tions such as prolotherapy and platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy. For PRP, doctors draw some of the patient’s blood and spin it down with a centrifuge to isolate platelets loaded with growth-promoting compounds. Ten, they inject the platelets into the joint. A study of 78 patients with knee osteoar- thritis published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine found that those receiving one or two PRP injections had significantly less pain and better function six months later, while the placebo group worsened. In pro- lotherapy, doctors inject natural substances like dextrose and saline into the joint two to three times for six to eight weeks to promote production of collagen and other tissue-re- generating compounds. “Rather than inject a steroid, which pro-

vides a short-term fix by suppressing the immune response, we inject a concentrated solution that ignites the body’s natural healing response,” says Seenauth.

A Mind-Body Approach Natural joint pain remedies also encompass acupuncture and meditation. In the UK, a University of York meta-review of 114 studies exploring 22 integrative or comple- mentary therapies for arthritis, including strength and aerobic exercise training, found acupuncture to have the most studies completed and the most promising results.

“Acupuncture can be considered as one of the more effective physical treatments for alleviating osteoarthritis knee pain in the short term,” concluded the authors. University of Auckland researchers, in

New Zealand, recruited 42 rheumatoid arthritis patients and assigned half to a program of mindfulness-based stress reduction, described by researchers as “the cultivation of nonjudgmental attention to unwanted thoughts, feelings and bodily experiences via meditation.” While the meditation group saw no

change in levels of inflammatory markers in the blood or the number of swollen joints, they did report significantly less morning stiffness, tenderness and pain. Te patients, in essence, trained themselves to experience their symptoms differently. “Pain is not just about nerves detecting

a noxious stimulant and sending the signal to your brain. Te brain has a whole system

September 2018 29

for processing these signals, and is also informed by your experiences, emotions and cognition,” says Seenauth, who recommends mindfulness meditation to all of his patients. “With the right nutrition, therapies and

state of mind,” he says, “you can significantly reduce the impact joint pain has on your life.” Lisa Marshall is a freelance health

writer in Boulder, CO. Connect at

Supplementing Suppleness by Lisa Marshall

Curcumin: Derived from turmeric (Curcuma longa), this bright yellow culinary spice has been

used as an anti-inflammatory agent in Asia for centuries. Today, it’s used as an alternative to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID), which can wreak havoc on the stomach and kid- neys if taken long term, according to Naturopath Casey Seenauth. One industry-sponsored review concluded that 1,000 milligrams (mg) per day of curcumin can rival a NSAID like Advil for relief of pain and inflammation.

Collagen or gelatin: Integrative med- icine practitioners have long prescribed gelatin

powder made from animal connective tissue to provide the nutrients required for joint regen- eration. Supplement makers have developed arthritis-specific collagen supplements in which the gelatin is broken down for better absorption. A Chinese study of 500 rheumatoid arthritis patients found that collagen derived from chicken cartilage improved symptoms of pain, stiffness and swelling in joints. Plant-based options are available.

Glucosamine: This classic tissue-building block has been shown in multiple studies to slow cartilage loss associated with osteoarthritis. Taken long

enough, it can also ease pain, says Seenauth. “People often take it, don’t feel anything right away and quit. Give it time.” He recommends 2,000 mg per day for at least six to eight weeks.

Fish oil: Omega-3 fatty acids like eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and doco- sahexaenoic acid (DHA) are established anti-inflammatories. A Korean Univer-

sity review of 10 trials involving nearly 400 rheumatoid arthritis patients found that those taking more than three grams per day of omega-3 fatty acid supple- ments reduced their reliance on NSAIDs and had less pain.

Probiotics: While their impact on pain reduction isn’t clearly known, many studies show that certain strains of Lactobacillusand Bifidobacterium can

boost immune function, repair damaged gut lining and reduce system-aggravat- ing inflammation, says Dr. Susan Blum. She recommends products containing a mixed blend of 20 billion to 30 billion colony-forming units (CFU) per capsule.


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