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Irsfeld: Where to turn for relief from joint pain, arthritis

Osteoarthritis is probably one of the most asked about topics when people come to the pharmacy.

Most likely because the Centers for Disease Control estimated 30.8 million adults had osteoarthritis from 2008 to 2011.

There is a good chance that if you are 65 or older, you have some for type of arthritis. Are you dealing with arthritis or aches and pains from general wear and tear? Maybe you are a hardcore or recreational athlete and are looking for joint and inflammatory support? Fortunately, lifestyle modification and natural medicine has a lot to offer.

What do I mean when we speak about lifestyle modification? I am going to use the example of the ant and the grasshopper. The ant was busy readying himself for the winter, gathering food and preparing shelter. The grasshopper was off playing, not caring or planning for what would happen when winter comes. To make a long story short, the ant prospered and the grasshopper perished. We can take this and apply it to our lives. Diet, exercise, sleep, stress reduction and supplementation, when done properly can help decrease inflammation. Inflammation is the cause of most chronic conditions. So eat a healthy balanced diet, exercise four to five days per week, try to get seven to eight hours of sleep, try to decrease your stress, simplify your life and supplement with a multivitamin, fish oil, probiotics and vitamin D. This is not only the foundation of our overall health, but will also help lower overall inflammation.

When we need additional help we don't need to look very hard to find some common prescription and nonprescription pain and joint medications which include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) and acetaminophen.

Both classes of drugs have come with heightened warnings over the last few years. Acetaminophen, due to an increased risk of liver disease, and NSAID's—such as ibuprofen, naproxen, meloxicam and celecoxib—due to increased risk of heart disease and stroke. Last year, the Food and Drug Administration strengthened an existing warning in prescription drug labels and over-the-counter Drug Facts labels to indicate that NSAIDs can increase the chance of a heart attack or stroke, either of which can lead to death.

Those serious side effects can occur as early as the first few weeks of using an NSAID and the risk might increase the longer people take NSAIDs. (Although aspirin is also an NSAID, this revised warning doesn't apply to aspirin.) Considering that heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women, we don't need to add insult to injury.

I have three favorite natural supplements that provide unique synergistic benefits in the management of osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and even joint support for the hardcore and recreational athletes.

The first ingredient is curcumin. I have called curcumin my desert island nutrient due to its multiple benefits of detoxification, digestive, cellular, mood, cognitive, antioxidant and musculoskeletal support.

Besides the effectiveness of curcumin, what I really love is that it counteracts negative side effects of both NSAID's and acetaminophen. Curcumin has been used to actually treat ulcers, as NSAID's are known to cause ulcers. Where acetaminophen can lead to liver damage, curcumin has shown to be supportive of both liver and kidney function.

As far as effectiveness goes, curcumin has shown to be more effective than prescription diclofenac for reducing pain and enhancing mobility.

In another study, a combination of curcumin, and my next favorite ingredient, boswellia, performed better than the prescription anti-inflammatory celecoxib (Celebrex).

Boswellia provides both joint and connective tissue support and inhibits MMP (matrix metalloproteinase activity) which degrades cartilage, thus preserving joint function. Boswellia has shown to provide wonderful anti-inflammatory digestive support, for which I often recommend.

My third-favorite ingredient is UC-II (undenatured collagen.) UC-II has shown to work twice as good as glucosamine and chondroitin while providing a significant decrease in swollen and painful joints.

What really makes UC-II special is that it activates a pathway known as "induced oral tolerance," which trains the immune system not to overreact in cases of autoimmune inflammatory disorders, including rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.

You can find these supplements individually, or in a combination blend which also has MSM, and hyaluronic acid for optimal joint and inflammatory support.

Until next time, be vigilant about your health!

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