According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 22.7 percent of adults in the United States had been told by a health professional that they have arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis or a related disorder. That number is projected to grow, reaching an estimated 26 percent of U.S. adults by the year 2040.
As consumers, we are playing a more active role in managing our care and the care of our loved ones. Rather than just looking to conventional prescription medications as treatment options, we are looking more and more to natural therapies and supplements to help us as we age.
Here are three supplements with science-backed results that can help ease the symptoms associated with arthritis and related conditions.
The boswellia serrata tree grows commonly in India. The gum from the tree contains boswellic acid, a compound with anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties.
In a 2003 study, subjects with knee osteoarthritis who took boswellia for eight weeks reported decreased knee pain and swelling and were able to walk greater distances with improved knee flexion than subjects who received a placebo. The study subjects took 333 milligrams of boswellia three times daily.
Ginger is obtained from the rhizomes of the Zingiber officinale plant and has been used since ancient times for its anti-inflammatory benefits and in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Some study findings suggest that ginger may work as well as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to reduce pain and inflammation.
Researchers also believe that the plant-based compounds in ginger can provide relief from rheumatoid arthritis symptoms and possibly stop the bone destruction associated with the disease.
Some studies have found ginger eases arthritis symptoms at doses of 250 milligrams given four times daily.
Cat’s Claw (Uncaria tomentosa) is a woody vine native to South and Central America. The root and bark of the plant have been used medicinally for hundreds of years to treat conditions including arthritis and other inflammatory disorders.
An Austrian study found that subjects with active rheumatoid arthritis using cat’s claw in a randomized, doubled-blind study found that joint swelling and pain were reduced by more than 50 percent compared to subjects who were given placebo. The study subjects continued their prescribed antirheumatic therapy while taking cat’s claw.
The University of Maryland Medical Center’s Complementary and Alternative Medicine Guide recommends talking to your health care provider about a dosage of cat’s claw that’s right for you.
Karen Morse, MPH, is a freelance health and nutrition writer. In her free time, she enjoys Pilates, exploring nearby hiking trails and cooking up fresh, seasonal eats in the kitchen. Her work has appeared in Clean Eating, Weight Watchers, YouBeauty.com and others.