Osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are inflammatory conditions affecting the joints and surrounding tissue, causing swelling, stiffness, and pain. However, the two conditions have very different causes. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative, sometimes debilitating condition, where joints gradually lose their cartilage (the gel-like substance which protects adjacent bones from rubbing together). It most commonly affects the fingers, hips, and knees, and usually occurs from age 50 onwards. OA is thought to be the result of decades of joint wear and tear, with professional athletes frequently affected, though genetic factors and excess weight can also be contributing factors.
Rheumatoid arthritis, on the other hand, is an autoimmune condition where the immune system attacks the body’s joints and surrounding tissue, causing inflammation, swelling, and pain. RA generally manifests between ages 20 and 40. The cause is unknown, but it is thought there may be a genetic predisposition. Onset is usually sudden, and attacks may be acute with regular flare-ups followed by periods of remission.
A medical diagnosis is important to ascertain which type of arthritis is present. Once that is established, the symptoms of both OA and RA can often be greatly relieved using an nutrition and natural remedies for arthritis – anti-inflammatory foods, supplements, natural remedies for arthritis, identifying and removing any aggravating foods, applying natural balms and ointments, and making positive lifestyle changes such as reducing stress, losing weight, and getting regular gentle exercise. Below are some of the best foods for arthritis.
Avocados are one of the world’s marvelous foods. They contain a broad range of joint-friendly nutrients including vitamins C, E, B-complex and a range of minerals including magnesium and potassium. They are rich in the phytochemical glutathione, a powerful antioxidant and are a rich source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. All beneficial for helping to alleviate arthritis symptoms.
Ginger is a true superfood and has potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties which can benefit every health condition including arthritis. Use ginger liberally in cooking, baking, in fresh vegetable juices, soups and tea infusions.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is a tried and tested remedy for joint pain. One of the reasons for this is that it improves digestion of foods by increasing levels of HCL in the stomach. As we get older, our stomach’s ability to produce HCL wanes, hindering digestion and absorption, and allowing inadequately digested proteins to make their way into the bloodstream, causing inflammation. Take 1 tbsp of ‘live’ apple cider vinegar before each meal and see if arthritis symptoms improve.
Sulforaphane, a phytochemical found in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, has been shown to have a beneficial effect on joint cartilage and helps reduce the inflammation associated with arthritis. Broccoli also contains vitamin C and calcium, needed for collagen synthesis and bone health.
Chia seeds are an exceptional vegetarian source of omega-3 fatty acids, which have a powerful anti-inflammatory effect on the body, including the joints. To help relieve the pain, swelling and stiffness of all kinds of arthritis, use a dessert spoon of chia seeds sprinkled on cereals, poached fruit, into soups and in baking.
Oily fish such as mackerel are high in omega-3 fatty acids that have a powerful anti inflammatory effect on the body, including the joints. To help relieve the pain, swelling and stiffness of all kinds of arthritis, include at least 3 portions of oily fish per week in your diet.
Current research supports the claims that the antioxidant content of brightly colored fruit & vegetables such as kiwifruit offer protection against inflammatory conditions like arthritis. Kiwis are also very high in vitamin C, known for its anti-inflammatory effects and important for maintaining the body’s collagen and connective tissues.
Extra-virgin olive oil is highly beneficial for arthritis because it contains oleocanthal, which studies have shown to have a powerful anti-inflammatory effect. It’s also rich on plant sterols, antioxidants and vitamins E and K, and beneficial fatty acids, great for people with Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Turmeric is a superb anti-inflammatory which actively inhibits certain inflammatory pathways within the body, significantly impacting upon external and internal inflammation. This has made turmeric a first choice for inflammations of the musculoskeletal system and the digestive system. Research has shown that turmeric impacts upon certain pain receptors within the body and reduces substance ‘P’ acting as an analgesic. This, along with its strong anti-inflammatory actions, makes turmeric a fantastic remedy for inflamed, swollen and painful conditions. Turmeric treats inflammation of the joints, alleviates pain and strengthens the joints and tendons. It is useful for treating gout, arthritis, broken bones and wounds. Dosage: 1-2g/day dried root as a capsule
Fish oil supplements contain essential omega-3 fatty acids that have a powerful anti-inflammatory effect on the body, including the joints. To help relieve the pain, swelling, and stiffness associated with arthritis, include at least 3 portions of oily fish per week in your diet. If you’re not eating that much fish, consider taking a high-quality fish oil supplement. Krill oil is a good option as it’s more bioavailable, less likely to have heavy metal contamination and is sustainably harvested. Some studies have shown krill oil to be very effective in reducing symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Good vegetarian sources of omega 3s include chia seeds, flaxseeds, and sacha inchi seeds.
The constituent boswellic acid is a particularly strong anti-inflammatory stimulant activity, helps to reduce characteristically congested and heat dominated conditions such as chronic inflammatory conditions of the musculoskeletal system. Boswellic acid is also valued as a painkiller and is an excellent remedy for reducing pain and inflammation throughout the body, specifically arthritic or post trauma where there is inflammation and congestion.
Typical Dosage: 1-2g/day dried resin as a capsule.
Solomon’s Seal is known for it’s remarkable ability to restore proper tension to ligaments, attachments, and joints, regardless of whether they be too loose or too tight. Moistening by nature, it helps lubricate dry, stiff joints rather than arthritis caused by damp. For many herbalists, Solomon’s Seal is the go-to herb for dry, creaky joints.