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Natural vs. Conventional Arthritis Remedies

Posted Aug 16 2012 9:05am

Arthritis is a degenerative disease affecting the joints and bones. Its main symptoms are joint pain and inflammation.

There are different forms of arthritis. The most common ones are rheumatoid arthritis which is caused by autoimmune damage to the cartilage; osteoarthritis which is caused by age and sports injury; and gout arthritis which is caused by increased deposition of uric acid.

Arthritis cannot be cured but it can be controlled. The management of arthritis may focus on treating the symptoms, on slowing down the degeneration of the cartilage or on repairing the damage done.


Discussed below are some of the most important conventional drugs and traditional remedies used in the treatment of arthritis.

Conventional Arthritis Medications

Analgesics and NSAIDs

Analgesics are often the first-line treatment of arthritis. Doctors usually turn to drugs such as acetaminophen and aspirin to relieve the early pains experienced by arthritis patients.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are also painkillers but they reduce the swelling of joints and arthritic limbs too. Common examples of NSAIDs prescribed for arthritis patients include ibuprofen and celecoxib.
When the pain worsens as arthritis becomes severe and its damage gets extensive, the painkillers of choice are opioids such as tramadol. These potent analgesics have addictive potentials and are not recommended for long-term use.

Corticosteroids

Corticosteroids are anti-inflammatory drugs with no analgesic properties. They mimic and/or increase the production of cortisol.

Cortisol is the major natural anti-inflammatory compound produced in the body. It is secreted from the adrenal gland in response to inflammation.

Prednisolone is the most common corticosteroid prescribed for arthritis patients. It is effective for reducing the swelling at arthritic joints. However, since it is a steroidal drug, long-term use is not advised.
DMARDs

Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs or DMARDs slow down the progression of arthritis disease especially by arresting the degeneration of cartilages.

Hydroxychloroquine and methotrexate are the two common DMARDs prescribed for arthritis patients. These drugs do have serious side effects and they are only a stopgap since cartilage degeneration worsens when they are withdrawn.

Natural Arthritis Remedies

Glucosamine, Chondroitin Sulfate, Hyaluronic acid and Collagen 
These 4 arthritis remedies work together to rebuild the cartilage. They are also all naturally produced in the body.

Glucosamine is an amino sugar that forms the backbone of glycosaminoglycans. Chondroitin sulfate and hyaluronic acid are glycosaminoglycans but while chondroitin carries sulfate groups, hyaluronic acid is non-sulfated. Collagen, specifically, type II collagen, is the protein from which all connective tissues including the cartilage are made of.

All of these natural remedies not only slow down and stop cartilage degeneration, they also contribute to the regeneration of cartilages. They do not produce immediate relief from joint pain and inflammation but their effects are corrective and longer lasting.

MSM, CMO and SAMe
MSM or methylsulfonylmethane is a natural sulfur source in the body. Its sulfur is needed to create sulfide links in proteins. Therefore, it is needed in the formation of collagen.

CMO or cetyl myristoleate is a relatively new anti-arthritis remedy. It was first found in mice and it is believed to protect them from arthritis. CMO relieves joint pain and inflammation. It compares well with NSAIDs and has been sold as replacements for glucosamine-chondroitin combinations.

SAMe or S-adenosyl methionine is another naturally produced compound with similar activities to CMO.

Bromelain, Rutin and Trypsin
Bromelain and trypsin are enzymes.

While Bromelain is obtained from the stems of pineapple, trypsin is found in human gastrointestinal tract. These protein-digesting enzymes have anti-inflammatory properties which is the result of breaking down proinflammatory chemokines in the body.

Rutin is one of the many citrus bioflavonoid glycosides available. It has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

B Complex and Vitamins C, D3 and E
These vitamins supplement other arthritis remedies. Most of them have anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Vitamin D3 also improves the absorption of calcium in the body while vitamin C also converts proline to hydroxyproline, a precursor of collagen.

Ginger and Turmeric
Ginger and turmeric are related rhizomes.

Both of them block the production of leukotrienes and prostaglandins and other proinflammatory factors such as tissue necrosis factor-alpha or TNF-alpha. They are also antioxidants.

The active ingredient in turmeric is called curcumin. Besides having all the properties described above, curcumin also blocks the enzymes such as elastase, hyaluronidase and collagenase which do break down cartilages. It is also known to speed up the production of type II collagen.

Boswellia Extract, Cat’s Claw and Devil’s Claw
Extracts of boswellia, cat’s claw and devil’s claw reduce arthritis pain and inflammation by inhibiting prostaglandins and leukotrienes too. They also have antioxidant properties.

Calcium, Magnesium and Boron
Calcium is needed for the mineralization of the bone. However, some experts argue that magnesium is even more important in this role. This is because magnesium is directly responsible for driving the mineralization of the bone with calcium.

Therefore, even when calcium levels are high and magnesium levels are low, mineralization proceeds poorly. In fact, high calcium and low magnesium levels may be bad for joints. This is because the excess calcium is then deposited at the joints instead of on the bones.

Boron is another mineral needed for optimal bone health.

It prevents calcium loss from the bones and slows down the degeneration of cartilages. Boron works by stimulating the release of hormones such as estrogen and hormone-like compounds such as vitamin D.

Joint Support Formulas
Joint support formulas are all-natural remedies for arthritis. They are mostly oral formulations although a few of them can also include topical creams for immediate relief.

They are safe to use and produce far fewer side effects than conventional arthritis drugs.

Most joint support formulas produce long-lasting effects but these effects may take a few weeks to begin. This is because, unlike conventional medications that simply treat symptoms, joint support formulas provide long-term care and support as well as drive the process of regeneration in damaged cartilages.

The overall result of these formulas is improved bone and joint health.

A prime example of joint support formula is Exomine. Its active ingredients include anti-arthritis herbs such as the extracts of cat’s claw, grape seed, ginger, turmeric and Boswellia serrata; vitamins and minerals such as vitamins C and B3 as well as boron; and natural compounds such as glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, MSM, hyaluronic acid and Biocell Collagen II which are needed to rebuild cartilages.

With a formula like Exomine’s, the focus on treatment is not on short-term management of symptoms but rather on long-term treatment of the underlying causes of arthritis.

About The Author: Brad Chase is the CEO of ProgressiveHealth.com. A site that provides information about health concerns and products like Exomine (a  joint pain remedy ).

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