Nutrition, supplements, alternative medicine& Arthritis

It’s one of the first questions someone with arthritis asks: “What dietary changes should I make to cure this disease?” Not only are people, who ask the question looking for a quick fix, they want a fix that will keep their arthritis symptoms in some form of remission.

Until we have access to more conclusive data regarding the benefits of dietary changes and arthritis, patients are encouraged to follow a healthy, balanced diet that promote a healthy weight.  The fourth edition of Nutrition and Your Health: Dietary Guidelines for Americans(1) outlines some basic dietary advice for all healthy people ages 2 years and above about making food choices that promote health and prevent disease. The main messages are as follows:

  • Eat a variety of foods while monitoring your serving size
  • Balance the food you eat with physical activity, maintain or improve your weight
  • Choose a diet rich in whole grain products, vegetables, and fruits
  • Choose a diet moderately low in fat; and low saturated fat and cholesterol
  • Reduce your sugar and salt intake


Are There Benefits of supplements such as Fish Oils and ointments on relieving Arthritic Pain?

There have been a few experiments examining fish oils benefits on patients with rheumatoid arthritis that have shown favorable results, however, practical and safe doses are still unknown for this dietary supplement (2). In most of the studies using fish oils, benefits are not usually observed until at least twelve weeks of continuous use and appear to increase with extended treatment exposure. Researches have found that fatty oils facilitate reducing inflammation, pain and redness in many forms of arthritis. Omega-3 are the main oils;some sources include salmon, sardines, halibut and other cold-water fish. Current recommendations suggest eating these fish at least two to three servings per week. There are fish oil supplements available in tablet form, but they may not be as good as eating the fish itself.

Other available option comes in the form of creamsto rub on swollen joints, Capsaicin, which contains oil found in red peppers. Capsaicin is absorbed through the skin and appears to reduce inflammation. It is important to note that fish oil supplements may interfere with blood clotting and increase the risk for stroke especially when consumed in conjunction with aspirin or other no steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.


What is the benefit of taken vitamin D?

Vitamin D deficiency is very common problem in many parts of the world, including the gulf area. Major signs of vitamin D deficiency are muscle pain, bone pain, stiffness, and difficulty in climbing stairs; reduce grip strength, and unsteady gait. Moreover, women who lack vitamin D in their system are at risk to developed osteoporosis.

Patient who are diagnose with vitamin D deficiency should consult with the treating physician about the optimal dose of taken such vitamin. In general, adult patient should take at least 2000 IU of vitamin D per day. This could in tablet form or contained on the patient daily foods.


What is the benefit of taken magnesium?

Magnesium is required for many reactions that involved in generating energy for our body to function. It play key part in muscle relaxation following contraction. The following foods are rich in magnesium: nuts, legumes, green vegetables, whole grain, seafood, meat, and chocolate. Signs of magnesium deficiency are shortness of breath, headache, wheezing, leg cramps, muscle tension, myalgia, restless legs syndrome, chronic constipation and high blood pressure. Patient have these symptoms should consult with their doctors to advice about the optimal dose of magnesium. In general doses between 200-400 mg per day has been shown to be effective.


What is Chondroitin Sulfate?

Chondroitin sulfate is a naturally occurring substance found in cartilage — a type of connective tissue at the end of the bone that acts as a cushion between joints. Chondroitin helps cartilage retain fluid, prevent breakdown by enzymes and plays a role in producing new cartilage for the body. Chondroitin sulfate is only available as a dietary supplement in tablet, or capsule form and is often indicated for the treatment of osteoarthritis; the most common form of arthritis. It may help reduce pain, inflammation and swelling as well as improve joint movement. However, debates and conflicting studies continue into the effectiveness of chondroitin sulfate as treatment of arthritis.

A large study done in United States of Glucosamine and chondroitin showed that the supplements are more effective for decreasing pain when combined than alone. A study of 300 people with knee osteoarthritis who received either chondroitin alone or placebo showed that chondroitin might slow progression of knee OA. A review of more than a dozen studies showed significant improvement in pain and inflammation and improved joint function. Some taking it are able to decrease NSAID dosage.


What is Glucosamine Sulfate?

Glucosamine is another naturally occurring molecule found in cartilage. It plays a major role in the building of new cartilage as well as repair and maintenance. It also helps keep the joints lubricated and is often combined with chondroitin sulfate in supplement form. Derived from the shells of shellfish, Glucosamine supplements may help reduce the pain and inflammation of arthritis as well as slow the deterioration of cartilage. Glucosamine may take up to four months to be effective and like chondroitin sulfate supplements, studies looking at the effectiveness of Glucosamine have shown mixed results.


What is MSM?

MSM stand for Methylsulfonylmethane. It is an organic sulfur compound found naturally in fruits, vegetables, grains, animals and humans.It is available in tablets, liquid, capsule or powder, topical and oral. Typically it’s taken in 1,000 mg to 3,000 mg daily with meals. A 2006 pilot study of 50 men and women with knee osteoarthritis showed that 6,000 mg of MSM improved symptoms of pain and physical function without major side effects. No large, well-controlled hum­an studies have been performed. MSM may cause stomach upset or diarrhea. Don’t use MSM if you are taking blood thinners. There is no evidence that MSM alter the course of arthritis.


Does Green tea help patient with arthritis?

Drinking three to four cups of green tea a day could help people with rheumatoid arthritis. Studies funded by the Arthritis Foundation showed that giving the polyphenolic compounds in green tea to mice significantly decreased the incidence and severity of RA. Human studies have not yet confirmed the results.


Does Herbs help to cure my arthritis?

Combinations of herbs are often promoted as treatments for arthritis. Herbal medicines may come in the form of a powder, liquid, or pill. There is no evidence in support of such claims, standardized preparations are not available, and some of these herbs can cause dangerous side effects. In addition, some herbal products can interact with conventional treatments, making them less effective.

Does St. John’s Wort help patient with arthritis?

St. John’s Wort (Hypericumperforatum) is taken from yellow flower, leaves and stem of the St. John’s wort plant, is native to Europe and grows wild in the U.S.A. Its believed that St. John’s wort’s can have mood-elevating properties as result from active ingredients hypericin and hyperforin, chemicals that raise levels of serotonin, a chemical found in the brain. Serotonin levels may be low in people who are depressed and possibly in those who have fibromyalgia. No scientific evidence shows that St. John’s wort is effective for reducing inflammation. A Cochrane Review of studies on St. John’s wort for depression showed that current evidence is inconsistent.

Does homeopathy treatment help patient with rheumatoid arthritis?

Homeopathy is a complementary therapy that uses small quantities of highly diluted substances to relieve symptoms of arthritis. A few studies have evaluated the benefit of homeopathy in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. One well designed study(3) failed to show a clear benefit of homeopathy, compared to placebo, in reducing the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.


  1. Nutrition and Your Health: Dietary Guidelines for Americans. U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 4th edition, 1995.
  2. Hudnall M. Illness and Disease Vitamins, Minerals and Dietary Supplements 1999 Minneapolis, MN: Chronimed, 42-44.
  3. Fisher, P, Scott, DL. A randomized controlled trial of homeopathy in rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatology 2001; 40:1052.