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May 07, 2021 6 min read

In this article:

  • Arthritis: an overview
  • Collagen peptides
  • Boswellia Serrata
  • Other complementary supplements for joint health

Arthritis: An Overview

For those unfamiliar with arthritis, it's much more than having sore hands from cracking your fingers despite your mother's warnings. In the United States alone, 23% of all adults, totalling over 54 million people, have arthritis. Of those 54 million, about half reported the need to restrict their activities due to a general lack of mobility or to avoid associated pain. Against popular belief, arthritis does not occur only in the elderly and doesn't just affect one area of the body. In actuality, there are over 100 different types of arthritis that can develop at any age.

The two most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis (OA), which affects over 32.5 million Americans, and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) which affects about 1.3 million Americans. Osteoarthritis, often called “degenerative joint disease”, is the result of the breakdown of cartilage in your joints. The symptoms of osteoarthritis include severe swelling, inflammation, lack of mobility, and joint pain. It often develops in the hands, hips, and knees. The risk for osteoarthritis is influenced by gender, family history, weight, injury, and age. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder in which the body's immune system attacks its own tissue and joints. Unlike osteoarthritis which typically results in joint pain, swelling, and inflammation, the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis can also include muscle aches and fatigue.

The treatment of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis is usually difficult and requires a holistic approach. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen and aspirin are commonly taken over the counter or prescribed to help manage joint pain and inflammation, but they often come with a laundry list of potential side effects. One study titled "The dangers of NSAIDs: look both ways" reported that NSAIDs are responsible for about 30% of hospital admissions involving adverse drug reactions, mainly due to bleeding, heart attack, stroke, and renal damage.

Arthritis can be triggered by a number of factors, and relying solely on NSAIDs for pain relief can cause additional harm. Consider talking to your doctor about trying some dietary supplementation with collagen and boswellia serrata for a side effect-free, natural approach to managing arthritis.

Collagen Peptides

Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body. It's often thought of as "scaffolding" for your connective tissues; it gives your joints, ligaments, skin, blood vessels, muscles, and even your eyes flexible yet sturdy support. After the age of about twenty, we steadily begin losing collagen throughout our bodies. Simultaneously, our risk of osteoporosis increases, and the collagen that comprises articular cartilage, which is the tissue that covers the ends of bones at the joints, starts to deteriorate.

There are many different types of collagen, each with a slightly different function. For instance, type I collagen is great for skincare and injury recovery. When it comes to joint health, type II collagen is your go-to. Type II collagen is mainly found in the joint spaces and ligaments. By consuming highly bioavailable collagen, it may help to stimulate your body's own collagen production and accumulate in cartilage that has been damaged due to arthritis. In a randomized, controlled trial, athletes were given 10mg of collagen per day. At the end of 24 weeks they reported less joint pain and inflammation, both while walking and at rest, compared to those who had taken the placebo. Similarly, another clinical trial conducted on older adults found that daily collagen supplementation helped to reduce joint pain and improve mobility.

Additionally, collagen is a great "companion" to exercise and weight loss. Collagen can help you feel fuller longer, so your meals are more satisfying without the need for extra calories. It can also help build muscle and experience quicker recovery during physical therapy, in addition to helping alleviate osteoarthritis pain.

Preliminary clinical studies show promise for using collagen to ease joint pain. In general, collagen is considered safe to take on a daily basis. Many people use collagen to help ease knee joint pain or back pain, while also reaping the benefits of younger, more youthful skin. One of the potential side effects of taking too much collagen is an upset stomach, so follow the recommended dosage of 10mg or less in your daily cup of coffee or tea. Talk to a healthcare professional about using collagen as part of your arthritis pain plan and discover which type of collagen is right for you.

Boswellia Serrata

Boswellia is an extract from the boswellia serrata tree, originating in India. It is also commonly known as “Indian frankincense” and is collected in the form of resins. It's a common, holistic alternative to NSAIDs as it has been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine for its anti-inflammatory properties. Its active component, boswellic acid, can prevent the formation of leukotrienes in the body, a primary cause of inflammation. Additionally, boswellia is a COX-2 inhibitor which makes it a great, natural pain reliever.

In one particular study, boswellia serrata extract was given to patients with osteoarthritis of the knee. At the end of eight weeks, 100% of those who received the supplement had less knee pain and more flexibility than the placebo group. These results have been replicated showing that boswellia may be an effective, natural supplement for those with knee OA. When it comes to rheumatoid arthritis, results weren't quite as conclusive. Some studies found that boswellia supplementation did lead to reduced inflammation and swelling of the joints, but particular caution is given as to how it may alter your immune response. In general, boswellia is viewed as a safe and effective supplement for those with arthritis.

Other Complementary Supplements for Joint Health

Because collagen is naturally produced by the body, it is considered safe to take with many other supplements. According to systematic reviews, some additional supplements that may improve your joint function are:

  • Turmeric or Curcumin: Turmeric, aka curcuma longa, is another safe, natural, and effective supplement for managing inflammation. It can be taken alongside boswellia serrata to help ease inflammation brought on by autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Ginger: Ginger concentrate has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties similar to ibuprofen. On many occasions, ginger extract was found to be effective in treating rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis pain.
  • Fish Oil/Omega-3 Fatty Acids: A meta-analysis of 17 studies found that taking omega-3 fatty acid supplements decreased joint pain intensity and helped individuals to use fewer NSAIDs and prescribed pain medications.
  • Chondroitin Sulfate & Glucosamine Sulfate:Both chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine sulfate are components of cartilage. Studies show that glucosamine may not only inhibit the breakdown of cartilage, but may also help to build up more cartilage. Glucosamine sulfate has been compared to acetaminophen and other NSAIDs for pain relief, yet it comes with far fewer side effects.
  • Avocado-Soybean Unsaponifiables (ASU):ASUs are natural vegetable extracts that act as a pain reliever with anti-inflammatory properties. They may help to slow the progression of symptomatic OA, while reducing pain and stiffness.
  • Vitamin D: Several studies have found that people with osteoarthritis are often deficient in vitamin D. Some studies have even proposed that women living in northern latitudes, who are likely to be deficient in vitamin D, are at higher risk of rheumatoid arthritis. Vitamin D supplements are a safe and effective way to raise vitamin D levels without sun exposure.
  • CBD Oil:While animal studies have suggested that CBD is an effective anti-inflammatory and pain reliever, its effect on humans is still being researched. Anecdotally, many people with arthritis find that it helps with pain relief.

Joint function and flexibility is directly related to your mobility and quality of life. For all cases of arthritis, the American College of Rheumatology and the Arthritis Foundation (ACR/AF) recommend it is treated through diet, lifestyle changes, physical therapy, and natural pain relievers, but never supplements alone. As always, your doctor will be able to help you find the best, holistic, natural, health plan for treating your arthritis for the long run.

Summary Points

  • The two most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis (OA), which affects over 32.5 million Americans, and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) which affects about 1.3 million Americans
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen and aspirin are commonly taken over the counter or prescribed to help manage joint pain and inflammation, but they often come with a laundry list of potential side effects
  • By consuming highly bioavailable collagen, it may help to stimulate your body's own collagen production and accumulate in cartilage that has been damaged due to arthritis
  • Boswellia is a common, holistic alternative to NSAIDs as it has been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine for its anti-inflammatory properties

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