sulfate (CS): Some research concludes that CS reduces pain, promotes healing and improves joint movement.
  • S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe): Some research reports it reduces inflammation and pain and heals damaged tissue.
  • Glucosamine sulfate (GS): GS has significantly reduced symptoms of OA in many studies, but there are preliminary reports of possible side effects.
  • Niacinamide (not Niacin): Some research reports good results
  • Vitamin E has been the most researched of the antioxidants and has shown positive results although there is contradictory evidence.
  • MSM Some benefits have been reported for osteoarthritis
  • Cayenne: (topical application of cayenne creams containing 0.025-0.075% capsaicin) Capsaicin, the "burning" substance in cayenne creams, has been used topically to relieve pain from OA.

Read about other herbs and supplements that may be helpful.

There are a number of proactive steps one can take naturally to help reduce pain associated with osteoarthritis.

Symptoms

OA most often affects the spine, knees, hips, knees, and fingers, or sometimes other joints. It's onset is gradual. Patients notice pain that gets worse with exercise and lessens with rest. Patients also report stiffness in the morning that gets better with some movements. However, As osteoarthritis progresses, joint motion is diminished more and more while grating sensations and tenderness may appear and/or get worse. Shooting pain down legs or arms may result from the condition in the spine. Rheumatoid Arthritis, on the other hand is characterized by morning pain and stiffness which tends to improve as the day continues.

Causes

Nearly half of all Americans older than 60 develop osteoarthritis and most people older than 80 will develop it. The percentage of people with osteoarthritis in Canada is even higher. But joints don't just wear out with age. Researchers now recognize that several factors lead to the development of osteoarthritis rather than one single factor. These are:

  • biological factors
  • age
  • joint damage by injury
  • joint damage by chronic obesity
  • heredity

Conventional Treatment

Symptom relief is the primary treatment and includes use of soaking in hot water, application of warm wax, heating pads, and devices to support the joints. Pain medications include acetaminophen, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, etodolac, ibuprofen, indomethicin, and others). Topical cream applications with capsaicin are also recommended for temporary pain relief.

Other herbs & supplements that may be helpful

  • New Zealand green-lipped mussel May help some people, there's a lot of possibly weak evidence.
  • DMSO: Topical; under a doctor's supervision only.
  • Cetyl myristoleate (CMO): 540 mg per day orally for 30 days.
  • Ginger (Zingiber officinale): Ginger has historically been used for arthritis and rheumatism. Both a preliminary trial and a more recent double-blind trial found ginger extract (170 mg three times a day for three weeks) to be slightly more effective than a placebo.
  • Nettle (Urtica dioica): Stinging nettle has traditionally been used for joint pain. Applying nettle to the skin to relieve joint pain appears to be safe and effective.
  • White willow (Salix alba) (100 mg of the active ingredient, salicin, per day): White willow has anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects. Although the analgesic actions of willow are typically slow-acting, they tend to last longer than aspirin.
  • Other herbs

Studies

See footnotes and other research.