Millions of Canadians suffer from chronic joint pain as a result of aging (wear and tear) and prolonged or repeated exposure to physical stress (hard training athletes, dancers, overuse, injuries, surgery, etc.). And while most people may associate degenerative joint conditions uniquely with the geriatric population, the fact of the matter is that our musculoskeletal system starts to show signs of aging as early as the age of 30. Indeed, as the body ages, wear and tear of our daily lives starts to affect the health of our joints, resulting in thinning of cartilage and compromising the integrity of our musculoskeletal system. This is why joint pain is something that affects people in all age groups.
Managing Joint Pain Naturally
When it comes to effectively managing joint pain and degenerative joint conditions, adhering to a clean and healthy lifestyle is key. The Arthritis Diet/Joint Health Diet, which is rich in whole foods, including fruits, vegetables, fish, nuts, and beans, but low in processed foods and saturated fat, is a great place to start. You should also ideally look to include foods that are high in collagen, glucosamine and chondroitin such as bone broth, fruits and vegetables and healthy fats which provide the musculoskeletal system with all of the nutrients it needs to remain strong and to recover from everyday wear and tear. Regular physical exercise has also been shown to promote healthy joints across the lifespan, as well as to maintain joint flexibility and prevent joint stiffness. Natural health supplements for joint health have also been gaining steadily in popularity in recent years and for good reason!
Supplements for Healthy Joints
While the go-to approach to managing joint pain and degenerative joint conditions has long been over-the-counter painkillers and prescription medications (including NSAIDs), each of these comes with a range of very real and potentially very serious side effects and long-term health consequences. Just as importantly, these only help mask the pain transiently but do nothing to address the underlying cause. This explains why consumers have been turning to natural health solutions in droves in search of safer and more effective natural alternatives that work not only to relieve pain but to help prevent further deterioration (and in many cases, regenerate tissue).
Below are some of the most well-researched and proven supplement solutions to support joint health/treat joint pain.
NEM (Natural Eggshell Membrane) is an increasingly popular supplement and a rich source of glycosaminoglycans, including chondroitin sulfate and hyaluronic acid, both of which are responsible for supporting collagen and elastin, two key structural proteins in the body. As if that weren’t impressive enough, NEM has been shown to boost the production of chondroitin sulfate, a critical component of cartilage and a compound that helps form hyaline cartilage in the body, a connective tissue that cushions the joints. This explains why studies have shown that NEM supplementation helps mitigate the symptoms of osteoarthritis and joint pain and stiffness in general, usually in a very timely manner.
Serrapeptase – is a proteolytic enzyme that has garnered a well-deserved reputation as a natural anti-inflammatory and analgesic and is commonly used for conditions such as back pain, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, as well as for most conditions generally associated with pain and swelling (inflammation). Serrapeptase is also renowned for its ability to reduce scar tissue and improve tissue healing, so goes far beyond mere pain reduction/symptom control.
Glucosamine & Chondroitin– though this tag team may have the reputation of arthritis / joint health supplement on the market, they, in fact, offer far more to health.
Glucosamine is found naturally in joint cartilage and possesses potent natural anti-inflammatory benefits. It acts as a natural shock-absorber/joint lubricator, allowing joints to move around freely without pain. Glucosamine is also able to rebuild damaged tissue in the musculoskeletal system, so constitutes both a pain relief approach and a long-term solution.
Chondroitin is a compound that is found naturally in human and animal cartilage. It is an essential part of hyaline cartilage, a tissue that cushions joints. Studies have shown that chondroitin helps repair/regenerate cartilage and can help prevent cartilage from deteriorating in the first place. Chondroitin is often paired with glucosamine because research has shown they multiply each other’s benefits.
Curcumin is arguably one of the most powerful natural anti-inflammatories and by large, one of the most thoroughly researched and proven. It is extensively used for all kinds of conditions with an inflammatory component and especially for conditions affecting the joints. Indeed, curcumin has been studied and proven to be more effective at controlling pain and inflammation, including tenderness, swelling of the joints and reduced range of motion than the leading prescription medication, with zero adverse effects. It’s worth reminding people that with reduced inflammation comes less tissue damage.
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body and is found abundantly in muscles, bones, skin, blood vessels, the digestive system and tendons, which explains its benefits for joint health. Collagen is essential to the health and function of the musculoskeletal system and is especially critical to preventing tissue breakdown and stimulating tissue repair. Collagen is also frequently recommended post-injury or fracture to help enhance healing, accelerate recovery, reduce joint pain and degeneration and generally support convalescence.
MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) is an organic sulfur compound that naturally occurs in the human body. MSM has been shown to decrease joint inflammation, improve flexibility and restore collagen production, as well as help form connective tissue and repair joints, tendons, and ligaments. This is why MSM is often sold combined with other joint support nutrients, in combination joint blends for both pain relief and tissue regeneration.
If you’re looking for a quality joint support supplement that’s going to live up to the hype, look for one from a reputable brand that offers full label disclosure and third-party testing to ensure the ultimate in purity, potency, and efficacy.
Disclaimer: The information in this article is intended for educational and informational purposes only and should not be considered as a substitute for medical advice. Please consult your practitioner prior to taking herbs or nutritional supplements.
Roos Jonsin is a Canadian naturopath and researcher dedicated to helping people live healthier lives through education about vitamins, herbs, and nutritional supplements. Roos also consults with suppliers and manufacturers with product development and marketing. National Nutrition is Canada’s leading health & nutritional supplements store, also voted as the Best Health Food Store in Canada by the experts at Canadian Health Food Association.