Surely there must be all-natural treatments for arthritis that will make a big difference to the joint pain you are experiencing. And there are.
You may already have heard about turmeric and devil’s claw, two herbs commonly used for pain relief when someone has arthritis.
But let’s go beyond these two common natural treatments and add four others to the mix so you have several to choose from. You might also decide to combine some of them to strive for total relief of arthritic pain. The ones I’ve used that are the most effective for my patients over the years are listed below:
1) Diatomaceous Earth
2) Cat’s Claw
3) Omega 3 Fats/Fish Oil
4) Krill Oil
Let’s examine each one of these now.
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1) Diatomaceous Earth
Diatomaceous earth is a tannish cream-colored powder created by grinding diatoms and eliminating the high crystalline content so the product is edible. It’s found in oceans, seas, and by riverbeds. About eight years ago, I started testing it with my patients who had arthritis, old injuries that wouldn’t heal, and fresh wounds. It was able to relieve them of pain, increase their range of motion quickly (usually in just a few days), and heal wounds without a scar. The dose I used was one heaped tablespoon twice daily.
Italian scientists at the University of Padova believe they have isolated the substance in diatoms (found in diatomaceous earth) that is responsible for anti-inflammatory activity, and thus could be the reason why those who take diatomaceous earth rave about the pain relief experienced in their joints. The diatoms produce a sulfoglycolipid that does all the good work for those who have arthritis. This substance allows microflora to be produced that can withstand high temperatures and “matures” the mud to make it suitable for use in warm mud packs that are placed onto aching joints.
2) Cat’s Claw
Cat’s claw is a herb from the Peruvian rainforest that’s a vine. It’s long been known for its effects on the immune system and as an anti-inflammatory agent. In some studies, it tests higher for anti-inflammatory effects than current medications used for the same issue.
Cat’s claw herb reduces inflammatory mediators such as TNF alpha. This is one of the ways that it causes pain relief in those with osteoarthritis. In a medical study out of Peru, doctors tested 30 patients with osteoarthritis of the knee with Cat’s claw over four weeks and compared them to 15 patients who didn’t get the herb.
Cat’s claw had no deleterious effects on blood or liver function or other health parameters. Knee pain from movement and activity were decreased within the first week of therapy. The herb quenched free radicals and inhibited TNF alpha production. It also reduced the amount of prostaglandins associated with inflammation. The doctors concluded that cat’s claw is an effective treatment for osteoarthritis.
It’s not only osteoarthritis that cat’s claw helps. In an Austrian university hospital, 40 rheumatoid arthritis patients received cat’s claw herb extract or a placebo for 24 weeks. The difference in results was quite remarkable with a reduction of the number of painful joints down to 53.2% in those who took the herb compared to only 24% in the placebo group.
The dose I use with patients is two 500 mg capsules two to three times daily.
3) Omega 3 Fats/Fish Oil
The two types of omega 3 fats most important for health are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Both these are found in oily fish and fish oil supplements. They inhibit parts of the inflammation process, including the attraction of white blood cells to the joints, the cells that adhere to the joint that cause the inflammation, and the actual white blood cell-adhesion interaction. EPA and DHA also create inflammatory resolving mediators called resolvins, protectins, and maresins. These two also stabilize plaques in the arteries.
According to research studies, omega-3 fats have been shown to reduce morning stiffness and the number of tender and swollen joints in those with rheumatoid arthritis. One Iranian study showed a 50% improvement of tender joints of 89% of the study participants was seen and the average erythocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) decreased from 39 to 16. There was a notable reduction in pain after 12 weeks of supplementation.
In Greece, researchers evaluated numerous studies to find out the bottom line on how omega 3 fats work for arthritis patients. They tested inflammatory markers and found that the most affected marker was leukotriene B4. Triglyceride levels were also reduced.
4) Krill Oil
Krill oil is another effective joint pain reliever for those with arthritis. Krill are small shrimp-like plankton crustacean that live in the open seas. They’re a favorite food of baleen whales, fish and birds.
Interestingly, in one German study, researchers showed that levels of omega 3 fats caused much higher levels in the blood from other form of omega 3 fatty acids, than when compared to Krill Oil. In natural fish oil, the omega 3 fats EPA and DHA are bound to triacylglycerides. Many fish oil capsules contain the fatty acids bound in ethyl-ester form or are re-esterified.
The krill oil omega 3 fats were more bioavailable to the body than other types of fish oil.
There are the 4 natural ways to relief arthritis pain.
However, even when taking these natural remedies I always recommend my patients to lose weight, if needed.
Losing weight is a good way to take pressure off the joints and relieves pain in all joints, not just the arthritic ones. Amazingly, if you’re obese, all you have to do is begin the process of losing weight and pain relief is right around the corner. Losing 10% of your body weight will create enough pain relief.
This makes sense when you look at the actual scientific data. When you lose one pound, the pressure in the knee joint decreases by 4 pounds. A weight loss of 10 pounds would be 40 pounds less pressure on the knee joint. I’ve found that in many people a decrease of 10-15 pounds of the 40+ pounds that the person needs to lose is still enough to bring pain relief to the joints.
After you get the first 15 pounds off, keep going! The next 20 pounds off will allow you to tie your shoes once again.
Here’s a chart to help you calculate how much weight loss you might need, based on your present weight, and the associated decreased pressure on your knee joints.
If you are looking for a good quality omega-3 supplement, I highly recommend Ben’s Wild Antarctic Krill Oil if you’re looking for relief of joint pain and omega-3 fats that keep your blood flowing without any clots. Because it’s sourced from the Antarctic, it’s a lot safer than other omega 3 sources.
Ben’s Wild Antarctic Krill Oil also is not heated. Heating omega-3 fats changes its composition and adds double bonds to the polyunsaturated fats, thus interfering with its effectiveness. There’s also no chemical processing done with the krill. They aren’t bleached or treated in any way.
You can expect that the krill in Ben’s Antarctic Krill Oil to be pure and clean – and more effective than other omega 3 sources you are using right now. The dose is on the label. Here’s a link to the Ben’s Antarctic Krill Oil.
Dr. Donna Schwontkowski received a Doctorate in Chiropractic Medicine (D.C.), from the National College of Chiropractic, Lombard, IL, in Dec. 1990. In addition to running a medical practice, Dr Donna has had a long and distinguished career as a medical teacher, both running courses at various universities and also as a published author of several books and as a television presenter on health issues.
Hardin, S.R. Cat’s claw: an Amazonian vine decreases inflammation in osteoarthritis. Complement Ther Clin Pract 2007 Feb; 13(1):25-8.
Mur, E., et al. Randomized double blind trial of an extract from the pentacyclic alkaloid chemotype of Uncaria tomentosa for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. J Rheumatol 2002 Apr; 29(4):678-81.
Piscoya, J., et al. Efficacy and safety of freeze-dried cat’s claw in osteoarthritis of the knee: mechanisms of action of the species Uncaria guianensis. Inflamm Res 2001 Sep;5(9):442-8.
Tolomia, C., et al. Colonization by diatoms and antirheumatic activity of thermal mud. Cell Biochem Funct 1999 Mar;17(1):29-33.
Schuchardt, J.P., et al. Incorporation of EPA and DHA into plasma phospholipids in response to different omega-3 fatty acid formulations – a comparative bioavailability study of fish oil vs krill oil. Lipids Health Dis 2011 Aug 22;10.
Rajaei, E., et al. The effect of omega-3 fatty acids in patients with active rheumatoid arthritis receiving DMARDs therapy: Double-blind randomized controlled trial. Glob J Health Sci 2015 Nov 3;8(7):18-25.
Gioxan, A., et al. Intake of w-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in patients with rheumatoid arthritis: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Nutrition 2018 Jan;45:114-124.
Calder, P.C. Omega-3 fatty acids and inflammatory processes: from molecules to man. Biochem Soc Trans 2017 Oct 15;45(5):1105-1115.
About Dr. Donna Schwontkowski
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