This post is the final of the 4-part series on the dietary management of osteoarthritis. Please refer to our blog for previous postings.
4. EFFECTIVE SUPPLEMENT USE
Currently, there are many supplements and nutraceuticals (fortified foods that may provide medicinal or health effects) targeted at people suffering from osteoarthritis (OA). Although more evidence is needed, some of these products, when combined with a healthy, balanced diet and appropriate exercise, may provide some pain relief and improvement in stiffness.
- Glucosamine: It is commonly prescribed with chondroitin and has been found to improve the stiffness of osteoarthritis in some persons, but results are mixed about pain reduction. There are little-known side effects with the use of glucosamine, but it should be avoided if you have a shellfish allergy or taking wafarin.
- Omega 3 fatty acid (fish oil): Fish oil supplements rich in omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties and have shown to be of benefit in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis decreasing cartilage degradation, inflammation markers, and morning stiffness. However, further trials are needed to investigate the use of these supplements in osteoarthritis.
- Collagen peptide: Collagen peptide is involved in collagen synthesis and the formation of cartilage and other tissues. Some studies have shown that collagen supplementation may promote bone conservation, composition, and strength. However, the research is limited and mainly done in rats. Therefore, studies on larger human population groups are needed. Furthermore, there is currently no consensus on the dosage of collagen hydrolysate to be prescribed.
- Rosehip powder: Results from two double-blind, randomized studies found that in some persons, rosehip powder used for three months had a moderate effect on pain reduction. However, population size in studies was small and larger randomized controlled trials are needed to determine its effectiveness in OA.
- Avocado-soybean: Avocado–soybean unsaponifiables has been researched in the treatment of knee and hip osteoarthritis. There is moderate-quality evidence that it probably improved pain and function in small amounts but may not preserve joint space. More research may change the estimates.
- Ginger extract: Of the three randomized controlled studies, only one study found ginger extract improved pain in arthritis of the knee. However, it was less effective than ibuprofen. One study found adverse effects such as nausea and indigestion have been reported.
- Turmeric: Turmeric has been used for various medical conditions, but it’s key ingredient curcumin, has anti-inflammatory properties and therefore has been proposed for use in OA. One study showed a small positive result in pain management and mobility. However, other studies demonstrated no effect, and toxic effects have been reported at high doses.
Nutraceuticals and supplements may potentially offer new avenues for the treatment of osteoarthritis, but better controlled clinical trials are needed to address the safety and efficacy of routine use, define effective dosages and identify who will benefit most. So watch this space! Currently, it is best to consult with a registered dietitian or your physician before taking supplements.