First off let me just say that I did not write this article to sell any product, but rather to share some information about some possible herbal arthritis cures that I have found during hours of online research.
My Experience, Wellbutrin Caused Arthritis Symptoms?
I first began to feel “achy”, arthritis – like symptoms about two weeks after my doctor put me on an antidepressant called Wellbutrin. I was not clinically depressed, but she felt it would help with the mild anxiety that I was having. As it turns out, Wellbutrin did nothing but crank up my anxiety to a very high level and give me panic attacks.
About a week into the drug, I began having chest pain, achy joints and other problems. I called my doctor and she promptly took me off of the medication. Since that time, which was well over three months ago, I’ve suffered from pain in my toes, fingers, knees and elbows. In addition to joint pain, Wellbutrin also left me with tinnitus, or ringing in my left ear. My doctor has since tested me for rheumatoid factor, and the results came back negative. Having a family history of rheumatoid arthritis I was still concerned, since a negative RF (rheumatoid factor) test does not always rule out the disease. I was prescribed Celebrex and unfortunately the drug did nothing in the way of helping relieve the pain in my joints, but it did give me an upset stomach. I decided to find out about proven natural treatments for arthritis and try some of them, along with an occasional dose of Advil.
Trying Natural Remedies
Not happy with being “poisoned” by modern medicine, I began searching online in earnest for some natural cures for joint pain. The danger of doctoring yourself, using information found on the web, is that you can often find “confirmation” of almost every “cure” out there by simply typing it in to your search bar. For example, think of the most unusual cure for arthritis you can imagine, and then type it into the search bar on your browser. Just try it. How about the term “watermelon seeds cure arthritis”. I just made that up, but lo and behold, typing it into Google, you come up with dozens of pages that contain information about watermelon seeds either causing, or preventing arthritis. Many of the websites you find which have information on things such as turmeric, Sam e, fish oil, ginger, capsaicin, etc, are also selling supplements. They cite numerous research studies, but don’t provide any links to them, nor the names of the doctors or clinics which performed them.
With this much misinformation about alternative cures out there, how is anyone supposed to find the truth? Your first step in finding effective natural arthritis supplements is to narrow down the ones most commonly prescribed by certified Naturopathic Medical Doctors, or NMD’s. Once you’ve done that, search for “double blind” tests involving that natural arthritis supplement, done by reputable research institutions to find evidence that the claims of these supplements hold up.
What Role Does Inflammation Play In Arthritis?
There are over 100 kinds of arthritis and there is no single proven underlying cause for any of them. There are genetic factors that may predispose some people to the disease, environmental ones, etc. Rheumatoid arthritis seems to be caused by the body attacking its own tissues when a person’s immune system gets out of whack. There are now drugs which suppress the immune system and which can reduce the destructive effects of rheumatoid arthritis. If you suspect you have RA, see your doctor at once. Osteoarthritis is more common and refers to joint pain caused by aging, over-use such as mechanical stress on the joints, and other factors. Underlying all of the forms of arthritis is the condition of inflammation. The word inflammation, comes from the Latin word “inflammo” or “to set on fire”. When your body suffers from inflammation in any part of it, damage occurs due to oxidation. When a piece of wood burns in a fire it is oxidized, and so are parts of your body as inflammation wreaks havoc on them. The best way to prevent damage to your body from inflammation caused by arthritis is to use either pharmaceutical anti-inflammatory drugs, such as NSAID’s, or find naturally occurring ones. Below are some of the most researched, naturally occurring anti inflammatory supplements that may help arthritis sufferers.
Why The Lack Of Natural Arthritis Cure Studies?
Studies on the effects of natural or man made medicines are done either “in vivo” (on live organisms) or “in vitro”, (in a test tube). Many natural compounds show promise to reduce inflammation “in vitro” but because they are broken down by the body, do not produce any results “in vivo”. Studies on either live animals or humans are expensive to undertake. Since the pharmaceutical industry stands to make billions of dollars off of drugs like Celebrex, they are willing to fund large clinical studies on them. Note that most of the scientific studies on drugs are done by those looking to make the most profit from them if they are proven effective. Even natural “cures” for arthritis and other conditions are somewhat susceptible to this flaw in the testing process. How are we to know if the tests were really objective, given that they were funded by the very people who want to see positive results from their products. Note that many of the tests you find on things such as turmeric and fish oil often are done in countries where these products originate, such as Norway in the case of fish oil and India in the case of turmeric. Therein lies the flaw in the whole testing process when it comes to finding natural alternatives for arthritis and other conditions.
It has been found, at least in animal studies, that curcumin, the active ingredient in the spice turmeric, reduced the symptoms of arthritis. In one study, “Anti-inflammatory effect of Curcuma longa (turmeric) on collagen-induced arthritis: An anatomico-radiological study”, by Taty Anna K, Elvy Suhana MR, Das S, Faizah O, Hamzaini AH., it was shown that “the administration of CL (turmeric) extract arrested the degenerative changes in the bone and joints of collagen-induced arthritic rats.” There have been at least a few of these “in vivo” tests on turmeric and they have shown promise for treating arthritis. No widespread human trials on turmeric have yet been done. According to Dr. Weil’s website, an Italian study of 50 patients with osteoarthritis of the knee were evaluated while taking turmeric along with conventional medication or conventional medicine alone. It was found that the group taking turmeric in addition to conventional medicine, “blood tests showed a 16-fold decline in C-reactive protein, a marker for inflammation, plus an overall improvement in emotional well being of 300%. Does this mean that turmeric did the trick, or did it just help traditional NSAID’s work better. Who knows.
Conclusion: It can’t hurt to take turmeric, at least if you are otherwise healthy and it doesn’t give you indigestion. The LEF or Life Extension Foundation suggests 400mg per day but you should consult your MD or Naturopathic Doctor for your own dosing amount.
Sam e For Arthritis
Sam e is one name for S-Adenosyl methionine, a common co-substrate involved in methyl transfers. What this means in laymans terms is that Sam e helps in over 40 chemical reactions in the body. This supplement is a prescription-only medicine in many European countries and used for depression, liver disease and arthritis. According to the University of Maryland, “Numerous scientific studies have shown that SAMe helps relieve the pain of osteoarthritis, and other studies suggest that SAMe may help treat depression.” It’s worth noting that many of the first studies involved injecting Sam e into the bloodstream, not taking it by mouth. Again, you can find dozens of websites (mostly selling Sam e supplements) which cite “numerous studies” that show the efficacy of Sam e. One has to dig pretty deep to actually find these studies, but they are out there. One, done by C. di Padova at the Clinical Research Department, BioResearch S.p.A., Liscate-Milan, Italy, showed the following: “The results of extensive clinical trials, which have enrolled about 22,000 patients with osteoarthritis in the last five years, support the clinical effectiveness and the optimal tolerability of SAMe administration. The intensity of therapeutic activity of SAMe against osteoarthritis is similar to that exerted by non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, but its tolerability is higher. Many Naturopathic Medical Doctors recommend Sam e for both arthritis and depression and claim that it increases the effects of glucosamine and chondroitin. Consult one of them for dosing information. Note that Sam e should not be taken by those with bipolar disorder. I’ve added Sam e to my daily supplement regimen for arthritis, and it seems to be working. Note: Many of these supplements offer a “money back guarantee”. Save your receipt and don’t be shy about taking them back to your pharmacy for a refund if you don’t get relief from them.
Fish Oil For Arthritis
Fish oil is one of the most widely prescribed supplements for arthritis. The key ingredient in fish oil, krill oil and flax seed oil which is thought to reduce inflammation is Omega 3 fatty acids. There have been many more studies done on humans involving fish oil as a treatment for arthritis than on the two supplements previously described. One study, done at the Department of Rheumatology, State University Groningen, (The Netherlands), involved giving the control group coconut oil, the second group NSAID’s and the other fish oil. The study concluded that fish oil was effective in reducing the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. The University of Maryland reports that “A number of small studies have found that fish oil helps reduce symptoms of RA, including joint pain and morning stiffness”, but does not arrest the progression of the disease. Fish oil has been prescribed by both naturopathic and conventional doctors for years now to help with everything from high cholesterol to dry skin. As part of a healthy diet, eating foods rich in Omega 3′s or taking fish oil supplements is a very good idea.
Do Glucosamine and Chondroitin Work For Arthritis?
Glucosamine and chondroitin are substances found in human joints that are are believed to play a part in healing and building new cartilage. The theory is, that taking these supplements orally can help you maintain healthy joints. This line of thinking, that “eating what you’re made of”, doesn’t work all the time though. Just because a part of your body contains a certain substance, doesn’t mean that consuming that substance will be beneficial to that body part. A major study called GAIT (Glucosamine/Chondroitin Arthritis Intervention Trial), compared the effects of a glucosamine hcl, glucosamine sulfate, celecoxib and a placebo. The study was conducted at multiple sites from 2006-2010. Results of the GAIT study were disappointing to say the least. The end result was that patients using either form of glucosamine or a combination of the two did no better than the group taking the placebo. In a follow up of the 2006 study however, it was shown that in a subgroup of patients, when the supplements (glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate) were taken together the results were significantly more effective than placebo (79.2% versus 54%, and 10% higher than the control group taking celecoxib. Another study, a six month, double blind study called the Guide Study, (Glucosamine Unum in Die Efficacy) was done in a number of European hospitals. It examined the effects of glucosamine sulfate on osteoarthritis of the knee. Glucosamine sulfate was compared to a placebo and to acetaminophen. The study found that 39.6% of patients responded to glucosamine sulfate, 33.3% responded favorably to acetaminophen, and 21.2% responded to the placebo. Another study on Glucosamine was done in Canada by Dr. Jolanda Cibere, a rheumatologist and lead investigator for the study, who followed the progress of 137 patients. In patients taking Glucosamine, it was found that there was no difference in the number of flare – ups of osteoarthritis in the knee compared to a placebo.
What are we to make of all this you ask? Glucosamine and chondroitin supplements are big business. Supplement companies take by – products of the shellfish industry and turn them into valuable products. Many Naturopathic Doctors and MD’s recommend some form of glucosamine and chondroitin so it can’t hurt to at least try them. If you don’t see any relief from your arthritis symptoms after six months, discontinue using the product. Note: People who are allergic to shellfish should not take Glucosamine – chondroitin supplements. Observe all warnings on any of the natural products mentioned in this article and talk to your physician before using them.
For many years the herb Uncaria guianensis or cat’s claw has been utilized in alternative medicine as a natural remedy for arthritis. A study published in 2006, which was conducted at the Albany Medical College and other facilities, tested a combination of extracts of Lepidium meyenii (commonly known as maca), and Uncaria guianensis (cat’s claw). Subjects were given 3 capsules or 600 mg a day over an 8 week period. The proprietary blend known as Reparagen, manufactured by Rainforest Nutritionals, was shown to be effective at not only reducing inflammation but possibly helping grow new cartilage. Full text of the Reparagen study can be found here: Reparagen Study
It seems that if Reparagen were proven to be so effective, would be headline news, but you don’t seem to hear that much about it. It is sold online, and at CVS drug stores with the claim that it will alleviate joint discomfort in as few as 7 days. The Reparagen study was funded by the National Institute of Health, a government agency. From all appearances, sound scientific methods were utilized to confirm that the RNI-249 extract of maca root, along with cat’s claw extract, were in fact an effective treatment for joint pain. I noted that there is no “money back guarantee” on the CVS version of the product.
Rose Hip Extract
Numerous studies involving rose hip extract have shown that the substance reduced overall joint discomfort and increased range of motion. I a double blind, placebo controlled study, 47 patients were studied. Some were given 5 mg daily of rose hip extract, the others were given a placebo. Those given rose hip extract were shown to have an overall reduction in pain in the range of 48% to 49% compared to the placebo. It is thought that in addition to the vitamin C that rose hip extract contains other natural compounds that reduce inflammation and oxidative damage to joints.
Avocado Soybean Unsaponifiables
Several studies have shown that Avocado Soybean Unsaponifiables may relieve the symptoms of osteoarthritis. The active agent in this combination is unknown, but is thought to be a plant sterol which reduces inflammation. A very detailed report of that study by the National Institute of Health can be found here: Avacado Soybean Unsaponifiables study. Most of these studies showed that people taking ASU supplements over a period of several weeks experienced an improvement in range of motion, and overall pain reduction vs. those taking NSAID’s alone.
Other Natural Supplements That May Help Arthritis Sufferers
It is simply not possible to mention in this article all of the substances that are reported to help people with arthritic symptoms, however some of the most common ones that come up the most often on reputable natural health sites are: avocado oil, ginger, boswellia seratta, hyaluronic acid, bovine collagen tablets, holy basil, rose hip extract, bromelain (from pineapple), cherry juice, nobelitin ( a bioflavinoid), green tea extract, nettle leaf, sulfur (MSM), and capsaicin (topical), among others.
Conclusion and Disclaimer
The contents of this article are for informational purposes only. Please DO NOT take any of the substances described in this article without reading all of the warnings on the packaging, as well as asking your doctor if it is OK to take them. Some may cause serious complications for people using certain drugs, or with certain health conditions. If you suspect you have any form of arthritis, or other medical condition, see your doctor and follow the treatment program that they recommend. Since taking the supplements mentioned in this article, the aching in my joints has subsided somewhat. I’ll post a follow up article on TheInfoMine in a few more weeks. If you suspect that Wellbutrin caused arthritis like symptoms, contact your doctor immediately. Regular exercise, avoiding excessive caffeine intake, reducing the amount of beef and pork you eat, and eating a balanced diet that includes fruits and vegetables, (especially ones with a high ORAC number) can help reduce the severity of arthritis.
Sources: http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/phytochemicals/curcumin/, http://nccam.nih.gov/research/results/spotlight/030106.htm, http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/QAA400838/Turmeric-for-Arthritis.html, http://arthritis.about.com/od/glucosamine/a/glucosamineoa.htm http://www.rosehipvital.com.au/v-shop/file-preview.php?file=files/117.pdf&filename=27-Aug-2008-A-One-year-Survey-on-the-Use-of-a-Powder-from-Rosa-canina-lito-in-Acute-Exacerbations-of-Chronic-Pain-270808.pdf http://www.rosehipvital.com.au/v-shop/file-preview.php?file=files/114.pdf&filename=25-Feb-2009-Can-a-powder-made-from-subtypes-of-rose-hip-act-structuremodifying-in-Osteoarthritis.pdf