Best for Osteoarthritis
What it is: The synthetic form of a chemical found in all human cells.
How it works: SAM-e is a natural analgesic and anti-inflammatory and may stimulate cartilage growth by signaling production of cartilage proteins. It also affects neurotransmitters such as serotonin.
Studies: Equivalency trials have shown that SAM-e relieves OA symptoms as effectively as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAIDs), with fewer side effects and more prolonged benefit. A 2004 University of California, Irving study found SAM-e equal to the prescription drug celecoxib (Celebrex) and a 2009 study found it comparable to the NSAID nabumetone.
How much: Capsules: 600 to 1,200 milligrams (mg) daily in three doses for OA; 200 to 800 mg twice daily for fibromyalgia; 800 to 1,600 mg twice daily for depression (but talk to your doctor if you have bipolar disorder). Taking with vitamin B12, B6 and folate improves absorption.
What it is: Gum resin of the boswellia tree.
How it works: Boswellic acids – the active components – have strong anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. They also may help prevent cartilage loss and inhibit the autoimmune process, making boswellia a potential therapy for RA, too.
Studies: A 2008 study in India, where boswellia is a traditional remedy, found that a supplement called 5-Loxin significantly improved OA pain and function within seven days and slowed cartilage damage after three months.
How much: Capsule or tablet: 300 to 400 mg three times daily. Look for 60 percent boswellic acids.
What it is: The active, heat-producing component in chili peppers.
How it works: Applied as a tropical cream, gel or patch, capsaicin temporarily reduces substance P, a pain transmitter.
Studies: Many studies have shown that capsaicin effectively reduces pain from OA. In a 2010 study published in Phyto-therapy Research, joint pain decreased nearly 50 percent after three weeks’ use of 0.05 percent capsaicin cream.
How much: Most capsaicin products contain between 0.025 and 0.075 percent concentrations. Apply regularly three times a day.
NOTE: Studies show capsaicin may help reduce pain in RA and improve grip strength in fibromyalgia.
What it is: An ingredient in may curries and often used in Ayurvedic medicine, turmeric is the root of a plant in the ginger family. Curcumin is a key chemical in turmeric.
How it works: Curcumin blocks inflammatory cytokines and enzymes, including cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), the target of celecoxib.
Studies: a 2010 clinical trial found that a turmeric supplement called Meriva (standardized to 75 percent curcumin combined with phosphatidylcholine) provided long-term improvement in pain and function in 100 patients with knee OA. In a small 2012 pilot study, a curcumin product called BCM-95 reduced joint pain and swelling in patients with active RA better than diclofenac sodium did.
How much: Extract, which is more likely to be free of contaminants, or capsule: 500 mg two to four times daily for OA; 500mg twice daily for RA.
What it is: A supplement composed of one-third avocado oil and two-thirds soybean oil.
How it works: ASU blocks pro-inflammatory chemicals, prevents deterioration of synovial cells, which line joints, and may help regenerate normal connective tissue.
Studies: It has been studied extensively in Europe, where it is routinely used to treat OA. A 2008 meta-analysis found that ASU improved symptoms of hip and knee OA and reduced or eliminated NSADI use. Especially notable: A large, three-year study published in 2013 in the BMJ showed that ASU significantly reduced progression of hip OA compared with placebo
Innovative Vitality offers: COX Free, Inflamma Shield, Pro DHA, and Vasculo Calm.