Breaking the arthritis pain cycle

Natural ways to ease the symptoms and delay the on-set of debilitating arthritis pain.

Arthritis is a common disease for which unfortunately there is no cure – at the moment. In the area of complementary medicine much is being done to try and ease symptoms, delay on-set and one day, find a cure.

Though you might think that arthritis is one disease, in fact, there are around 100 different types. Arthritis is simply an umbrella term that refers to joint pain or joint disease.

Accounting for 95% of all reported arthritis cases in Australia are osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and gout.

Depending on the type and severity of the case, arthritis can interfere with life’s most basic activities like walking, driving or cooking. Symptoms range from pain, stiffness, inflammation and damage to joint cartilage (the tissue that covers the ends of bones, enabling them to move against each other.)

Given an ageing population, the number of people with arthritis is growing and current trends estimate that by 2050, seven million Australians will suffer from some form of arthritis.

Thankfully, research suggests that early intervention can delay the onset of the disease and could reduce the number of people with osteoarthritis by about 500,000 within 15 years.

There’s some exciting research being done around natural herbs and supplements to ease the pain, and the current wonder vitamin among researchers is vitamin K2.

Vitamin K2 to ease the pain.

There are two forms of Vitamin K. Vitamin K1 (phylloquinone) is found in plant foods such as kale, brussel sprouts, broccoli, spinach and cabbage, as well as soybean and canola oils. Vitamin K2 (menaquinone) is harder to factor in the Western diet.

It’s made by bacteria, which give fermented foods like cheese and the Japanese natto (a type of fermented soybean) a high vitamin K content. People who do not regulary eat salads or green, leafy vegetables are likely to be deficient in their intake of vitamin K.

Well known physician, Dr Ross Walker tell us ‘there is very good evidence that vitamin K2 maintains calcium in the bones for people with osteoporosis’. And now a recent study of vitamin K2 has shown that it may also significantly reduce the burden of rheumatoid arthritis.

The rheumatoid arthritis trial patients were given 100mcg daily of vitamin K2 for three months. All 82 participants, whether receiving vitamin K2 or not, maintained their current medically designed RA treatment programs. The researchers examined a number of markers of inflammation, joint damage, and bone metabolism.

Dr Walker says, ‘the study analyzing rheumatoid cartilage cells has shown a significant benefit on affecting a process known as ‘apoptosis’ which is better known as programmed cell death.” At this stage it is difficult to determine the exact nature of the response based merely on biochemical markers measured in the trial.

However, it is the decline of some of these clinical markers of rheumatoid arthritis activity that suggest further research into vitamin K2 as an adjunct support for RA treatment is warranted.

Glucosamine

Glucosamine, a well established favourite in the natural health industry, is also winning some acclaim from national associations. Janine Jackson, CEO of Arthritis and Osteoporosis NSW says, ‘Glucosamine is one of the building blocks of cartilage.

Recent studies have shown that the combination of glucosamine sulfate and chondroitin may be effective in slowing the breakdown of cartilage in the early stages of knee osteoarthritis’.

Though there are a number of contradicting studies about the effectiveness of glucosamine and chondroitin, Jannine says, ‘Most studies appear to indicate if you have osteoarthritis and your symptoms of pain are moderate to severe the glucosamine and chondroitin supplement may assist.’

Love the Yellow Spice!

Curcumin is the active ingredient in the yellow spice turmeric, which is common to indian dishes. Curcumin is the part of the root that gives turmeric its vibrant orange colour. Research is mounting to demonstrate curcumin’s power as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.

Curcumin’s anti-inflammatory properties are multi-faceted and it works on various levels to reduce inflammation. Clinical studies involving rheumatoid arthritis patients concurrently on non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) have shown reduced pain levels similar in each group, however the curcumin group appears to experience less side effects than those using NSAIDs.

So while a number of alternatives exist, it does pay to listen to some wise advise but recommended that everyone talks to the health professional before taking suppliments or over the counter medicines.

Foot Note: Go Vita Health Magazine 2015

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