Osteoarthritis: how can natural medicine help?

Natural medicine helps to improve the symptoms of osteoarthritis and to slow down joint wear. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease. It is characterised by destruction of the joint cartilage and production of marginal osteophytes.

There are two types of osteoarthritis: primary and secondary. Primary osteoarthritis has an unknown cause, and secondary osteoarthritis is caused by an infection, injury or deformity.

The symptoms of osteoarthritis develop over time. The most prominent symptom is pain in the joints accompanied, sometimes, by stiffness.

Other symptoms include back pain and numbness. If osteoarthritis is in a more advanced stage there is limitation of movement, creaking joints and weakness in one arm or leg.

Osteoarthritis: natural or allopathic medicine?

Allopathic medicine focuses on relieving pain by using anti-inflammatories. Anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen or rofecoxib relieve pain very quickly but accelerate joint damage.

Anti-inflammatories, taken as a single treatment for osteoarthritis, inhibit cartilage formation and accelerate its destruction. Other drawbacks of anti-inflammatories are their side effects on a gastrointestinal, renal and cardiovascular level.

Currently, chondroprotective agents are being used increasingly, which prevent joint wear. These food supplements are useful for the prevention and treatment of osteoarthritis and athletic joint diseases.

Natural Treatment

Natural medicine combines four types of substances: chondroprotectors, analgesics, anti-inflammatories and type II collagen or nutrients that promote cartilage formation.

Furthermore, it would be interesting to complete the treatment of osteoarthritis with a multi-nutrient to provide vitamins, minerals and amino acids. Nutrients are the substrates of numerous chemical reactions that occur in the body.

Chondroprotectors

Chondroprotectors prevent the destruction of cartilage and increase its synthesis in the matrix. The most important are Chondroitin Sulphate, Glucosamine, shark cartilage, hyaluronic acid and green-lipped mussel (Perna canaliculus).

Analgesics

The most well known natural painkillers are vitamin B complex and harpagophytum, or Devil’s Claw.

Anti-inflammatories

The combination of nutrition and herbal medicine (phytotherapy) helps to decrease inflammation in the affected area. Natural anti-inflammatories for osteoarthritis are Omega 3, proteolytic enzymes (bromeliad and serrapeptase), harpagophytum, boswellia, turmeric and Pycnogenol.

Nutrients that promote collagen formation

In the treatment of osteoarthritis, hydrolysed collagen type II can be used, and substances that promote collagen formation should be taken. Substances that help the formation of collagen are vitamin C, MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane), silicon and manganese, among others.

Warning

Some of these drugs are contraindicated if you take anticoagulants (blood thinners), have diabetes and/or poor circulation. Most of the medications mentioned are contraindicated in pregnancy and lactation.

Always seek advice from your doctor, therapist, pharmacist or health professional.

Photo: CC0 Public Domain

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