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8 Doctor Researched Natural Remedies for Joint Pain

Natural Remedies for Joint Pain

Arthritis is characterized by inflammation of the joints, resulting in pain, stiffness, and a decreased range of motion. Most forms of joint pain are a result of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Osteoarthritis causes cartilage to thin, break down, and wear out, while rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that affects the lining of joints. Thankfully, there are a variety of natural joint pain remedies that can help you reduce symptoms of arthritis and support a better quality of life. Here are some of the best natural remedies for joint pain relief that we have found.

1. Chondroitin

Chondroitin is a naturally occurring substance found in the joints and cartilage throughout the body. As a supplement, chondroitin may offer effective joint pain relief.

In a meta-review, researchers wanted to compare the effects of glucosamine, chondroitin, both glucosamine and chondroitin, acetaminophen, and celecoxib in relation to knee and hip osteoarthritis. The meta-analysis identified 61 randomized controlled trials involving hip and knee osteoarthritis. Although oral celecoxib, the traditional treatment for joint pain, was found to be the most effective therapy for relieving hip and knee pain and improving physical function, the combination of glucosamine and chondroitin was a close second.1

In a separate study, 1,583 patients with symptomatic knee osteoarthritis were assigned to receive 1,500 mg of glucosamine per day, 1,200 mg of chondroitin per day, both glucosamine and chondroitin, 200 mg of celecoxib per day, or a placebo for a 24-week period. While the combination of glucosamine and chondroitin did not significantly reduce pain in the overall group, exploratory analyses suggest that glucosamine and chondroitin may be effective for the subgroup of patients with moderate to severe knee pain.2

2. Glucosamine

Similar to chondroitin, glucosamine is a naturally occurring compound commonly found in human cartilage. While it can be supplemented on its own, it is frequently combined with chondroitin in many natural joint pain remedies.

In a three-year randomized, placebo-controlled trial, researchers aimed to examine the long-term effects of glucosamine over the course of three years and determine its potential to change the progress of joint structure as well as the symptoms related to knee osteoarthritis. The study included 202 patients diagnosed with knee osteoarthritis. These patients were randomized to receive either a daily placebo or 1,500 mg of oral glucosamine sulfate per day over a period of three years. Researchers measured changes in radiographic minimum joint space in the medial compartment of the tibiofemoral joint and evaluated any general changes to symptoms.

Results of the study showed that the placebo group experienced progressive narrowing of the joint space of about 0.19 mm, while the glucosamine sulfate group showed no significant changes to the joint space. While symptoms improved modestly with placebo use, symptoms improved by an average of 20 to 25 percent in the glucosamine sulfate group with significant differences on subscales measuring pain, function, and stiffness. This study shows that long-term treatment with glucosamine sulfate may help to slow down the progression of knee osteoarthritis and suggests that it has the potential to modify the disease.3

3. Turmeric

Turmeric is a common spice that has been studied for its potential anti-inflammatory effects. In a systematic review and meta-analysis, researchers systematically reviewed randomized clinical trials involving the use of turmeric and curcumin-enriched extracts in the treatment of arthritis symptoms. The search yielded 29 results, eight of which met the researchers’ specific criteria. In three of the studies, turmeric use showed statistically significant reductions in pain visual analog scores (PVAS) compared to placebos.

Furthermore, five studies showed compared PVAS scores between turmeric and traditional pain medications and found there to be no significant difference. These studies found turmeric to be as effective as traditional pain medications at reducing PVAS scores.4

Turmeric’s main mechanism of action involves its natural anti-inflammatory properties. In a rat study, researchers isolated a curcumin-containing turmeric extract and administered this extract to rats with streptococcal cell wall-induced arthritis. Researchers measured the extract’s efficacy through clinical and histological examination and through measurements of bone density.

Results of the study found that the turmeric extract significantly inhibited joint inflammation and periarticular joint destruction by preventing the local activation of nuclear factor kappa B, a protein complex that plays an important role in inflammation. This supports the use of turmeric dietary supplements for joint pain and arthritis.5

4. Boswellia serrata Extract

Boswellia serrata is another botanical that presents natural anti-inflammatory properties. In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, researchers aimed to examine the efficacy and safety of Boswellia serrata extract compared to a placebo. A group of 30 patients received either the Boswellia serrata extract or a placebo for a period of eight weeks. After the initial treatment, the patients were given a washout period and were then given the opposite treatment for eight weeks.

The results of the study found that all of the patients receiving the Boswellia serrata extract treatment reported improved knee flexion, increased walking distance, and decreased knee pain, along with a reduced frequency in knee swelling. Aside from minor gastrointestinal effects, the extract was well-tolerated by all patients. This suggests that Boswellia serrata extract may present a potential osteoarthritis joint pain treatment.6

5. Fish Oil

Fish oil, which is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, is another supplement frequent associated with reduced inflammation. In a double-blind, randomized study, 49 patients with active rheumatoid arthritis were given two different doses of fish oil or one dose of olive oil. One group (the low dose group) received omega-3 fatty acid supplements containing 27 mg/kg of EPA and 18 mg/kg of DHA. Another group (the high dose group) received 54 mg/kg of EPA and 36 mg/kg of DHA. The final group received 6.8 mg of olive oil.

At the end of the 24 weeks of study, researchers noted significant improvements in the number of tender and swollen joints in both the low and high dose groups. Olive oil was also found to present some changes to immune function. However, the study ultimately suggests that supplementing with fish oil and omega-3 fatty acids may prevent clinical benefits for those with active rheumatoid arthritis.7

6. Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM)

Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) is a compound that is naturally found in plants and cow’s milk and may help with joint pain relief. In a study, researchers looked at the potential suppressive effect of MSM on type II collagen-induced arthritis in mice. After the mice were induced with arthritis, researchers placed the mice on continuous treatment involving 2.5 percent MSM in the drinking water.

Results of the study found that the arthritic score of mice receiving MSM treatment was significantly lower than that of the control mice. The MSM mice also showed a lower number of immune cells in inguinal lymph nodes. This all suggests that MSM may modify the immune response and lower inflammation.8

7. Topical Menthol

Menthol has been suggested to offer pain relieving properties when applied directly to the skin, and it may be one of the effective home remedies for joint pain. A study examined the effects of topical menthol on patients diagnosed with knee osteoarthritis. Twenty volunteers with knee osteoarthritis agreed to complete two data collection visits one week apart. During each visit, the subjects performed the same functional tasks and reported any knee pain experienced during the tasks. The subjects randomly received either 5 mL of 3.5% menthol gel or 5 mL of an inert placebo gel.

The menthol intervention was shown to present significant pain reductions during several of the tasks. Overall, the study provides some support for the use of menthol gel for improving knee function and reducing knee pain for those with knee osteoarthritis.9

8. Topical Camphor

One study compared the efficacy of topical preparations containing glucosamine, chondroitin, and camphor for osteoarthritis of the knee. In the study, 63 patients diagnosed with knee osteoarthritis received either a topical placebo or a cream containing glucosamine, chondroitin, and camphor and peppermint oils over an eight-week period. Results of the study showed a significant reduction in pain for the treatment group than the placebo group. This all suggests that a topical treatment containing camphor, glucosamine, and chondroitin may help to reduce symptoms of knee osteoarthritis.10

At DrFormulas®, you can find a wide range of products that incorporate these and other findings for joint health. Take a look at our collection of bone and joint health products and start on the path to joint pain relief today.

 Next article: The Best and Worst Foods for Joint Pain