The joints of our bodies are true marvels. For most of our lives, they provide consistent and smooth operation, enabling us to do all of the things we enjoy doing, like running and playing, and all the things we need to do, like sitting, standing, bending, squatting. But our joints aren't made to last forever. The deterioration of time, injuries, and the effects of disease can all cause joint issues to develop. This is a minor inconvenience to some, but a major blow to others, robbing them of their mobility and ability to handle daily tasks easily.
However much joint pain impairs your life, it's probably a given that most of us have or will suffer from joint pain at some point. Whether it's short-lived or chronic, we all want to alleviate the pain so we can continue our activities in as normal a fashion as possible.
The temptation for many is to simply grab that bottle of triple strength, over-the-counter, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). But, long-term reliance on even non-prescription medications can have adverse side effects.
Overall, one of the best options you have, especially in today's holistic-centric, all-natural market, is to look for natural ingredients and dietary supplements that can provide pain relief, either by themselves or as companions to conventional medications.
Some Common Causes of Joint Pain
Joint pain can have many different causes.
- Exercise. Whether you’re working out for the first time in a while or pushing yourself to the limit to reach a new goal, exercising can cause some discomfort in the joints. For example, running on the treadmill can cause pain in the knees due to the impact.
- Tech neck- These days more and more people are wondering why their upper back and neck feel so sore. The cause? Tech neck (also known as poor posture). Working on a computer or browsing on your phone for numerous hours of the day can cause joint pain in the neck.
- Rheumatoid arthritis. This chronic condition causes swelling and pain in the joints, sometimes leading to disfiguring deformation in joints like those in the hands and fingers. Rheumatoid arthritis is an auto-immune disease that attacks the synovium, the lining of your joints.
- Osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is caused by wear and tear to the cartilage that cushions the space between your bones in the joints. It often progresses slowly beginning in middle age.
- Gout. A form of arthritis, gout usually affects the joints of the foot, particularly behind the big toe. It's caused by the build-up of uric acid crystals, most often triggered by diet, obesity, and alcohol use.
- Bursitis. This condition is caused by swelling in the bursa, small fluid-filled sacs that cushion our muscles or tendons. It's caused by overuse and most often occurs in the knee, shoulder, hip, and elbow joints. While resting the joint usually provides relief, bursitis can be a persistent condition that takes a lengthy amount of time to resolve.
- Tendonitis. Another overuse injury, tendonitis is an inflammation of the tendons that connect our muscles and bones. Repetition of motion, either in work or sports, is the primary cause. Addressing the inflammation and resting the joint is usually the best treatment.
The causes of joint pain listed above often are difficult to resolve quickly and often become chronic rather than being an acute problem. Finding a treatment regimen that works to alleviate the pain often takes more than one approach.
Why Choose Natural Remedies?
There are many OTC and prescribed medications that can be effective in treating the joint pain caused by the conditions listed above, but why not take advantage of multiple pain relief avenues like adding in a joint health supplement to help with overall joint support? Most natural ingredients are without a lot of side effects or interactions, and can be easily incorporated into your diet and daily routine.
Nine Natural Ingredients for Improved Joint Health
There are many natural ways to alleviate mild to moderate joint pain, including heat and cold therapies, acupuncture, physical therapy, and many others. Using natural ingredients as supplements or additions to your diet should certainly be investigated and considered as you examine ways to alleviate mild joint pain and work to improve overall joint health.
Here are nine natural ingredients that have a solid track record when it comes to supporting joint function and overall joint health:
- CBD. Short for cannabidiol, CBD has been touted as an effective supporter for a variety of body systems, including musculoskeletal health and sleep health. In particular, many are turning to CBD for mild pain relief, and several studies indicate that it shows promise in helping to support spinal health and function, too. There's no need to worry about psychoactive effects from CBD since it does not include the active hallucinogenic ingredient found in recreational and therapeutic marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). You'll find CBD in a variety of forms, including ingestible tincture oils and tablets, topical creams, and vapor oils.
- Turmeric. This spice has long been employed in Asian medicine to support musculoskeletal health. The active ingredient in turmeric, curcumin, has also been shown to have pain-alleviating effects. Turmeric is often added to the diet by employing it as a spice in your cooking, or by ingesting it as a tea or supplement, including ASYSTEM'S Natural Anti-Inflammatory Pills, which include both CBD from hemp as well as a version of curcumin, clinically-backed Turmacin®, for all-natural relief.
- Green Tea. The polyphenols in green tea are rich in anti-oxidants, suggesting potential benefits in improving autoimmune function. A recent review article suggests that there may be benefits to cartilage from green tea as well. Adding green tea to your regimen is as simple as brewing a morning or evening cup each day. Supplements are also readily available!
- Ginger. Another excellent nutrient with anti-inflammatory properties, ginger has been shown to suppress the body's production of inflammatory molecules called leukotrienes. Adding ginger to your diet as a spice is a tasty and effective way to reap the benefits of this natural ingredient.
- Garlic. Garlic contains diallyl disulfide. This anti-inflammatory compound helps reduce the swelling effects of cytokines. You can enjoy garlic as part of your diet, of course, but if you want a somewhat less pungent alternative, consider taking an odorless garlic supplement. Whatever way you take garlic, you'll be pleased to know that an experimental animal study found that garlic had a definitive supporting effect for joint and cartilage health.
- Glucosamine-chondroitin. These compounds are both components of cartilage, the cushioning material in our joints that deteriorates as a result of osteoarthritis. While there is no definitive evidence from studies as to the efficacy of these supplements in alleviating joint pain and reducing soreness, a review of literature by the Arthritis Foundation cites several promising studies. Glucosamine supplements are available in two different forms — glucosamine sulfate and glucosamine hydrochloride, with chondroitin supplements commonly seen as chondroitin sulfate.
- Fish Oil. Fish oil supplements are packed with polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids. These substances have been found to have anti-inflammatory properties and seem to be effective in alleviating joint pain and mild swelling, while also supporting joint and cartilage function, according to information published by the Arthritis Foundation.
- SAM-e. Otherwise known as S-adenosyl-l-methionine, SAM-e occurs naturally in the body. A randomized double-blind study comparing SAM-e with an OTC NSAID showed it was just as effective in the long term in alleviating pain and improving joint mobility function.
- Willow bark. The doctors of ancient Egypt prescribed willow bark for aches and pains. They didn't know that the active ingredient, salicylic acid, was the building block for a 19th-century wonder drug — aspirin! Just like aspirin, willow bark can alleviate pain, as a study of over 400 subjects proved. Willow bark extract supplements are readily available.
- Some other natural nutrients and supplements with either or both pain alleviating properties and the potential to improve joint and cartilage health include methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), boswellia (Indian frankincense), hyaluronic acid, plain old vitamin D3, and even your standard avocado.
How Much is Enough?
In the United States, natural ingredients and supplements aren't regulated and researched in the same way that medications are. The right amount of a supplement to take is often unclear unless clinical studies have been conducted, and recommendations can vary widely between sources and manufacturers.
When purchasing supplements, go with trusted companies and don't assume that what's in the bottle will be the same as what's in a similar bottle from another source.
It's best to begin using supplements and natural ingredients in small regular amounts to begin. Be patient and don't increase the amount you're taking quickly, hoping for fast results. Most natural ingredients yield their therapeutic results gradually, over a period of weeks or months. It's often helpful to keep a diary or log when using natural ingredients so you can track the results over time to note what positive effects they are exerting on your body.
Seek Professional Advice and Consider Side Effects
It's always important to remember that just because something is "natural," it doesn't mean that it is 100% safe. While none of the natural ingredients we've recommended in this article present any danger when taken in moderation, it's always wise to consult with your doctor or health practitioner before beginning to take supplements, particularly if you are already taking prescription medication for joint pain or other medical conditions.
When using natural ingredients therapeutically, you should be cognizant of the possibility of side effects and interactions with drugs. Interactions can occur. Fish oil, for example, can act as blood thinners and affect other medications when taken in high dosages. Do your research, ask questions, and keep your doctor in the loop.
Going Natural May Provide the Relief You’re Looking For
Joint pain can be a difficult condition to live with. To help relieve the pain you're suffering from, it's important to consider more than one treatment approach. Conventional medications can do a lot to improve your well-being, but there are also a lot of natural ingredients and high quality joint supplements you can add to your daily routine that can play a supporting role in joint health alongside your medications. In any case, seek your joint pain relief in a holistic way. A healthy lifestyle that relies on regular exercise, mental well-being, and a healthy diet can all help you attain the healthy joint you're looking for.