When it comes to choosing natural paths to arthritis relief, the best and only place to start is by understanding what little medical research does exist.
Herbal supplements occasionally can cause harm, particularly when used in ways not directed. Less always is better to begin, and nobody should start a natural supplement plan without first talking to their doctor.
Here are 15 natural arthritis treatments which have already passed scientific muster to some degree or another.
1. Fish Oil/Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Fish oil and omega-3 fatty acids have become popular natural arthritis treatments for joint pain relief. They work by blocking chemicals called cytokines and prostaglandins that cause inflammation. Instead, the body converts them into inflammation fighters.
A 2010 meta-analysis—the granddaddy of medical research papers because it reviews all the previous papers on a topic—declared “when collateral benefits of fish oil are included within efficacy, the argument for its adjunctive use in (rheumatoid arthritis) is strong.”
The researchers lambast the pharmaceutical industry for attempting to silence the benefits of fish oil.
“Despite evidence for efficacy and plausible biological mechanisms, the limited clinical use of fish oil indicates there are barriers to its use,” they conclude. “These probably include the pharmaceutical dominance of RA therapies and the perception that fish oil has relatively modest effects.”
2. Cat’s Claw
It sounds like it could sting, but cat’s claw has been proven effective for treating osteoarthritis.
That’s the conclusion of a small, year-long clinical trial of 40 people with rheumatoid arthritis. The study was published in the esteemed journal Rheumatology.
3 & 4. Glucosamine and Chondroitin
These two supplements often are used in tandem to treat joint pain. They are compounds which reduce inflammation and therefore provide joint pain relief, according to the people who use them.
Scientific studies have yielded mixed results on the efficacy of these compounds. Some studies say the compounds are no more effective than placebo; others say they do help. Even the medical establishment cannot agree on whether glucosamine and chondroitin are effective at bringing about arthritis relief.
A January 2018 study looked at various ways of treating osteoarthritis of the knee and hip economically. “Given the effectiveness of these non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and symptomatic slow-acting drugs, oral celecoxib is more effective than placebo on relieving pain and improving physical function, followed by the combination of glucosamine and chondroitin. Acetaminophen is likely the least efficacious intervention option. This information, accompanied by the tolerability and economic costs of the included treatments, would be conducive to making decisions for clinicians.”
The study, a meta-analysis which analyzed 61 previous studies, appeared in Clinical Experience Rheumatology.
Clinical trials are very expensive, and traditionally there has not been a lot of support for government research dollars that examine non-pharmaceutical solutions. That’s changing, however, with the onset of the opioid crisis.
5-11. Collagen Hydrolysate, Passion Fruit Peel Extract, Curcuma Long Extract, Boswellia Serrata Extract, Curcumin, Pycnogenol, and L-carnitine
Why lump these all together? Because they all come from the same study, a meta-analysis and systematic review in the journal British Sports Medicine.
The authors of the paper determined, after sifting through 69 clinical trials of 20 supplements, the above 7 natural arthritis treatments result in “clinical pain reduction.”
12. Daily Sesame Oil
This one comes from research on rats, but often that’s the only research we have for new ideas in natural pain relief.
In a study published in the journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, scientists determined “daily sesame oil supplements may attenuate early joint pain by inhibiting Nrf2-associated muscular oxidative stress in (osteoarthritis) rat model.”
How did they induce pain in the rats, and how did they measure it? “Rat joint pain was induced by medial meniscal transection in Sprague-Dawley rats and assessed by using hind limb weight distribution method.”
It’s up to you whether you want to try the sesame oil.
13, 14 and 15: Amino acids Including Cysteine, Methionine, and Arginine
Cysteine, an antioxidant, works by attenuating inflammation and preserving bone cells. In a 2017 study published in the Korean Journal of Internal Medicine, cysteine proved effective in reducing inflammation and bone deterioration in rats induced with simulated rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.
Methionine also is believed to boost skeletal development and keep it healthy. In a 2016 study published in the journal Mediators of Inflammation, rodents induced with rheumatoid arthritis symptoms but given methionine gained muscle and experienced fewer severe arthritis symptoms than a control group.
Finally, yet another study showed arginine, an enzyme, relieves arthritis symptoms in rats. The study was published in BMC Arthritis Research and Therapy.
Human studies also show that amino acids call help relieve arthritis pain by reducing inflammation. Learn more about amino acids and arthritis relief from a world-renowned amino acid expert in this article.