Supplements That Ease Arthritis

Arthritis refers to a group of conditions characterized by painful inflammation of one or more joints. Arthritis tends to cause pain, swelling, stiffness and limited mobility to its sufferers. Though dietary supplements aren’t intended to replace your current doctor-prescribed treatment, they may help prevent or reduce symptom flare-ups. For best results, discuss supplements with your doctor before taking them.

Ginger

Ginger has been used as natural medicine in Asian, Indian and Arabic cultures since ancient times. It’s known to aid digestion and treat stomach upset, diarrhea and nausea. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC), supplementing your diet with ginger may help relieve inflammation associated with arthritis, potentially more effectively than over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen. To relieve arthritis pain, drink 2g to 4g fresh ginger juice, extract or tea daily. Ginger oil can be rubbed on painful joints as topical treatment; some ginger supplements are sold in capsule form. Ginger-related side effects rarely occur. However, if taken in excess, ginger may cause mild heartburn, diarrhea or mouth irritation. The UMMC suggests that some mild digestion-related side effects, such as gas or belching, may be relieved by taking ginger supplements in capsule form only. Though drug interrations are rare, ginger may interfere with blood thinning medications such as aspirin.

Glucosamine and Chondroitin

Glucosamine and chondroitin, or chondroitin sulfate, are substances naturally present in and around the body’s cartilage cells. The body produces glucosamine, an amino sugar, and distributes it to cartilage and other connective tissues. Chondroitin is a complex carbohydrate that aids water retention in cartilage. The two substances combined in supplement form have recently gained popularity in the U.S. as joint-pain aids. According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, glucosamine and chondriotin may help relieve symptoms of osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis in America. Research is limited and findings are mixed, however, so for best results, discuss the potential risks and benefits of supplementing your arthritis treatment plan with your doctor before taking glucosamine and chondroitin.

Fish Oil

Fish oil supplements generally provide omega-3 fatty acids, healthy fats known to reduce bodily inflammation. Omega-3s also promote heart health. According to the Mayo Clinic, taking fish oil supplements may help reduce pain and stiffness associated with rheumatoid arthritis, a form of arthritis that causes inflammation predominantly in the small joints in the hands and feet that may eventually lead to deformity. Potential side effects of fish oil supplements include nausea, belching and a fishy after-taste in the mouth. Fish oil supplements may interfere with certain medications, so check with your doctor before taking them.

About this Author

August J. McLaughlin is a certified nutritionist and health writer with more than nine years of professional experience. Her work has been featured in various magazines such as “Healthy Aging,” “CitySmart,” “IAmThatGirl” and “ULM.” She holds specializations in eating disorders, healthy weight management and sports nutrition. She is currently completing her second cookbook and Weight Limit – a series of body image/nutrition-related PSAs.