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Natural Remedies for Osteoarthritis

written by: Diana Cooper • edited by: Leigh A. Zaykoski • updated: 5/16/2010

Medications (like NSAIDs) only relieve symptoms. Most natural remedies for osteoarthritis relieve symptoms and help repair damage. Find causes of osteoarthritis and learn what you can do to safely treat this painful disease.

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    Causes of Osteoarthritis

    Osteoarthritis - Image courtesy of the National Library of Medicine (NLM) Osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease, is the most common of all joint diseases.

    The cause of osteoarthritis in the primary category is "wear and tear" on the joints over time with no apparent predisposing factor. This usually occurs after the age of 50 or 60.

    Causes of osteoarthritis in the secondary category are associated with some predisposing abnormality, such as genetics, abnormal cartilage, or trauma.

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    Natural Remedies for Osteoarthritis

    Normally, osteoarthritis (whether in the early stages or late stages) can be halted and even reversed.

    Nutrition

    Maintain a normal weight. Excess weight increases stress on weight-bearing joints.

    Eat a healthy diet. Include sufficient amounts of dietary fiber and flavonoid-rich berries. Avoid bad fats, simple carbohydrates (sugars), and foods from the nightshade family (including peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, and potatoes).

    Eat foods high in antioxidants. Antioxidants, especially vitamin C and E, protect cartilage and enhance the formation of cartilage.

    Supplements

    Glucosamine has been shown to have better long-term results than NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) when treating osteoarthritis, even though glucosamine has no pain relieving effects and only very little anti-inflammatory effects. NSAIDs only relieve symptoms (as the disease progresses) while glucosamine relieves symptoms and repairs damaged joints.

    Chondroitin sulfate and cartilage preparations (like shark cartilage) are not recommended because they are poorly absorbed.

    Vitamin A, vitamin B6, zinc, copper, and boron are other important nutrients for osteoarthritis. A deficiency in any of these nutrients can speed up joint degeneration.

    Botanicals

    The following have anti-inflammatory effects:

    • bromelain (found in pineapple)
    • curcumin
    • ginger
    • boswellia serrata.

    Capsicum, a compound found in cayenne peppers, applied topically to the affected area can help reduce swelling and pain. You can apply a cream containing 0.025% or 0.075% capsaicin up to 4 times a day.

    Physical Medicine

    The following natural remedies for osteoarthritis can help relieve symptoms and improve joint mobility:

    • physical therapy
    • acupuncture
    • massage
    • thermal baths.
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    Disclaimer

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