With the onset of warmer weather, many of us are getting out and about more, and kickstarting vigorous exercise regimens. This is great for overall health and wellness, but going too hard too soon can set you back, so watch out for joint pain and swelling and know how to use inflammation-busting supplements to your advantage.
What is inflammation in the body?
Inflammation is a vital part of the immune system’s response to injury and infection. It signals to the body to begin healing and repairing damaged tissue. Inflammation also triggers an immune system response to If we didn’t have inflammation, infection would run rampant and wounds would fester and not heal, but if inflammation continues after it has served its purpose, this can cause damage to healthy tissue.
When inflammation becomes chronic, that is, if it goes on for months or even years, it can lead to ongoing joint pain, abdominal pain, changes in mood and happiness, fatigue, rashes, and other symptoms. Chronic inflammation can also cause severe damage to healthy tissues and can lay the groundwork for disease.
So, what causes chronic inflammation? A whole host of things, including:
- Environmental toxins – such as in air pollution and pesticide exposure
- Oxidative stress – linked to smoking, alcohol consumption, and diets high in sugar, fat, and processed foods
- Infections – particularly if persistent or recurring
- Allergens – especially if persistent, such as in a living or work environment with mold issues
- Chronic stress – which can be worsened by unhealthy coping habits
- Leaky gut – which increases the likelihood of allergens and toxins entering the bloodstream and can compromise proper nutrient absorption (inflammation can also contribute to a leaky gut, creating a vicious circle)
Other causes of inflammation can be mechanical and acute in nature, such as repeated sporting injuries, broken bones, cuts, wounds, or burns. Age-related wear and tear are also a cause of chronic inflammation, with the lifelong breakdown of tissues often made worse by certain lifestyle choices and an unhealthy diet.
What to do about inflammation and pain
The key to managing inflammation and pain is to identify, wherever possible, the cause. If there’s an opportunity to remove or reduce the cause of inflammation and pain, this is by far the best approach. This might mean making alterations to diet, lifestyle, living and working conditions, medications, and so forth and isn’t always easy. The pay-off can be huge though and there are various supports available for anyone looking to, say, quit smoking, and make dietary changes for the better.
Which brings us to another key strategy in managing inflammation and pain: , (such as fresh fruits and vegetables). This can be paired with a gut-friendly diet to help support overall immune function through a better functioning gut barrier.
Other good ways to tackle inflammation include:
- Getting moderate exercise under safe conditions – this might mean switching out high-impact running for more regular walks or biking, or taking up swimming (where the water supports your weight)
- Reducing avoidable stress and finding better ways to manage stress – such as reading and relaxation techniques, warm baths with magnesium salts, massage, talking with friends and family, gardening and nature walks
- Getting adequate sleep – and not just more sleep, but better sleep, with modifications to your mattress and pillow, use of a body pillow, and installing blackout curtains and a noise machine if necessary
- Engaging with manual therapies – such as acupuncture, massage, physiotherapy, and even flotation tank sessions to help the body relax and get stronger
Finally, you may also want to look at natural health products that have a reputation as inflammation-busting supplements.
Supplements for inflammation and joint pain
Popular natural health products to tackle inflammation and joint pain include:
- Glucosamine, chondroitin, and MSM (methylsulfonylmethane)
- Palmitoylethanolamide (PEA)
- Curcumin – from turmeric root
- Omega-3 fatty acids
- Herbal anti-inflammatories – such as ginger and boswellia
- Antioxidants – such as in green tea extracts
Let’s take a closer look at the first three on this list.
Glucosamine, chondroitin, and MSM
Glucosamine, chondroitin, and MSM are well-known supportive nutrients for long-term joint health. They help lubricate joints and are natural components of healthy joint tissue, providing building blocks for the cushioning cartilage in the joints.
Long-term supplementation with glucosamine has been shown to reduce joint pain, improve joint mobility, and reduce the progression of osteoarthritis. A review of high-quality trials found that glucosamine reduced progression of knee osteoarthritis by 54% and overall knee pain by 41%, and improved joint function by 46%.
Chondroitin has been shown to reduce the activity of enzymes that break down collagen in joints and to reduce inflammation, decrease joint pain, and improve joint function. MSM, meanwhile, is essential for connective tissue health, and acts as an analgesic to reduce joint pain.[2,3]
You’ll find all three of these important elements for joint health in Natural Factors , alongside InflamReliefTM, boswellia extract, turmeric extract, hydrolyzed collagen type II, hyaluronic acid, manganese, and boron to further support joint health. This inflammation-busting supplement offers fast relief for chronic pain without common side effects, including helping to relieve joint pain associated with osteoarthritis, such as osteoarthritis of the knee. It can help protect against deterioration of joint cartilage, help restore flexibility and joint integrity, and help in the development and maintenance of bones.
Palmitoylethanolamide, or PEA is a natural fatty acid-like compound first found in chicken egg yolk, but now also known to be present in human milk, alfalfa, soybeans, and peanuts. We also produce PEA ourselves in certain nervous and immune system cells (microglial and mast cells). PEA is part of the endocannabinoid system, with the body producing endocannabinoid-like molecules like PEA to deal with bodily stress, inflammation, or pain.
Natural Factors PEA400 is a chronic pain relief formula made from non-GMO safflower seed oil. This vegan-friendly, plant-based therapy helps relieve chronic pain and discomfort, including pain associated with nerve compression and inflammatory conditions.
Curcumin from turmeric
Curcumin is the compound that gives turmeric its familiar bright yellow-orange colour and is also responsible in large part for the medicinal properties traditionally ascribed to turmeric, including helping to handle inflammation and pain. Unfortunately, regular curcumin is relatively insoluble in water and is rapidly excreted from the body, meaning that we don’t get much in the way of anti-inflammatory benefits from dietary turmeric or conventional curcumin supplements.
Theracurmin® is the best-absorbed curcumin available and is created using proprietary manufacturing methods that dramatically increase curcumin solubility and bioavailability. The process is entirely natural, no synthetic chemicals are used, and the result is a major breakthrough in curcumin pharmacology, with both animal and human studies showing no side effects and significantly better results than other curcumin preparations.
Natural Factors Theracurmin helps support a healthy inflammatory response and can help improve joint function and reduce osteoarthritic joint pain. This is the number of curcumin on the market and is more bioavailable than other leading forms of curcumin‡ , contains no major allergens or GMOs, and is suitable for vegetarians and vegans.
There are many ways to manage and prevent inflammation and associated pain, and if the warmer weather has you raring to rush outside and get active, it can help to have some inflammation-busting supplements and strategies on hand, just in case. These natural health products are also helpful for anyone already managing inflammation and joint pain, and who wants to experience the additional health benefits of more regular moderate exercise without exacerbating existing health concerns.
If you have extreme joint pain and swelling, or if symptoms persist or worsen, contact your health care practitioner for advice.
‡Detailed absorption studies have proven that Theracurmin is the best-absorbed form of curcumin on the market* on a milligram-to-milligram basis. This improved absorption with Theracurmin is extremely important in getting the health benefits curcumin provides.
*As measured by SPINS 2014 data.
- Poolsup N, Suthisisang C, Channark P, et al., Glucosamine long-term treatment and the progression of knee osteoarthritis: systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Ann Pharmacother, 2005, 39:1080-7.
- Mazieres B, Combe B, Phan Van A, et al. Chondroitin sulfate in osteoarthritis of the knee: a prospective, double blind, placebo controlled multicenter clinical study. J Rheumatol, 2001, 28:173-81.
- Joung YH, Lim EJ, Darvin P, et al. MSM Enhances GH Signaling via the Jak2/STAT5b Pathway in Osteoblast-Like Cells and Osteoblast Differentiation through the Activation of STAT5b in MSCs. PLoS ONE, 2012, 7(10), e47477.
- Keppel Hesselink JM, de Boer T, Witkamp RF. Palmitoylethanolamide: A Natural Body-Own Anti-Inflammatory Agent, Effective and Safe against Influenza and Common Cold. Int J Inflam. 2013;2013:151028.
- Shimatsu A, Kakeya H, Imaizumi A, et al. Clinical application of “curcumin”, a multi-functional substance. Anti-Aging Med, 2012, 9(2), 75-83.
- Kanai M, Imaizumi A, Otsuka Y, et al. Dose-escalation and pharmacokinetic study of nanoparticle curcumin, a potential anticancer agent with improved bioavailability, in healthy human volunteers. Cancer Chemother Pharmacol, 2012, 69(1), 65-70.