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Prescription drugs are helpful to many, especially those with serious chronic pain from trauma. However, in many cases they are not needed and can be toxic and have short-term negative effects on the liver, kidneys and digestive tract. When taken over the long term, pharma meds can cause serious organ damage.
Natural supplements are made from the stuff of nature. This includes leaves, twigs, berries, bark, roots, vines, vitamins and minerals. If you understand herbology, you can — as many people in traditional cultures do — adjust your diet to include the herbals in your meals. However, for painful and chronic conditions, that would mean consuming herbals at every meal. Instead, for most of us, taking these ingredients as supplements to your diet is the way to go.
Boswellia serrata has been used as a traditional Ayurvedic remedy for inflammatory conditions. It is extracted from the gum of the Indian boswellia tree and has been used for centuries to treat joint pain and inflammation. In fact, research now shows that the acids contained within boswellia extract stop the formation of immune cells known as leukotrienes, which are responsible for inflammation. This action then allows blood to flow unobstructed to the joints for healing and improved mobility.
Direct from the Kalahari Desert comes devil’s claw, a claw-shaped fruit that has been used for centuries by South African tribes to treat arthritis pain. Numerous studies carried out on devil’s claw show it to have powerful natural properties similar to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). In fact, the journal Phytomedicine reported that this herb is just as effective as the osteoarthritis medication Diacerein. What’s more, studies carried out in both France and Germany point to evidence that devil’s claw’s effects are similar to cortisone.
Du Huo Ji Sheng Wan
Du Huo Ji Sheng Wan is among the most powerful herbal patent formulas of traditional Chinese medicine. Its 14 combined herbs relieve the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), rheumatism in general and sciatica through its action of “dispersing wind and dampness.” In other words, it inhibits inflammation and pain while improving the ability of microphages to clear inflammatory tissue and increase blood circulation to reduce pain and swelling.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
The omega-3 fatty acids found in abundance in fish oil derived from cod, trout, herring, salmon and other cold-water fish are proven to reduce inflammation. Research from Cardiff University in Great Britain shows that cod liver oil not only relieves pain but also helps alleviate morning stiffness, joint tissue regeneration and some of the difficulties of autoimmune disease like RA, lupus and psoriasis.
Paractin is a clinically proven extract of the medicinal herb Andrographis paniculata that helps correct an imbalanced immune system. It helps cut off the signals that cause inflammation and significantly decreases joint pain. That makes it a great ingredient in supplements for arthritis and multiple sclerosis.
Rutin is a flavonoid composed of the flavanol quercetin and the disaccharide rutinose. Rutin is found naturally in a variety of plants. Dietary sources include black tea and apple peels. Its anti-inflammatory potential is attributed mainly to its powerful antioxidant activity. It also helps maintain the levels of reduced glutathione, a powerful biological antioxidant. The combination of these activities helps to minimize the cellular damage and inflammation caused by various oxidative processes.
SAMe (S-Adenosyl methionine)
SAMe is one of the natural chemicals made within the body that science has been able to duplicate in a lab and make into a supplement. Studies have shown SAMe supplementation to be comparable to the pain-relieving effects of Celebrex by the second month of taking the product but without the side effects. The SAMe chemical has a role in pain, depression and liver disease. It has been shown effective when used for relieving the symptoms of osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, bursitis, Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), migraine headache, depression and more.
Thunder God Vine
China, Korea and Japan grow a vine known as thunder god, which is one of the powerful natural relievers of arthritis, especially RA. Is has properties that regulate the immune system and reduce inflammation, thus being good for autoimmune and inflammatory diseases.
How to Take Natural Supplements
Because natural supplements are made of organically existing substances, they affect the body in gentle ways. The ingredients within natural supplements often do not work as quickly as drugs do at relieving pain or inflammation. However, they do offer acute relief in the short term while working more powerfully over time to create a gradual and lasting change in condition. In other words, supplements need to build up in your system to get to a level where more significant change occurs. That is why you often need to take them several times per day over periods of weeks and months or even longer.
The best way to take supplements is by following the guidelines on their labels. These guidelines often represent minimal doses. For acute conditions, the doses can be increased and sometimes doubled or tripled. However, in high doses even natural substances can become toxic in the body. It is best to consult with an educated healthcare provider with a background in nutrition and supplements, such as a naturopathic physician, a doctor of traditional Chinese medicine or an Ayurvedic specialist. Generally, you should meet with someone who follows studies on how these substances work and is knowledgeable about interactions that supplements can cause with any prescription medication you may be taking.