arthritis painArthritis Pain

Capsaicin

One of the more interesting additions to the arsenal against Arthritis Pain is something you might have eaten for dinner at some point – capsaicin.  Or, it’s also commonly known as a chili pepper.This fiery arthritis reliever works just in the way you think it would – by warming the skin and making the joints and muscles around the area relax.  But that’s only a part of the process.

What capsaicin does is helped to desensitize the skin as well.  Within our skin are receptors to pain that cause us to feel the aches and the throbbing.  But when these receptors are desensitized, you can be pain free for months at a time.

The substance P is what is associated with pain in the body.  By interfering with or depleting this substance, the brain does not receive messages of pain and so you don’t feel the pain.

In one University of Oxford study, it was found that 4 out of 10 arthritis patients were able to reduce their pain by almost half after using capsaicin cream for a month.  This is a dramatic difference and it can certainly help arthritis sufferers as well.

In fact, capsaicin has also been recommended for those suffering from neuropathy, from muscle pain, from joint pain, from nerve pain, and from shingles, a painful condition that affects older patients.

Since capsaicin is derived from the chili pepper, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind as you use it on your body.  First of all, just like the chili pepper, it can be quite hot – often too hot for some people’s sensitive skin.  If you feel your skin might be too sensitive, use a very small dose on a patch of skin near your hand to see what the reaction is.

Just like other topical ointments, capsaicin is easy to find in your local drugstore, making it a favorite among those who don’t want to run to their doctor each time they have an ache or a pain.

To use capsaicin, you will want to take a small amount and rub it into the skin where the pain is situated.  Immediately after, you should wash your hands of the cream so that you don’t feel the burning sensation there too.  However, if you want to use this cream on your hands for pain or stiffness, you can – just remove it after a half an hour to ensure you’re not transferring the cream to other parts of your body.

Getting the cream in your eye, for example, is quite painful and can necessitate a trip to the hospital in rare cases.

Like the other arthritis ointments, capsaicin should only be applied to clean and healthy skin which is free of cuts or open sores.  Getting the cream into these types of skin openings will be painful, more painful than the arthritis itself.

That said, one of the perks of capsaicin is that it doesn’t seem to have any known drug interactions.  So, you can be taking oral pain medications and still use this cream.

However, it is recommended that you limit the application of capsaicin to no more than 4 times a day.But unlike the previous sections on instant pain relief, capsaicin is not something to be used in those cases.  While some people will find they feel better after the burning sensation, long term relief will still take up to 2 weeks to notice.  Be patient, however, and you will find the power of chili peppers is quite effective in your fight against arthritis pain.

Over the counter capsaicin comes in a variety of strengths, so make sure to start with the lowest dosage before moving up to a strong dose.  Chances are good the lower dose will be all you need.

 

Arnica

While homeopathy still has some ground to gain in relation to the overall medical field, arnica seems to be one of the most respected treatments in relation to arthritis and muscle pain.  Whether applied topically or taken orally, this European flower helps to ease the suffering of afflicted patients.

Homeopathy is the practice of using very small amounts of herbs, flowers, and other ingredients in order to stimulate the body’s own healing response.  It can be likened to the idea of a vaccine in which the dead virus or bacteria is injected into the body in order to persuade the body to make the appropriate white blood cells in order to prevent the disease.

With arnica, this flower is a part of the sunflower family, and the hairy leaves are what has given it its name, derived from the Greek for ‘lamb’ or ‘arna.’

There are several types of arnica, but the most commonly used type is arnica Montana.  Within this compound is the chemical helenalin, which is actually toxic when taken in larger amounts.  However, when used in very minute measurements, it helps to reduce the inflammation of joints, while also helping to prevent and to heal bruising of the skin.

It is thought too that the roots of the arnica plant contain thymol, which helps to also prevent fungal infections, which might have something to do with preventing the inflammatory reaction.  Again, science is still studying how this homeopathic process works.

The main finding of the usefulness of arnica is that it seems to help stimulate the transportation of blood from one part of the body to the affected and afflicted body part.  This helps to take away any accumulation of fluids in the joints and in the skin, which allows the body to be free of pain, while also helping to stimulate the natural healing process.

By helping the blood capillaries dilate, the body’s blood transport system is much more efficient and a patient can move their joints more easily and without aches and pains.

The actual ingestion of arnica is not recommended, unless it has been prepared by a reputable homeopathic company or practitioner.  Those who ingest arnica can have severe stomach upset and even internal bleeding as a result.

Arnica is easy to find in most drugstores, and is founds as an ointment that is applied directly to the skin in order to promote the alleviation of pain and swelling.

You can apply this ointment to the skin as often as you like, taking care to wash your hands before moving onto your next task.  You will also want to make sure the skin is clean before applying and that there are no open sores or cracks in the skin that might become irritated by this therapy.

If you choose to use arnica orally, you can find it in small pellets of which you take 3 under the tongue, up to 6 times per day, or as recommended by the manufacturer or the homeopathic practitioner.

While arnica does not seem to interact with any other medications or prescriptions, it is recommended that you alert your doctor when you begin an arnica regimen of any kind.

Overall, arnica is seen to be safe and effective, while also being a gentle way to help your body heal itself as a complementary practice to traditional medicine.

 SAM-e (S adenosylmethionine)

It seems each day the number of supplements on the internet and in the supermarkets grows exponentially.  Each time one turns on the news, it seems there is another chemical or substance we should be taking into our bodies – like SAM-e.

This chemical is actually a naturally occurring compound found in an amino acid.  Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins in our bodies and without them, the human body can not survive.

As a result, it seems logical that adding more amino acids to the body might help to expedite the healing process in some manner.  Like many other natural remedies, it seems scientists aren’t completely certain why SAM-e works to help with arthritis pain, but the studies are proving its usefulness.

For example, in a study by the University of California at Irvine, researchers found that SAM-e is just as effective as traditional anti-inflammatory drugs like NSAIDs.  In just 2 months of using SAM-e, patients found that their arthritis pain was cut in half, something that few other medications can claim to achieve.

There are many different ways SAM-e can be used in relation to the improvement of health.  Not only has SAM-e been linked with helping arthritis pain, but it is also being studied for its ability to relieve depression in some patients.

In using SAM-e, it seems the body is able to increase the serotonin and dopamine chemicals in the brain, leading to feelings of well-being and even euphoria.  Since the improvement of your mental state is linked with reducing arthritis pain as well, it seems SAM-e is able to address multiple levels of arthritis pain issues.

The main advantage of SAM-e is that it helps with cellular repair and with cellular growth.  This can help the body repair damage as well as help to slow down the aging process.  Of course, the fountain of youth hasn’t been found just yet, but this amino acid compound does seem to have many possibilities in that search for youthful health and vigor.

In order to get the best results from SAM-e, you will need to take this supplement on a regular basis.  Research has shown the patients were able to notice less pain, but only after at least 2 weeks of regular supplementation.

You can find SAM-e at your local drugstores and grocery stores, but it helps to use only well known brands in your daily regimen of pills.  Also, since SAM-e seems to break down in light, the packaging should be protective of the pills, like foil blister packaging.

Other things to keep in mind when you are purchasing these pills is that they should have a GMP or a USP quality seal to ensure quality, the expiration date should allow for a few years’ time, and a stabilizing salt can help to further protect the integrity of the pills.

One special note: since SAM-e does affect moods, if you are on any other medication for depression or for mood stabilization, you need to talk with your doctor first before taking this supplement.  It can have adverse effects with a number of other prescriptions.

Fish oil

It’s beginning to seem like fish oil is some sort of panacea for all of the world’s problems.  From depression to heart health, arthritis pain to lower blood pressure, fish oils have been linked to a number of health issues.

But the usefulness of fish oil for arthritis is a fairly new finding.

When the fish oil is digested and broken down in the body, it becomes chemicals called prostaglandins. These chemicals will reduce inflammation in the body, which then reduces the pain.  The body can naturally produce these chemicals as well in certain situations, but in order to alleviate pain, the body needs more than the tissues and organs can provide for day to day functioning.

Derived from the tissues of fish, fish oils are also referred to as Omega-3 fatty acids, DHA, and EPA.  All of these labels are correct, and all of these chemicals break down in to the inflammation reducing chemicals the body needs.

In one study in Pennsylvania’s University of Pittsburg, patients who took cod liver oil on a regular basis for 10 weeks were able to completely stop taking their traditional pain medications.

What the main problem with fish oil is in relation to pain management is that most patients don’t take enough.  Though most supplements come in 1000 mg formulations, you need to take at least 4 times as much in order to help your arthritis pain.

Some researchers have recommended taking up to 8000 mg per day for the maximum effectiveness, in fact.

Some patients will have troubles taking fish oil, however, as it is a fish based compound.  Since the oil is derived from an actual fish, there can be a fishy aftertaste after taking these pills.  This can be avoided when you take the pills after eating a full meal.

There are also some supplements also that have removed the fishy taste or that have added a lemon flavoring in order to help with digestion.  Over time, however, your body will become accustomed to taking in these oils and you will not taste the fish at all.

If you find you are sensitive, just try a few different fish oil brands to see if one works better than the other for you.

You can also try to get your fish oil supplementation by trying to eat some fatty fishes more often than you eat red meat or poultry.  But the trick with doing this is that you have to eat a lot of actual fish in order to even come close to the amount of Omega fatty acids that you get from the concentrated oils.

In addition, eating a lot of fatty fish can increase your chances of mercury poisoning as fattier fishes tend to accumulate more mercury in their bodies as they move through their environments.

Mercury poisoning does not occur with the fish oil supplements as they are purified and they are ‘clean’ in terms of outside toxins.  Of course, it never hurts to choose a brand that’s well known over those that are cheaper and possibly not as well made.

It’s recommended that you limit your consumption of fatty fishes to no more than 2 to 3 servings of fish a week – which obviously limits your ability to get the maximum arthritis ‘dose.’

If you find you are experiencing symptoms like headaches, a lack of energy, and an overall ill feeling, it might be wise to discontinue your fish oil regimen and talk to your doctor about possibly being tested for mercury poisoning.

Make sure you read the label of the fish oil supplement carefully before making your final purchase.  You will want to find capsules that are at least 1000 mg each in order to help you limit the number of pills you have to take.

Omega 6 fatty acids are those which are found in poultry, eggs, and plant based oils.  These fatty acids are also good for the heart and also good for those who want to maintain good health.  However, they are not as strongly linked with the management of arthritis pain, so fish oil is the preferred remedy.

In fact, scientific studies are showing that ingesting too many plant based Omega 6 fatty acids may actually be affecting our ability to process Omega 3 fatty acids, which is what may be leading to more cases of arthritis to begin with – but right now, it is just speculation and deserves further study.

Once again, if you are taking any other medications, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor about supplementing with fish oils.

Methylsulfonyl-methane (MSM)

MSM is a naturally occurring substance that’s found in some plants and foods.  Derived from sulfur, the uses of MSM in the supplement world are becoming more and more celebrated with each subsequent study.

What’s interesting about MSM is that its primary use in the world is as a solvent.  It actually helps to break down substances at high temperatures.  Though it’s not as good a solvent as water, it does work well in the industrial field, helping to clean and break down other chemicals.

But it’s the sulfur derivation that has helped MSM become a part of the health supplementation market.  In a study at the University of California at San Diego, MSM was found to help prevent the degeneration of cartilage and of the joints themselves.  If this continues to be the finding, the use of MSM could be used to prevent arthritis before it even begins to take hold.

Not only is MSM being linked with the prevention of degeneration, but it’s also being linked with the ability to enhance mobility of the joints.  This can help a person continue to exercise and to strengthen the surrounding joints and muscles.  In doing do, arthritis pain can be reduced even more.

There is some controversy right now about the effectiveness of MSM, so further studies are being done at the moment.

MSM can be taken as a supplement, and is often found to be combined with glucosamine for joint health.  Patients can start with a small dose of 1.5 g and move up to 2 and even 3 g as they become accustomed to the supplement.

You might also find, however, that you can see benefits at much lower dosages – every patient is different.

The main concern with MSM is that it might not be necessary to add to the diet as meat-based diets tend to include plenty of sulfur.  But for those who eat less meat and for those who do not eat meat at all, MSM seems to be a wise choice.

As with any of the natural supplements described, the best results come from regular daily use of MSM.  The body needs to build up a reserve of the chemicals in order to continue to prevent joint degeneration.

Some patients may experience a slight discomfort the first few times they take MSM, so start with a smaller dose at mealtimes to prevent stomach upset as much as possible.

MSM is readily available online and at local drugstores without a prescription, but your doctor should be alerted when you begin an MSM regimen.