Do supplements and herbs advertised as helping prevent and treat arthritis symptoms really work?

To Supplement or Not to Supplement: That is the Question

With so many over-the-counter remedies for treating or helping with the prevention of osteoarthritis on the market, where does a consumer begin? And not only that, are those miracle remedies really effective?

The most popular supplements advertised for prevention and relief of arthritis and its associated symptoms contain a combination of glucosamine and chondroitin. These supplements are believed to maintain existing cartilage within a joint and stimulate cartilage growth, the goal being to ease arthritis pain and essentially slow the progression of degeneration. Glucosamine is the substance that gives cartilage its strength and rigidity; in theory, ingesting it will toughen yours up. Chondroitin sulfate is also an important structural component of cartilage, giving it the properties that resist compression. The two combined can benefit joint health, but its anyone's guess which exact combination is the best. It's wise to consult your physician before beginning this non-traditional course of treatment.

Other self-help arthritis pain treatment and prevention approaches involve supplementing with flax seed, which is loaded with omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids have long been praised for their positive affect on symptoms of inflammation. Another alternative treatment approach is acupuncture, a practice involving the insertion of thin, filament-like needles at specific locations in the body. Acupuncture is aimed at restoring balance and bringing healing properties to the targeted area. Dietary changes aimed at keeping body weight at a manageable level and minimizing fluid retention (low sodium and high fruit and vegetable content, for example), can be beneficial in the effort to reduce arthritis pain as well.

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