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Joint Effort

Some remedies may work better together for arthritis and joint pain. Plus: new and exciting options

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When joints are ailing, there’s a tendency to look for one thing we can take or do to remedy the situation. However, relief often comes from a therapeutic combination.

A study of 36 people between the ages of 42 and 73, with osteoarthritis in the knee or hip, found that glucosamine supplements combined with walking brought significant relief from pain and improved joint function. Each person took 1,500 milligrams of glucosamine sulfate daily for six weeks and then, while continuing to take the supplement, began a walking program. In the study, published in Arthritis Research & Therapy, 3,000 steps (measured with a pedometer), or approximately 30 minutes of walking, three times per week, produced considerable improvement.

Synergistic Supplements
In addition to long-standing joint formulas found on supplement shelves, research shows that there is synergy among these remedies:

Fish Oil and Glucosamine
Fish oil reduces inflammation while glucosamine helps to protect cartilage. A study of 177 people with osteoarthritis in the hip or knee, published in Advances in Therapy, found that together, these two supplements provided significant relief of pain and stiffness for 27 percent more participants than glucosamine alone. On a daily basis, participants took 1,500 milligrams of glucosamine sulfate plus slightly less than 0.5 grams of fish oil, containing 200 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA).


46 million Americans suffer from arthritis, and according to experts, 40 percent of U.S. adults will have the condition by 2030.

Earlier research found that omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil can prevent and relieve rheumatoid arthritis, by inhibiting inflammation that causes pain and deforms joints. The ability of fish oil to counteract rheumatic conditions was first documented in a British medical journal in the 1700s. More recently, research supporting such benefits has been published in the Journal of Clinical Epidemiology and other scientific journals.

MSM and Vitamin K
MSM is a popular natural pain reliever. It protects cartilage by reducing damaging inflammation and has been shown to reduce osteoarthritis symptoms in research published in Clinical Drug Investigation and other journals. Lab and animal research has also shown that a specific form of MSM, known as OptiMSM, protects cartilage and other tissue surrounding joints from degradation. (OptiMSM is an ingredient available in joint formulas, such as Paradise Herbs MSM, Jarrow Formulas MSM, and Nature’s Way MSM.)

Vitamin K prevents bone loss by helping with calcium utilization and is necessary for maintaining healthy bone. Very recently, vitamin K has been combined with MSM in a new proprietary formula, OptiMSM K-Blend, to protect both cartilage and bones. Watch for products containing this potent duo.

Shea Nut Extract
An age-old remedy used in traditional African medicine, shea nut oil has been concentrated with today’s technology in a proprietary extract known as SheaFlex70 (found in products such as Flex Now Joint Formula). The shea nut contains an oil high in triterpenes, nature’s precursors to steroids our bodies can produce to fight inflammation. Unlike steroids in drugs, natural triterpenes relieve pain without side effects.

The anti-inflammatory action of the shea supplement addresses different aspects of cartilage than glucosamine and chondroitin, and can be synergistic with these.

In a study of 89 people with osteoarthritis in the knee or hip, published in Phytotherapy Research, SheaFlex70 significantly reduced several different types of inflammation that damages both cartilage and bone. In another study, published in the Journal of Musculoskeletal Pain, the supplement reduced muscle tenderness after intense hand exercises.

Other Ingredients in Formulas
On the supplement shelf, these are some of the ingredients found in joint formulas. All are available in capsules and most are also in skin creams, lotions, or ointments.

Chondroitin: Stimulates cartilage growth and production of synovial fluid, which absorbs shock and lubricates the joint.

Celadrin: A proprietary form of fatty acids, it works on cell membranes to control inflammation and relieve pain.

Avocado soybean unsaponifiables (ASUs): Natural extracts of avocados and soybeans, ASUs relieve symptoms of osteoarthritis.

Rosehips: Nutrient-rich and have been shown in clinical research to certain key biochemical markers related to joint health.

Product Examples:

ReNew Life Norwegian Gold Ultimate Fish Oils Critical Omega is burp-free and ultraconcentrated-it contains a whopping 840 milligrams of omega-3s per gel.

Bluebonnet Omega-3 Joint Formula comes in easy-to-swallow softgels and provides EPA and DHA from Norwegian deep sea cold-water fish.

Solgar Extra Strength Glucosamine Chondroitin MSM with Ester-C is specially formulated to maintain your joints and cartilage and will also help ease exercise-related joint stress.

Natural Factors Celadrin Joint Health contains Celadrin, an all-natural proprietary ingredient that boosts joint health and mobility.

DSM Nutritional Products i-flex soothes joints and improves flexibility with specially cultivated rosehips, a powerful type of anti-inflammatory.