A number of herbal, botanical and other natural products are promoted as osteoarthritis supplements and different sources make different recommendations concerning the effectiveness and safety of these products. Over the years, there have been many separate studies concerning osteoarthritis and omega 3 fatty acids, green lipped mussel extract, glucosamine and chondroitin, SAM-E and MSM. All of which showed at least some positive results.
On the other hand, there are some products being marketed as osteoarthritis supplements that have little or no supportive research. One example is emu oil, which is advertised as a “proven” treatment for muscle aches and pains. While there have been some published studies on the anti-inflammatory effect of emu oil applied to the skin of “scalded rats”, clinical studies are lacking.
When purchasing any dietary supplement, consumers should use caution and avoid products that make exaggerated claims or refer to secret formulas. Choose a manufacturer that is reputable, provides a variety of health supplements and lists detailed ingredients. In addition, it is important to consult your health care professional, particularly if you suffer from other conditions. Some osteoarthritis supplements are not appropriate for use by everyone. For example, green lipped mussel extract should not be used by persons allergic to shellfish.
In the case of joint pain, rheumatoid and osteoarthrits and omega 3 fatty acids, there has been so much research that meta-analyses have been compiled. In a meta-analysis, researchers compile the results of studies performed by other researchers, evaluate the research for scientific merit and then publish those results. Because research results are often various and conflicting, a meta-analysis usually gives a more accurate picture of the safety and effectiveness of a substance.
In 17 randomized controlled clinical trials concerning joint pain associated with several inflammatory conditions, patients who received omega 3 supplements for 3-4 months reported reduced intensity of joint pain, less morning stiffness, fewer painful or tender joints and a decreased use of pain medication. No negative side effects were reported. Most professionals accept that nutritional supplements may be beneficial in osteoarthritis and omega 3 fatty acids provide additional health benefits, as well.
Osteoarthritis supplements containing an extract from the New Zealand green lipped mussel were found to be very effective in a study of 60 patients with knee and hip pain. After 4 weeks of taking two capsules twice a day, there was significant improvement of joint function and 53% of the patients reported significant pain relief. After 8 weeks, the percentage rose to 80%. In other studies, combining the mussel extract for osteoarthritis and omega 3 fatty acids supplementation improved walking pace and reduced other symptoms, such as joint swelling.
According to the University of Maryland's Medical website:
". . . . New Zealand green lipped mussel ( Perna canaliculus ), another potential source of omega-3 fatty acids, has been shown to reduce joint stiffness and pain, increase grip strength, and enhance walking pace in a small group of people with osteoarthritis. "
Scientists have shown in the laboratory that omega 3 fatty acid supplements decrease the degradation of the protective cartilage cushions between the joints that at one time was simply believed to be an inevitable part of the aging process. In a conclusion published by researchers at Cardiff University it was stated that osteoarthritis supplements containing omega 3 fatty acids have the “beneficial effect of slowing and reducing inflammation”.
The recommendations of other supplements by various groups and professionals are based on other research. A meta-analysis conducted by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality evaluated 10 studies concerning the effectiveness of osteoarthritis supplements containing SAM-E, of these, one large clinical study showed a small decrease in pain. In addition, studies have shown that both omega 3 fatty acids and SAM-E effectively reduce symptoms of depression, but there are concerns about possible side effects from long term use of SAM-E.
Although glucosamine and chondroitin, the build blocks of cartilage, are popular osteoarthritis supplements, a large clinical trial conducted by the National Institute of Health showed no benefit for osteoarthritis pain relief. Reported side effects include nausea, diarrhea, constipation, heartburn and gas. Safety for long term use has not been established.
Studies concerning osteoarthritis and omega 3 fatty acids show more positive results than glucosamine/chondroitin trials, but some health care professionals still recommend glucosamine/chondroitin combinations for arthritis patients, along with MSM, another compound needed for healthy connective tissue and joint function. MSM has little rigorous scientific research supporting its use, but processing foods does remove the natural MSM content. And, chronically low levels of MSM in the diet could predispose a person for degenerative joint disease, later in life.
Of all the osteoarthritis supplements mentioned here and others evaluated by researchers, there is the most scientific evidence supporting the use of omega-3 fatty acids and the extract from the New Zealand green lipped mussel for the relief of pain in osteoarthritis. Maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly and focusing on good nutrition are also important parts of a complete treatment plan.
Dan Ho is editor of http://www.omega-3-fish-oil-guide.com/Fish_oil_arthritis.html Visit us now to get advice on how to select a quality omega 3 supplement that contains New Zealand green lipped mussel.