Supplements for Arthritis Symptoms Relief

Arthritis is a common condition characterized by joint pain, stiffness, and decreased range of motion. Osteoarthritis is the most prevalent type of arthritis, affecting over 30 million adults in the United States alone. As the population ages, the prevalence of osteoarthritis is expected to rise significantly.

While there is no cure for osteoarthritis, certain supplements have been shown to help reduce symptoms and improve quality of life. In this article, we will explore the top 3 supplements for arthritis symptom relief based on clinical evidence.

Boswellia Serrata for Arthritis

Boswellia serrata is an herbal extract obtained from the resin of the Boswellia serrata tree, also known as Indian frankincense. Boswellia has a long history of use in Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese medicine for inflammatory conditions.

Modern research has confirmed boswellia’s potent anti-inflammatory and analgesic (pain-relieving) properties. Boswellia works similarly to aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). However, unlike NSAIDs, boswellia does not appear to cause gastrointestinal side effects.

Overview of Research

Multiple clinical studies have been conducted on boswellia for osteoarthritis symptom relief:

  • A 2018 systematic review and meta-analysis examined the efficacy of boswellia for osteoarthritis. Boswellia preparations significantly improved pain, function, and stiffness compared to placebo. The effects were comparable to NSAID medications.
  • A comprehensive 2018 study analyzed over 20 popular supplements for osteoarthritis. Boswellia extract was among the top performers for improving pain, stiffness, and physical function.
  • In a 12-week study of 75 patients, boswellia extract reduced pain and improved mobility in osteoarthritis as effectively as the prescription NSAID valdecoxib. Boswellia had fewer adverse effects.
  • Another study found boswellia extract comparable to the NSAID diclofenac for reducing pain, swelling, and joint tenderness caused by osteoarthritis.

Based on this robust body of research, boswellia appears to be a highly effective option for relieving osteoarthritis symptoms. The benefits are similar to NSAID pain medications but with better safety and tolerability.

Dosage Recommendations

The optimal boswellia dosage for osteoarthritis is 100-250 mg per day of standardized boswellia extract. It should be taken with food to enhance absorption.

At this dosage, boswellia is very safe. Studies indicate it does not cause more side effects than a placebo. Rare side effects may include nausea, abdominal pain, diarrhea, or allergic rash.

As with any supplement, check with your doctor before taking boswellia, especially if you take prescription medications. Boswellia may increase the effects of anticoagulants and NSAIDs.

Curcumin for Arthritis

Curcumin is the main active compound in the bright yellow spice turmeric. It has remarkable anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

Extensive research indicates curcumin effectively reduces osteoarthritis symptoms. It may work as well as prescription NSAID drugs.

Overview of Research:

Key clinical trials on curcumin for osteoarthritis include:

  • A 2019 systematic review and meta-analysis of 8 studies with 606 patients found curcumin significantly improved pain, stiffness, and physical function compared to placebo. The benefits were comparable to NSAID medications.
  • Another meta-analysis of clinical trials concluded curcumin was equivalent to NSAIDs for relieving arthritis symptoms. But curcumin did not have the gastrointestinal side effects common with NSAIDs.
  • In a 6-week study of 117 patients, curcumin relieved pain and improved function as effectively as the NSAID diclofenac. Patients taking diclofenac had significantly more adverse effects.
  • Several other studies also found curcumin supplements reduced osteoarthritis pain and inflammation similarly to NSAIDs, without side effects.

This compelling research demonstrates curcumin is an excellent natural alternative to NSAIDs for arthritis relief.

Dosage Recommendations

Clinical studies typically use curcumin doses of 1000 mg per day, taken in divided doses with meals to enhance absorption.

Curcumin supplements are very well tolerated, even at high doses. Mild side effects occasionally reported include nausea, diarrhea, headache, or rash.

Curcumin may increase the risk of bleeding if combined with anticoagulant or antiplatelet drugs. Consult your doctor before using curcumin supplements.

Glucosamine and Chondroitin

Glucosamine and chondroitin are natural compounds found in healthy cartilage. They are among the most popular supplements for relieving osteoarthritis.

But research on their efficacy has been mixed. Studies show the combination of glucosamine and chondroitin provides modest benefits for arthritis symptoms.

Overview of Research:

  • A large 2014 review found that together, glucosamine and chondroitin significantly reduced joint pain and improved physical function compared to placebo. But the effects were small.
  • Another extensive review concluded glucosamine plus chondroitin may provide slight pain relief and improve function for some osteoarthritis patients. However, many studies found no difference from placebo.
  • Multiple analyses indicate glucosamine alone has minimal to no benefit for osteoarthritis. Chondroitin alone may provide mild pain relief. But the combination works better.
  • In head-to-head comparisons, other supplements like boswellia and curcumin outperformed glucosamine and chondroitin for relieving osteoarthritis.

In summary, evidence indicates glucosamine and chondroitin together may provide mild-to-moderate improvement in osteoarthritis symptoms. But other options like boswellia and curcumin seem to work better.

Dosage Recommendations

Clinical studies showing benefits for osteoarthritis generally use daily doses of:

  • Glucosamine: 1500 mg
  • Chondroitin: 800-1200 mg

To get the most benefit, take glucosamine and chondroitin together, with food. They appear safe for long-term use.

Mild side effects occasionally reported include nausea, heartburn, diarrhea, and constipation. Glucosamine may worsen insulin resistance. Those with shellfish allergy should avoid glucosamine derived from shellfish.

Other Supplements for Arthritis

Several other natural remedies are promoted for osteoarthritis, though evidence for their efficacy is limited:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids: Fish oil supplements provide modest improvement in joint pain and stiffness. Benefits appear small compared to other options.
  • Vitamin D: Low vitamin D levels associate with arthritis progression. But supplementing vitamin D provides little symptom relief unless deficient.
  • Collagen: Some promising evidence suggests collagen hydrolysate may reduce osteoarthritis pain. More research is needed.
  • Avocado soybean unsaponifiables (ASU): Made from avocado and soybean oils, ASU may mildly decrease arthritis pain and improve function.
  • Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM): Early evidence is mixed on whether MSM improves osteoarthritis symptoms better than placebo.

Supplements for Relieving Osteoarthritis

In conclusion, three of the best supplements for relieving osteoarthritis symptoms are:

  1. Boswellia serrata
  2. Curcumin
  3. Glucosamine and chondroitin (combined)

Robust clinical evidence supports boswellia and curcumin for significantly improving pain, joint function, and stiffness caused by arthritis. They appear as effective as NSAID pain medications, with better safety.

Glucosamine and chondroitin together provide mild-to-moderate relief for some people. Other supplements like omega-3, vitamin D, collagen, ASU, and MSM have limited evidence or smaller effects compared to other options.

Choose high-quality supplements from reputable brands. Check with your healthcare provider before starting any new supplement, especially if you take other medications. With the right natural remedies, many people with arthritis find worthwhile improvements in joint comfort and quality of life.

How to Keep Digestive System Healthy

The digestive system is a fascinating and complex process that breaks down the food we eat into microscopic particles that can be absorbed into the bloodstream. In order to keep the digestive system functioning optimally, it is important to understand how each part works and what we can do to support its health. This article will provide an overview of the digestive organs, enzymes, and processes involved in digestion, and offer tips on dietary and lifestyle habits that promote good gut health.

The Mouth: Where Digestion Begins

The mouth is the first step in the digestive process. It is the only area where we have total control over what goes in. The mouth’s pH is alkaline, which helps neutralize acids that may come up from the stomach. There are two enzymes produced in the mouth:

  • Salivary amylase: Produced in the salivary glands, this enzyme starts breaking down starch. It is activated when a baby’s back molars grow in.
  • Lingual lipase: Produced under the tongue, this enzyme starts breaking down saturated fats.

In addition to enzymes, chewing is another critical function of the mouth. Thoroughly chewing food into a near-liquid state makes it easier for the rest of the digestive tract to break it down. The well-chewed food then passes through the esophagus and into the stomach via the cardiac sphincter.

The Stomach: Where Protein Digestion Begins

While the mouth is alkaline, the stomach contains hydrochloric acid and has an acidic pH. This is important for:

  • Activating the enzyme pepsin which breaks down protein
  • Killing off any bacteria, yeast, or other pathogens that may have entered with the food

The stomach digests protein with the help of three components:

  1. Pepsinogen – released from glands in the stomach
  2. Hydrochloric acid – also released from glands in the stomach
  3. Intrinsic factor – required for B12 absorption; released from parietal cells in the stomach

When food enters the stomach, hydrochloric acid activates pepsinogen into pepsin, allowing it to break down protein. Intrinsic factor binds with vitamin B12 so it can later be absorbed in the small intestine.

After 1-4 hours of digestion, partially broken-down food passes from the stomach into the small intestine via the pyloric sphincter. Problems like heartburn can occur if this sphincter does not close properly, allowing stomach acid to reflux up the esophagus.

The Small Intestine: Where Nutrients Are Absorbed

The majority of nutrient absorption happens in the small intestine, which is divided into three sections:

  1. Duodenum – Where food from the stomach is further mixed with digestive enzymes from the pancreas, liver, and gallbladder.
  2. Jejunum – Main area of nutrient absorption.
  3. Ileum – Absorbs vitamin B12, bile acids, and any remaining nutrients.


The pancreas releases crucial enzymes into the duodenum:

  • Pancreatic amylase – Finishes breaking down starches.
  • Pancreatic lipase – Breaks down fats.
  • Trypsin and chymotrypsin – Break down proteins.

Liver and Gallbladder

The liver produces bile, which gets stored in the gallbladder until released into the small intestine. Bile contains bile salts and phospholipids that emulsify and break down fats.

Small Intestine Lining

The walls of the small intestine contain finger-like projections called villi that absorb nutrients from food into the bloodstream and lymphatic system. The cells of the villi produce digestive enzymes as well.

Healthy gut flora consisting mainly of Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium coat the villi and assist with the final stages of digestion, protecting the intestinal lining from pathogens and toxins.

The Large Intestine: Absorbing Water and Eliminating Waste

After most nutrients are absorbed in the small intestine, any remaining indigestible food fibers and waste moves into the large intestine, which is made up of the colon, rectum, and anus. Here, water and electrolytes are absorbed from the waste to form solid stools.

The appendix is connected to the colon and secretes mucus to lubricate stools for easier elimination. It also harbors beneficial gut bacteria.

Stool moves through the colon by contractions called peristalsis, becoming more solid as water is removed. It is eliminated through the rectum and anus. Constipation can occur if stools move too slowly and become overly dry and hardened.

Tips for Improving Digestive Health

  • Chew food thoroughly – The more broken down food is initially, the less work for the rest of the digestive organs.
  • Avoid drinking large amounts of fluid with meals – Fluids dilute stomach acid needed for digestion. Drink fluids 30 minutes before or 1.5 hours after eating instead.
  • Eat smaller meals spaced 5-6 hours apart – Allows each organ time to fully digest food before more enters.
  • Eat lightly in the evening – Digestion slows down when sleeping.
  • Reduce irritants like spicy foods, dairy, or greasy foods if you have digestive issues.
  • Take probiotic supplements – Replenishes healthy gut flora.
  • Increase prebiotic fiber from foods like bananas, onions, garlic – Feeds probiotics.
  • Stay well hydrated between meals – Prevents constipation.
  • Exercise regularly – Supports healthy peristalsis.
  • Manage stress – Stress can alter gut motility and stomach acid secretion.
  • Sit in a squatting position on the toilet – Allows more complete elimination and prevents straining.
  • Increase stomach acid naturally with lemon juice, ginger, apple cider vinegar – Improves protein digestion.
  • Consider digestive enzymes with pancreatin, ox bile, lipase – Can improve nutrient absorption.
  • Take slippery elm powder – Soothes intestinal inflammation.

With a basic understanding of how our digestive system works, we can make simple dietary and lifestyle changes to keep it functioning in tip-top shape for improved health and wellbeing. Supporting our body’s innate ability to digest, absorb, and eliminate is one of the most impactful steps we can take to care for our gut and ourselves.

Proactive Steps To Care For Gut Health

The digestive process involves many different organs, enzymes, and stages as food gets broken down into molecules that can enter the bloodstream for use by the body. By eating a gut-friendly diet, managing stress, staying hydrated, exercising, and supporting nutrient absorption and elimination through dietary supplements, we can optimize the performance of our digestive tract.

Taking proactive steps to care for our gut health pays dividends through improved energy, immunity, mood, and whole-body wellness.

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