Best Supplement for Joint Pain Relief Without the Stomach Upset

December 27, 2021

Best Supplement for Joint Pain Relief Without the Stomach Upset

In this article:

  • What is inflammation?
  • What types of conditions impair joint function?
  • Which Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs cause stomach irritation?
  • Dietary supplements for better joint health and decreased stomach irritation
  • Supplements you should skip (for now)

What is inflammation?

Inflammation is the body's natural response to injury and infection. In order to heal the injury or fight off bacteria, the immune system sends white blood cells to fight the foreign invader. Short-term or acute inflammation may cause temporary swelling and pain, but ultimately it does its job to heal and protect your body and eventually subsides. Issues arise when the inflammation either occurs erroneously, such as with autoimmune disorders where the body perceives its own cells or tissues as harmful, or when the inflammation becomes chronic.

Inflammation can affect nearly any part of the body, including the joints. The symptoms of chronic inflammation can include stiffness and soreness, throbbing pain, inflammation and swelling, heat, and redness. It's also believed that chronic inflammation underlies many serious health conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, allergies, and psoriasis.

What types of conditions impair joint function?

Joint inflammation can be caused by one of two things: injury or inflammatory diseases.

  • Osteoarthritis is a common type of arthritis that is caused by everyday “wear and tear” on the joints. Osteoarthritis pain is caused when cartilage, the connective tissue that cushions the joints, becomes thin and the bones begin to rub against each other.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease in which the body attacks its own tissues, especially the joints. Rheumatoid arthritis symptoms include joint pain and stiffness, fatigue, knobs/bumps on the fingers, skin lumps, and dry mouth.
  • Bursitis is inflammation of a bursa, the sacs of fluid that help cushion your joints.
  • Gout is a form of arthritis that causes sudden, severe joint pain and inflammation. This occurs when excess uric acid crystallizes and deposits in the joints.

Which Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs cause stomach irritation?

Chronic use of NSAIDS, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, comes with many side effects including stomach ulcers and irritation, nausea, and heartburn. If you are dealing with chronic inflammation or joint pain, minimize the use of anti-inflammatory drugs such as:

  • Aspirin
  • Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin)
  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
  • Naproxen (Aleve)

Dietary Supplements for Better Joint Health and Decreased Stomach Irritation

Boswellia Serrata: Boswellia Serrata, or Indian frankincense, is a natural supplement with powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Boswellia's effectiveness stems from preventing the formation of leukotrienes, inflammatory chemicals, in the body. Certain studies have found Boswellia Serrata to be effective at decreasing knee pain related to osteoarthritis of the knee. Other studies have shown that Boswellia is an inhibitor of the damaging pro-inflammatory mediators that can compromise collagen proteins. This is important because collagen provides flexible and sturdy support to all of the body's major connective tissues including the joints. Boswellia is one of the few supplements that has not been linked to stomach upset or other damaging side effects.

Omega-3s: Fish oil supplements contain omega-3 fatty acids. On top of improving heart health and even fighting depression and anxiety, long-chain omega-3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA) are known to have potent anti-inflammatory effects. Though the side effects of omega-3 supplements may include gastrointestinal agitation, it is usually mild and only noticed when consumed in very high doses. Taking 250–500 mg of omega-3s per day is generally considered safe. If the "fish burps" and heartburn of traditional fish oil supplements scare you off, there are now vegan-friendly algal oil supplements that contain both DHA and EPA that rarely cause stomach upset or indigestion.

Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA): Gamma-linolenic acid or GLA is an omega-6 fatty acid that can be converted into anti-inflammatory chemicals and suppress inflammatory responses. GLA is available in capsules or as oil. When taken at doses of no more than 3g daily, it may be a well-tolerated and effective treatment for rheumatoid arthritis.

Devil's Claw: Despite its name, Devil's Claw is another gentle yet effective herbal remedy that has been shown to reduce joint pain and improve mobility in people with osteoarthritis. According to Mount Sinai, "If taken at the recommended dose for a short time, health practitioners consider Devil's Claw non-toxic and safe, with few side effects. High doses can cause mild stomach problems in some people. Researchers are unsure of the safety of taking Devil’s Claw over an extended period of time.

Cat's Claw: Cat's Claw is an herbal supplement derived from a woody vine found in South and Central America. While more studies need to be done, preliminary studies have found that Cat's Claw has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties with no known side effects.

Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM): MSM is an organic sulfur that can be found in raw foods such as fruits, vegetables, and meat. When consumed via dietary sources, it can be broken down, rendering it less effective. When consumed in a supplement, it is well-tolerated as a short-term treatment for joint pain and discomfort. Long-term consumption may lead to mild gastrointestinal discomfort.

Collagen: Though collagen should not be taken as a pain-relief medication, daily collagen supplementation may help support joint health and mobility. In one 24-week study on athletes, daily collagen consumption was linked to decreased joint pain and faster recovery compared to the placebo. It may also be helpful in preventing joint pain and arthritis, especially osteoarthritis. It is also used to strengthen the gut lining if you are in need of help recovering from NSAID-related gastrointestinal upset.

Supplements you should skip (for now)

Glucosamine: Glucosamine is a natural compound found in cartilage. There are three forms of glucosamine that are commonly used to treat arthritis pain: glucosamine sulfate, glucosamine hydrochloride, and N-acetyl glucosamine. While glucosamine is considered safe, more clinical evidence is needed before we can say that it can effectively treat rheumatoid or osteoarthritis pain.

Chondroitin sulfate: Chondroitin is a complex sugar and another important component of cartilage. Studies have found that chondroitin supplementation may reduce the activity of enzymes and other substances that can break down collagen in the joints. Chondroitin sulfate is often recommended alongside glucosamine as it may have complementary effects. However, because nausea, heartburn, and stomach upset are known side effects of this supplement, it may not be your best choice.

Turmeric (Curcumin): Turmeric is another widely available and effective anti-inflammatory supplement thanks to its active ingredient curcumin. Data from randomized clinical trials revealed that curcumin supplements were more effective than some anti-inflammatory prescription drugs at managing joint pain and inflammation, including osteoarthritis-related knee pain. However, some people have found that taking turmeric supplements can cause stomach upset. A better alternative may be to take a low-dose turmeric supplement alongside another anti-inflammatory supplement such as Boswellia Serrata.

Avocado-soybean unsaponifiables (ASUs): Avocado-soybean unsaponifiables are chemicals found in avocado and soybean oils. While few studies have been done to show the effect of ASU supplementation on joint pain, they do contain ingredients like vitamin E which may improve joint health. Until more solid studies are done, ASUs are considered "possibly safe" and should only be taken under the supervision of a healthcare professional.

S-adenosyl-methionine (SAM-e): SAM-e is a compound that's produced naturally in the body. It has been used to treat depression for decades and some studies have found that it is effective at managing osteoarthritis pain as well as some NSAID painkillers. Since dosages of SAME-e are relatively high at 600-1,200 milligrams per day and side effects may include stomach upset, it should only be taken in low doses or when recommended by a doctor.

The Bottom Line

For indigestion-free pain relief, your best bets may be Boswellia Serrata, Omega-3s, GLA, Cat's Claw, or Devil's Claw. The other commonly used joint relief supplements either have little evidence to support them or are known to cause stomach upset. In any case, if you are struggling with joint pain, consider speaking to a healthcare professional to create a complete therapy and supplementation plan.

Summary Points

  • Issues arise when the inflammation either occurs erroneously, such as with autoimmune disorders where the body perceives its own cells or tissues as harmful, or when the inflammation becomes chronic
  • Chronic use of NSAIDS, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, comes with many side effects including stomach ulcers and irritation, nausea, and heartburn
  • Boswellia's effectiveness stems from preventing the formation of leukotrienes, inflammatory chemicals, in the body
  • If the "fish burps" and heartburn of traditional fish oil supplements scare you off, there are now vegan-friendly algal oil supplements that contain both DHA and EPA that rarely cause stomach upset or indigestion




Also in Amandean Wellness Center

Glutathione and the Post-2021 Alcohol Haze
Glutathione and the Post-2021 Alcohol Haze

January 24, 2022

Whether you're joining in on the "dry January" trend, or you just feel like your body is in serious need of a detox, glutathione is the answer. Being the master antioxidant, glutathione doesn't only play a major role in the detoxification process, but it also has a pronounced protective role when it comes to free radicals and oxidative stress. Glutathione is a great addition to your nutrition whether you're considering quitting alcohol altogether, you want a major post-holiday detox, or you need something to help you prevent or at least decrease the grueling hangover symptoms in the future. While many dietary sources can promote its production, glutathione levels are best increased by incorporating a high-quality liposomal glutathione supplement.

Continue Reading

Why Take Vegan Omega-3 With Vitamin D3 and K2?
Why Take Vegan Omega-3 With Vitamin D3 and K2?

January 21, 2022

When you walk into a grocery store or drug store, there are shelves filled with vitamins and minerals, and you may be wondering: Is it ok to take supplements like vitamin D and omega-3s together? According to surveys, vitamin D and omega-3 are in the top ten most popular supplements for US citizens. There's no risk in combining these supplements for the average person with no health complications. In fact, there could be significant health benefits.

Continue Reading

Tattoo Aftercare - How to Make Old Tattoos Look New
Tattoo Aftercare - How to Make Old Tattoos Look New

January 20, 2022

What is a tattoo and how does its healing process affect its longevity? Do all tattoos have to fade away after a certain period of time, or does this process depend on the tattoo aftercare? Here's what you can do to take good care of your skin, revive your tattoos, and make sure they remain fresh-looking for years to come.

Continue Reading