Contrary to popular belief, painful joints can occur at any age, and can have a dramatic impact on everyday life. If your joints are giving you grief, then it’s time to take a few simple steps to relieve the pain.
SAMe (S-adenosyl-methionine) is an amino acid naturally present in all the body’s cells. It’s found in protein-rich foods such as meat and fish. Researchers have shown that SAMe can be very effective at reducing joint pain and stiffness (1).
In practice: a daily dose of 1200mg is recommended for obtaining the benefits of SAMe (that’s 3 capsules a day of SAM-e 400mg). It often comes in enteric-coated capsules for controlled release in the gut and less risk of nausea.
Collagen is a protein essential for normal function: it ensures elasticity and cohesion of the body’s tissues. A six-month course of supplementation with a particular type of collagen (hydrolysate) provides significant reductions in joint pain and stiffness (2). A study also showed that taking collagen protected knee cartilage in arthritic patients (3). Collagen thus offers long-term benefits, with very few known side-effects.
In practice: a daily dose of 10-12 grams of collagen hydrolysate (preferablytype 2) should provide beneficial effects for painful joints.
MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) is an organosulfur compound present in small amounts in foods such as eggs, milk and cabbage. It maintains the body’s immune function and protects tissues such as cartilage and tendons. These properties make it highly effective at reducing joint pain, especially in the knees, and improving range of motion (4).
In practice: around 6-8 grams of MSM is the recommended daily dose.
In addition to its recognised antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits, Zingiber Officinalis has demonstrated protective effects for cartilage, as well as modest reductions in joint pain and its adverse effects on daily life (5).
In practice: Extracts of ginger standardised in gingerols are most effective at providing benefits.
We all know the value of cinnamon for adding flavour to apple-based desserts, but we often forget about its powerful anti-inflammatory properties which help reduce swelling in joints and relieve the accompanying pain (6).
In practice: 2 grams of cinnamon powder a day will provide significant anti-inflammatory benefits for the joints.
Boswellia Serrata resin is traditionally used in Indo-Chinese pharmacopoeias for treating painful joints and rheumatism in general. Boswellia’s efficacy comes from the anti-inflammatory properties of its boswellic acids. Scientists have demonstrated the pain-relief benefits of Boswellia resin and its acids in people with arthritis of the knee, as well as improved athletic performance in these same individuals (7).
In practice: for boswellia supplementation to be effective, it needs to have a significant amount of boswellic acid (notably AKBA, a particularly active acid), as is the case with our supplement Super Boswellia. In addition, boswellia supplements are best absorbed when taken with a lipid-rich meal.
Withania Somnifera is a plant known for its adaptogenic properties: it helps the body adapt to all types of stress and respond accordingly. Ashwagandha and its valuable withanolides help reduce joint pain and inflammation, and protect cartilage. Its active principles are particularly well-tolerated by the body (8).
In practice: a dose of between 300 and 600 grams of ashwagandha extract should improve joint health. It’s best to choose extracts that contain at least 1.5% withanolides (or 6 milligrams of withanolides a day).
Maritime pine bark contains flavonoids with powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects which reduce joint pain and stiffness and boost physical ability. Supplementing with pine bark extract could enable individuals suffering from arthritic pain to take lower dose and less frequent anti-inflammatory medication (9).
In practice: the recommended daily amount is 150 grams of pine bark extract, divided into three doses.
Excess weight is a key factor in arthralgia as it places too much mechanical pressure on the joints. It also causes excessive inflammation in the body which damages cartilage. If you are overweight or obese, adopting a healthy, balanced diet can help you lose weight and ease the pressure on your joints.
In practice: a balanced diet is founded on simple principles such as eating everything in moderation, to satisfy your hunger and no more. For those suffering from arthritis, fibre-rich foods are particularly recommended: fruit, vegetables and pulses.
Toning the muscles that support your joints helps to give them extra protection and prevent arthritis. For those who already have arthritis, remaining physically active can reduce joint immobility and aid health-beneficial weight loss.
In practice: engage in low-impact, endurance exercise to benefit fully from the positive effects of physical activity. Take care, as exercising too intensively can also weaken the joints.
A healthy lifestyle is essential for maintaining good joint health. If you suffer from painful joints, there are simple measures you can take to help you cope. However, if your symptoms persist, be sure to consult your GP. If you’d like to take a broad-spectrum supplement containing several of the ingredients mentioned in this article, we wholeheartedly recommend our Joint Pack.
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