Which of these 4 alternative arthritis remedies actually work?

November 14, 2014

Is your arthritis pain becoming unbearable? Discover the benefits and drawbacks of four alternative arthritis treatments.

Which of these 4 alternative arthritis remedies actually work?

Arthritis, or inflammation of the joints, is a painful condition marked by joint pain, tenderness and difficulty moving.

  • Sixteen per cent of Canadians over the age of 15 suffer from this condition.
  • Although there is no cure, several alternative arthritis treatments are available to improve an affected individual's quality of life.

1. Glucosamine sulfate

Glucosamine sulfate, an amino sugar, is used as a dietary supplement to treat arthritis pain.

  • Read your supplement's label carefully: experts caution that while glucosamine sulfate seems as though it may be effective in treating arthritis, glucosamine hydrochloride is not.
  • Additionally, neither seems to be effective in the long-term, and some researchers remain skeptical.
  • Patients using glucosamine sulfate should take 1,500 milligrams once a day in order to see the best effects.

Side effects

  • Don't exceed the recommended dose of glucosamine, because this can cause rashes, diarrhea, headaches and constipation.
  • There's also evidence that a sustained high dose of glucosamine over time may affect pancreatic cells, increasing an individual's risk of diabetes.

2. Chondroitin sulfate

Chondroitin is a substance related to glucosamine that is also often used to ease arthritis pain.

  • It may be used individually, or together with glucosamine.
  • Like glucosamine, chondroitin hasn't been conclusively proven to ease pain, although there are studies that show promise.
  • Patients should take 800 to 1,200 milligrams of chondroitin daily in order to see positive effects.

Side effects

  • Notably, there are virtually no negative side effects of chondroitin supplementation.

3. Acupuncture

Acupuncture is a form of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) where a trained practitioner inserts thin needles shallowly into certain spots on a patient's skin.

  • These needles regulate what TCM identifies as chi, the body's vital force.
  • While the effectiveness of acupuncture is still in question, its use for relief of arthritis pain is cautiously supported by studies.

Side effects

  • Acupuncture generally has few if any side effects when conducted by a trained, licensed practitioner using standard, sterile needles.

4. Capsaicin cream

Capsaicin is what makes peppers spicy.

  • When applied to skin up to four times a day, it can relieve the pain of arthritis and other conditions.
  • Researchers aren't sure how it works, although many suspect it blocks nerve channels that relay pain signals.

Side effects

  • Capsaicin can irritate the skin or even cause an allergic reaction, so test it on a small area of the skin when using it for the first time, before applying it to larger regions.
  • Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly after handling capsaicin cream to keep it from accidentally spreading to sensitive mucus membranes.
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