Managing Pain And Inflammation Naturally
James Meschino DC, MS, ROHP
Most people of heard that taking glucosamine can treat arthritic problems by helping to restore and maintain the integrity of joint cartilage. But the story doesn’t end there. In arthritic conditions, and in other painful joint and muscle inflammatory conditions, there are natural anti-inflammatory agents that can also help to get your feeling better and keep you more functional on a day-to-day basis.
In recent years we have learned that inflammation (which is at the root of many painful conditions), stems from the production of mini-hormones called prostaglandins. It also stems from the secretion of other chemicals secreted by immune cells known as cytokines. Aspirin and other anti-inflammatory/pain killers block the production of inflammatory prostaglandins. Some anti-inflammatory medications even block the production of inflammatory cytokines by overzealous immune cells. The problem is that a heavy dependence on these drugs can cause stomach irritation, intestinal ulcers and even internal bleeding, as well as liver and kidney damage.
In the world of natural medicine, several herbal agents have shown a remarkable ability to block the production of nflammatory prostaglandins and inhibit the release of inflammatory cytokines as well. Curcumin, from the spice turmeric, has shown a remarkable ability to reduce pain and inflammation in various clinical and investigative studies. Like aspirin, curcumin blocks the enzyme the produces prostaglandin- series 2. This blocks the inflammatory process. Curcumin has also been shown to block the release of inflammatory cytokines from immune cells, which means it can even help in cases of autoimmune conditions when inflammation is problem. I am also impressed with the research involving the herbs, Boswellia, White Willow Extract and Ginger. These herbs also suppress inflammation without damaging the intestinal lining or causing internal organ damage.
As such I often recommend to patients with joint or muscle inflammatory conditions that they take a supplement that contains the following ingredients and doses:
Turmeric (standardized to 95% Curcumin) – 210 mg
Boswellia (standardized to 70% Boswellic Acids) – 200 mg
White Willow Extract (standardized to 15% salicin) – 33.3 mg
Ginger Root (standardized to 5% gingerols) – 50 mg
I normally have the patient take 3 capsules, three times daily to get the inflammation and pain under control. Then they can wean themselves down to a lower dosage (e.g. 2 capsules, twice daily) until we find the lowest dosage that maintains the benefit.
You can take this combination of herbs in conjunction with other anti-inflammatory medications or pain-killers. The intent is to get you less reliant on synthetic drugs that can produce the side effects noted above. If your condition is quite severe or extensive you may still need to take these medications, but hopefully at lower doses and less frequently, with the help of the herbal combination I have outlined.
Of course, eating a lower animal fat diet and supplementing with a combination of fish, borage seed and flaxseed oils, along with taking a high potency multiple vitamin and mineral (that is antioxidant enriched), will also help to keep inflammation at bay, naturally.