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Fighting the inflammatory fire with four natural ingredients

09 June 2017 Print

Featured on aboutpain.com.au on 9 June 2017 by Dr Joe Kosterich

Inflammation and pain are interconnected – persistent inflammation contributes to the development of mild osteoarthritis, characterised by pain in the joints, stiffness and swelling. Acute pain lasting a specific period of time can result from inflammation. Some people live with pain, which could imply that the associated inflammation may also be prolonged.

What causes pain in the joints?

Symptoms of mild osteoarthritis are usually seen in individuals over 40. As you age, your muscles can get weaker, joints start wearing out, and your body begins losing its ability to heal itself as effectively. Weight gain and previous injury to a joint may also increase the risk of symptoms occurring.

How about lower back pain?

Back pain can have many different causes. These range from stress and poor posture to ligament or muscle strains, and also structural issues which require specialist attention. Mild cases can be self-managed but it is important to see a health professional if your pain is severe or persists. Eating certain foods such as fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, olive oil, and seeds and nuts, may help lesson arthritic pain by helping to control inflammation.

Four natural ingredients to help fight pain and inflammation

Boswellia serrata

Boswellia serrata is an extract from a tree found in the mountains of India, North Africa and the Middle East. It has been used for centuries to treat inflammation and has been shown to be effective inhibitor of 5-lipoxygenase, an enzyme responsible for inflammation.

Glucosamine sulfate

Found naturally in the body in the fluid surrounding joints, glucosamine sulfate supplements combining these two active ingredients, can help relieve a number of symptoms resulting from mild osteoarthritis, including pain, inflammation and swelling. It may control cartilage loss or damage, and improve joint mobility. Expert bodies recommend 1500mg of glucosamine sulphate daily for the management of mild osteoarthritis.

Curcumin

The main active component of turmeric, a popular spice in Indian foods, has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. The compound has been shown to inhibit inflammatory mediators including various cytokines, cyclooxygenase-2 (COX2) and 5-lipooxygenase (5-LOX), and other enzymes associated with inflammation.

Purified Omega-3 rich fish oil

As docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) are thought to possess anti-inflammatory properties, an essential fatty acid supplement with omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA could reduce inflammation. They may reduce mild arthritis-related joint swelling and improve joint mobility. It is difficult to consume them through diet alone, which is why concentrated fish oil capsules or flavoured omega liquid concentrate is often recommended.

Alleviating pain without reaching for drugs?

Other ways to prevent and reduce pain from inflammation may include:

1. Watch your posture – check yourself immediately when you begin to slouch on your sofa or in front of your computer. Being mindful and making small changes can go a long way to avoiding unnecessary stress on your back and keep the resulting pain or discomfort at bay.

2. Keep moving – exercise is one of the most accessible natural therapies. Aerobic exercises and strength training can improve flexibility, reduce inflammation, improve posture and help with weight management. Chalk out an exercise routine that works for you – yoga, swimming, aqua aerobics, walking – variety can help keep you interested.

3. Minimise sitting – If you can’t find time for regular exercise, at least try to make a conscious effort to avoid sitting for long periods of time. The average Australian adult spends more than half their day sitting. Aim to get up and move every 30 minutes.

4. Physical therapy – applying ice, heat and electrical simulation – is a common treatment for back pain. If you have mild lower back pain, applying an ice pack as early as possible may help, and switch to heat compress after 48 hours. It is worth noting that some people respond better to heat and others to cold applications. Go with what works for you.

Ask your health professional if a quality supplement such as Eagle Joint Ease and Eagle Omega Vital Fish Oils may be helpful for you. Always read the label. Vitamin supplements should not replace a balanced diet. Dr Joe Kosterich is an Integrative GP at Kingsley Woodvale Medical Centre, WA