Arthritis is a common condition causing pain, inflammation and stiffness to the joints. The two most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis – which affects around nine million people in the UK – and rheumatoid arthritis. There is no direct cure for the condition, but certain foods and supplements with anti-inflammatory properties can help improve symptoms. The Arthritis Foundation recommends the following natural supplements to treat pain and inflammation associated with arthritis.
Turmeric contains a chemical called curcumin, which can reduce pain and swelling by blocking inflammatory cytokines and enzymes.
According to the Arthritis Foundation, a clinical trial using a turmeric supplement in 2010 showed long-term improvement in pain and function in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee,
A small study in 2012 using a curcumin product also showed more reduced joint pain and swelling in patients with active rheumatoid arthritis, when compared to diclofenac sodium.
ASU is a natural vegetable extract made from one-third avocado oil and two-thirds soybean oil.
ASU blocks pro-inflammatory chemicals, prevents deterioration of the synovial cells which line joints, and may help regenerate normal connective tissue.
A large three-year study published in 2013 showed ASU “significantly” reduced progression of hip osteoarthritis compared with placebo.
A 2008 meta-analysis found ASU improved symptoms of hip and knee osteoarthritis and either reduced or eliminated the need for use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
The omega-3 found in fish oil blocks certain inflammatory compunds and is converted by the body into powerful anti-inflammatory chemicals, called resolvins.
A 2010 meta-analysis found fish oil significantly decreased joint tenderness and stiffness in patients with rheumatoid arthritis and reduced or eliminated NSAID use.
Ginger has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties similar to ibuprofen and COX-2 inhibitors.
In a 2012 study, a specialised ginger extract reduced inflammatory reactions in rheumatoid arthritis as effectively as steroids did.
Earlier studies showed taking a certain extract four times daily reduced osteoarthritis pain in the knee after three months of treatment, and another taken twice daily worked about as well as ibuprofen taken three times daily for hip and knee osteoarthritis pain.
“Talk to your doctor before taking a supplement so you understand the potential side effects and interactions with your medication,” said the Arthritis Foundation.