Best supplements for arthritis: Could this popular plant powder ease your joint pain?

George Morris Physio Wigan

Best supplements for arthritis: Could this popular plant powder ease your joint pain?

ARTHRITIS is prevalent in the UK. More than ten million people are affected by the condition. There is no cure for arthritis but certain treatment can help to slow it down. Studies found this popular product may offer respite.

Arthritis is a condition that causes pain and inflammation in a joint. Osteoarthritis is the common types of arthritis in the UK, with nearly nine million people living with the condition. Osteoarthritis affects the smooth cartilage lining of the joints, cause gradual damage to the joints, making them stiff and painful. Certain treatments can help to reduce the stiffness in the joints, making day-to-day life easier.

Mounting evidence suggests a turmeric supplement could also help alleviate the pain. The yellow-coloured powder has long been touted for its health benefits. The magic formula lies in its active ingredient - curcumin.

Studies suggest a concentration of the powder could reduce pain, inflammation and stiffness related to rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.

As reported by the Arthritis Foundation, several studies show that turmeric/curcumin has anti-inflammatory properties and modifies immune system responses.

A 2006 study showed turmeric was more effective at preventing joint inflammation than reducing joint inflammation. A 2010 clinical trial found that a turmeric supplement called Meriva (standardized to 75 percent curcumin combined with phosphatidylcholine) provided long-term improvement in pain and function in 100 patients with knee osteoarthritis.

In a small 2012 pilot study, a curcumin product called BCM-95 reduced joint pain and swelling in patients with active rheumatoid arthritis better than diclofenac, an nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug.

According to the health site, turmeric can be consumed in capsule form, extract or spice. For osteoarthritis, it recommends 400 mg to 600 mg, three times per day; or 0.5 g to 1 g of powdered root up to 3 g per day. For rheumatoid arthritis, the health body advises 500 mg twice daily.

"Curcumin makes up only about two to six percent of turmeric, so be sure to check the standardised amount of curcumin," advises Randy Horowitz, MD, medical director of the University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine in Tucson.

High doses of turmeric can act as a blood thinner and cause stomach upset, cautioned the health site.

“Avoid turmeric/curcumin if you take blood thinners such as warfarin (Coumadin), are about to have surgery, are pregnant or have gallbladder disease,” it added.

Other ways to manage the condition, include maintaining a healthy weight, said the NHS. “If you're overweight, losing weight can really help you cope with arthritis.

“Too much weight places excess pressure on the joints in your hips, knees, ankles and feet, leading to increased pain and mobility problems.”

The health body advises eating a healthy balanced diet to keep weight under control. A person’s diet should consist of a variety of foods from all five food groups. These are:

Fruit and vegetables

Starchy foods – such as bread, rice, potatoes and pasta

Meat, fish, eggs and beans

Milk and dairy foods

Foods containing fat and sugar

Exercise also plays a vital role, said the health site. “If your arthritis is painful, you may not feel like exercising. However, being active can help reduce and prevent pain,” it explained.

Exercise for people living with arthritis can provide the following health benefits:

Improve a person’s range of movement and joint mobility

Increase muscle strength

Reduce stiffness

Boost energy

The NHS added: “As long as you do the right type and level of exercise for your condition, your arthritis won't get any worse.

“Combined with a healthy, balanced diet, regular exercise will help you lose weight and place less strain on your joints.”

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