Here are substances safer than NSAIDs and pharmaceuticals.
Food [I know, this part isn't Supplements, but I wanted to keep all the information together, and couldn't figure out where to put the resulting page.]
- One of the most promising general methods of treating inflammation is through balancing the micro-hormones called eicosanoids (for example prostaglandins) by
- Using protein instead of carbohydrate as your main energy source; see
- Reducing consumption of meat, dairy and poultry and getting more protein instead from fish and soy
- Eating the right fatty acids (see Omega 3 Fatty acids)
- Eliminating consumption of the nightshade plant family (including potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and tobacco)
- Celery is anti-inflammatory. (See Reference 4)
- Identifying food sensitivities and avoiding those foods. This prevents incompletely-digested particles from getting into tissues where white blood cells attack them as foreign bodies (creating inflammation, and possible permanent damage).
- Gus J. Prosch's experimental Anti-Amoebic Treatment for Rheumatoid Disease. This has long been used in Germany for the treatment of OA. It contains a variety of compounds that actively reduce inflammation and promote healing.
- Red wine. See Resveratrol (below).
Vitamins and Minerals
- Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) a necessary co-factor in the biosynthesis of the anti-inflammatory adrenal glucocorticoid hormones.
- Vitamin C
- reduces free radicals and histamine levels
- reduces the activity of pro-inflammatory adhesion molecules
- also necessary for synthesis of collagen and other joint components.
- Competes with blood sugar to enter cells (the two molecules require the same transporter protein); this is useful in improving glucose metabolism and combating diabetes (which increases inflammation)
- Raffelock recommends 1,000 mg 3 times a day
- Vitamin B3,
- Vitamin E
- synergistic with Vitamin E
- Raffelock recommends 50 to 400 mcg per day.
- Vitamin K, calcium regulator
Other Nutritional Supplements
- Superoxide Dismutase (SOD)
- Plant sterols
- Pygeum africanum
- "Contains sterols that inhibit the production of inflammatory prostaglandins and reduce edema." (Whitaker, p. 2)
- This herb has mainly been used for prostate problems, like the other plant sterols, perhaps it's also useful for other inflammatory conditions.
- Interesting collection of studies at the HerbMed Pygeum page.
- Pharmacology info better at the Pygeum page at the Body Wise International site.
- Others: Whitaker cites Bouic PJ. Sterols/sterolins, the natural, non-toxic immunomodulators and their role in the control of rheumatoid arthritis. Newsletter of the Arthritis Trust of America 1998: Summer edition: "sterols have anti-inflammatory capabilities similar to that of the steroid drug cortisone but with none of its negative effects."
- Products (these are ones Whitaker recommends):
- Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM)
- necessary for cartilage synthesis and repair
- alone or with glucosamine.
- With the problems I have making use of ingested sulfur, I've avoided this but had good results with Aloe Vera applied topically. A lot of it not the commercial products, but raw leaf.
- Methionine/SAMe: in addition to fighting inflammation, methionine (a sulfur-bearing amino acid) is necessary for building cartilage.
- Omega 3 fatty acids (EPA/DHA/GLA): Fish oils and medicinal seed oils (eg black currant, evening primrose, borage) contribute to anti-inflammatory prostaglandin PGE 1 and PGE3 pathways, and inhibit the inflammatory PGE2 pathway.
- Gus J. Prosch, Jr. prescribes
- 100-1500 mg EPA and
- 700-1000 mg DHA per day
- [...need a lot more on EFAs and fat metabolism]
- Quercetin - but not if you have a COMT SNP: Inhibition of Catechol O-Methyltransferase-catalyzed O-Methylation of 2- and 4-Hydroxyestradiol by Quercetin.
- Glycosaminoglycans (synthesis requires sulfur):
- Boiling bones in water releases glucosamine.
- improves wound healing, reduces headaches, eases inflammatory bowel disease. (Challem p. 132)
- Glucosamine Choride
- Glucosamine Sulfate
- (I'm steering clear of this because of the sulfur)
- 500 mg twice daily. More can cause rapid cell aging.
- take it continuously
- Other Glycosaminoglycans:
- Chondroitin sulfate (available in soup made from boiling bones in water)
- bovine and shark cartilage,
- sea cucumber.
- Raffelock says "all these are less effective than glucosamine sulfate because of poorer absorption."
- CoEnzyme Q10, for its anti-inflammatory properties
- Ashwagandha (Withania somniferum)
- Black Elderberry (Sambucus nigra L.)
- Boswellia Serrata [all the following are from an ad; need to look for better info]
- James Braly, MD says it produces
- reduction of joint swelling
- restoration and improvement of blood supply to inflamed joints
- pain relief
- increased mobility
- amelioration of morning stiffness
- in addition it slows down the leukotriene cycle
- Bromelain (next to last paragraph)
- pineapple enzymes.
- blocks production of kinin (which contributes to inflammation)
- Celery seed extract (See Reference 4).
- essential ingredient of the spice turmeric
- no known toxicity.
- Devil's claw
- Ginger Root
- [according to the same ad...]
- increases circulation
- reduces inflammation
- Studies on ginger oil show it specifically inhibiting enzymes contributing to OA (Raffelock).
- Horse Chestnut (Aesculus Hippocastanum)
- Nettle Leaf (Urtica dioica).
- Much used in Germany
- contains phytoestrogen that I think gave me a liver attack
- Pygeum (see plant sterols, above)
- Yucca leaves
- Wow! I just did a search at Purple Sage for "anti-inflammartory" and got 33 herbs, most of which aren't on this list yet.
Keeping in mind the need to balance hormones, increasing the levels of these may be indicated:
- Natural Progesterone. Excess estradiol and lack of progesterone worsens OA.
- Thyroid hormone. People with hypothyroidism (low thyroid) have an increased risk of OA.
- Anabolic hormones like testosterone, DHEA, and growth hormone
- "Alternatives to NSAIDs for Osteoarthritis" by Dean Raffelock, in the November, 2001 issue of the John R. Lee, MD Medical Letter (pp5-6).
- Dr. Julian Whitaker's Health & Healing; Your Definitive Guide to Alternative Health and Anti-Aging Medicine, Vol. 12, No. 8 (Aug 02) "The Many Benefits of Plant Sterols," pp.1-3.
- Mediators of Inflammation, on the site of the Pathology Department of the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario, Canada.
- Herbs in Rheumatology, by Jim Duke, PhD, on the site of Willner Pharmacy, "the oldest and largest nutritionally oriented Pharmacy in North America"
For More information
- ILAR (International League of Associations for Rheumatology)
- The Inflammation Syndrome, by Jack Challem. John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken NJ, 2003.
- My pages
Last updated 25 September 2003