By Amee LaTour
Inflammation is part of the body’s natural healing process. When an injury or threat such as an infection is perceived by the body, it sends a rush of fluids to the area to isolate it and facilitate healing.
So, while it’s painful, inflammation has its purposes. However, the body often overreacts, sending too much inflammation for too long. This is why we often take an over-the-counter NSAID when we get an injury and put ice on it in order to limit inflammation.
In some cases, inflammation becomes chronic. This is the case for people with conditions like arthritis. People with osteoarthritis have pain and inflammation caused by the wearing down of joint cartilage. While the purpose of inflammation is to help tissues heal, in the case of chronic inflammation, it can actually cause tissue damage.
People with osteoarthritis need to manage inflammation to prevent further joint degeneration as well as manage chronic pain. Prolonged use of NSAIDs, whether over-the-counter or prescription, comes with risks to the liver, kidneys and stomach. Natural anti-inflammatories are always being sought out by patients and researchers that deliver effective inflammation relief without harmful side effects and risks.
Devil’s Claw, Turmeric and Bromelain
These three herbal ingredients all contain anti-inflammatory properties along with other beneficial qualities. Studies into devil’s claw have supported its analgesic effects. Turmeric may help relieve ulcerative colitis and indigestion. Bromelain may help reduce symptoms of sinusitis and quicken healing time after surgical procedures.
A small study recently sought to test the effectiveness of a combination of these three herbal supplements in reducing pain for people with either acute or chronic osteoarthritis pain. Forty-two patients were given the supplement either two or three times a day, depending on whether their pain was chronic or acute.
At baseline, the group with chronic pain had an average pain score of 68 on a 100-point scale. After 60 days of supplementation, this average score dropped to 37.8. Those with acute pain started out with an average score of 69.1, which dropped to 42.1 after 15 days of supplementation.
See more on this study at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24473984.
Though these herbal supplements are not completely without documented side effects and unknown risks, history and the available research suggest that, for most people, they are likely a much safer alternative to NSAIDs. This is excellent news for those looking for natural anti-inflammatory options.
However, the above study has some notable limitations. Aside from a very small sample size, there was no blinded placebo measure or control group of any kind to test the supplement’s effectiveness against.
Still, the affordability and relative safety of herbal supplements is enough to make them worth a try for many people with chronic pain. To learn about potential side effects and drug interactions associated with these and other herbs, visit http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/.
Safe choices for pain management solutions exist. Educate yourself in alternative solutions for back pain management. Please ask questions, give comments or stories related to this article submission regarding back pain management.