Joint stiffness is a common problem faced by people nowadays. It is often caused by the lack of regular physical activity or by a strenuous workout regime. The stiffness can be reduced by focusing on a balanced diet, hydration, and exercise. However, there are times when you might need additional support. This is where joint flexibility supplements come into the picture.
A joint flexibility supplement is a type of dietary supplement that is designed to enhance joint mobility, flexibility, and reduction of pain and inflammation. These supplements usually contain specific ingredients that are known to improve joint health and support the body’s natural healing process.
Types of Joint Flexibility Supplements
There are different types of joint flexibility supplements available in the market. Here are some of the most commonly used supplements:
Glucosamine is one of the most popular joint flexibility supplements. It is a natural compound that is found in the body, especially around joints. Glucosamine supplements are usually made from the shells of shellfish. Some research suggests that glucosamine may support joint health by reducing inflammation, improving mobility, and reducing pain.
Chondroitin is another popular joint flexibility supplement. It is a type of carbohydrate that is found in the cartilage around joints. Chondroitin supplements are often taken together with glucosamine. Research suggests that chondroitin may help reduce inflammation and improve joint health.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish oil and other foods, encourage the body to produce chemicals that help control inflammation. This supplement may help ease stiffness caused by inflammation in people with rheumatoid arthritis, but more research is needed.
Curcumin and Boswellia serrata
Curcumin (the active ingredient of turmeric) provides relief for people with osteoarthritis of the knee. They have anti-inflammatory properties.
Meanwhile, Boswellia, also known as Indian frankincense, is commonly used for pain caused by arthritis. Chemicals in this extract, called Boswellia acids, have anti-inflammatory effects.
Clinical studies have shown that boswellia extracts improve pain symptoms more than a placebo in people with osteoarthritis.
Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) is a compound found in some plants, animals, and humans. MSM supplements are often used to reduce inflammation, relieve pain, and support joint health. Some research suggests that MSM may help improve joint flexibility and mobility.
Green tea contains compounds that have powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that may be helpful in combating joint pain.
Vitamin D is important for keeping bones strong and preventing injuries from falls. Research shows that people with low levels of vitamin D may have more joint pain.
Magnesium is responsible for over 300 chemical reactions in the body every day, and it has been proven that it is vital for joint health. It is one of nature’s finest relaxants, it helps relieve muscle tension, stiffness, and cramping, which assists in reducing unnecessary stress on joints.
Encouraging the body to absorb calcium prevents calcification in muscles and soft tissue, helping the body maintain flexibility and movement.
Turmeric is a spice that is commonly used in Indian cuisine. It contains a compound called curcumin, which has anti-inflammatory properties. Turmeric supplements are often used to reduce inflammation and relieve pain. Some research also suggests that turmeric may help improve joint health.
This spicy root contains the anti-inflammatory compound gingerol, which has pain-relieving properties that could be as strong as those of OTC meds like ibuprofen.
An important caveat: Studies looking at ginger’s ability to ease joint pain have relied on high doses of specialized ginger extracts. So you might not get the same benefits by, say, adding a knob of ginger to your cooking.
Capsaicin — the compound that gives spicy peppers their heat — reduces the release of signals that transmit pain, which has been shown in some studies to temporarily ease chronic pain.
Capsaicin is available in creams, patches, and gels that you can apply directly to your skin. Its effects last only a couple of hours, so to reap the biggest benefits, you’ll want to apply it three or four times a day.
Fish oil contains the omega-3 fatty acids docosahexaenoic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid, which have anti-inflammatory effects.
An analysis of clinical research shows that taking fish oil supplements reduces symptoms such as joint pain in those with rheumatoid arthritis. But it doesn’t seem to reduce osteoarthritis symptoms.
S-adenosyl-L-methionine (SAMe) is a supplement commonly used to help with symptoms of depression and osteoarthritis. Your liver naturally produces SAMe from an amino acid called methionine. It has several functions, including helping the production and repair of cartilage.
When taken as a supplement, SAMe can help with symptoms of joint pain caused by osteoarthritis. It may be as effective as the anti-inflammatory drug celecoxib (Celebrex). In one study from 2004, celecoxib improved symptoms more than SAMe after a month of treatment. But by the second month, the treatments were comparable.
The skin elasticity benefits of collagen, a protein made up of amino acids, have long been touted. Less research exists for its anti-inflammatory benefits: Some studies suggest it can improve joint pain, while others suggest it can decrease muscle soreness but not inflammation.
Collagen is widely available as a capsule as well as a powder or liquid you can mix into food or drinks. Or you can increase your body’s natural collagen level by eating more foods containing protein and vitamin C, such as chicken, fish, eggs, and citrus fruits.
Avocado-soybean unsaponifiables (ASUs) refer to a type of extract from avocado and soybean oils that might help prevent the breakdown of cartilage. It may also help to repair cartilage.
Clinical studies show that ASUs improve pain symptoms more than placebo in people with osteoarthritis.
Devil’s claw, also called harpagophytum, contains a chemical called harpogoside that has anti-inflammatory effects.
Taking devil’s claw may help with joint pain from osteoarthritis. In one study, devil’s claw worked about as well as an anti-inflammatory drug called diacerein. However, since there isn’t much research on this supplement for osteoarthritis, more high-quality studies are necessary.
Gamma linolenic acid (GLA)
GLA contains omega-6 fatty acids, which can also help fight the inflammation that causes joint discomfort. How effective is it for easing soreness and stiffness? According to a 2017 review, people with rheumatoid arthritis who consumed GLA daily for 6 months reported a significant decrease in joint pain and swelling. And a 2014 study found that a combination of GLA and fish oil went a long way toward helping people take fewer pain meds.
Cherry juice extract
Anthocyanin supplies both the red coloring and anti-inflammatory benefits in cherries and other red fruits and vegetables. Most of my patients who say cherry juice helps relieve their pain drink about one glass a day, but you can eat a handful of cherries daily or take supplements that contain the pure juice extract – cherries are high in anthocyanin.
Cannabidiol (CBD) oil
More patients are asking about the benefits of CBD oil, and the research is just beginning. Studies show that CBD can help activate the endocannabinoid system within your central nervous system, which helps your body regulate critical functions such as pain, mood, temperature, memory, and appetite.
However, the FDA has not approved any over-the-counter CBD products for pain, though some have been marketed as such. I strongly recommend paying close attention to ongoing research and safety reports.
Tamarind seed extract
Research suggests regular tamarind seed extract supplementation might help ease joint pain, thanks to the extract’s anti-inflammatory and anti-stress properties.
The results are even more promising if you combine it with curcumin. In people without arthritis, the combo has been found to deliver substantial relief from knee pain after exercise.
Working as both an antioxidant and an anti-inflammatory, vitamin E could fight joint pain caused by osteoarthritis and may slow the disease’s progress.
People with knee osteoarthritis have reaped benefits from taking vitamin E supplements, but talk with your doctor before trying it and resist the urge to take mega doses. Vitamin E can affect certain health conditions, and high doses can cause side effects like nausea, diarrhea, weakness, headaches, and blurry vision.
It’s a potent source of polyphenols like EGCG, which are known for their anti-inflammatory properties. While there hasn’t been much research on green tea specifically as a treatment for arthritis pain, some studies suggest the grassy sipper could be helpful in treating joint issues.
Benefits of Joint Flexibility Supplements
Joint flexibility supplements have several benefits, including:
- Reduce joint pain and stiffness
- Improve joint mobility and flexibility
- Support the body’s natural healing process
- Reduce inflammation around joints
- Enhance cartilage and bone health
Dosage and Side Effects
The dosage of joint flexibility supplements may vary depending on the specific supplement and individual needs. It is important to follow the recommended dosage on the supplement label or as advised by a healthcare provider.
Most joint flexibility supplements are safe when taken as directed. However, some may cause mild side effects such as upset stomach, diarrhea, and headache. It is always important to speak with a healthcare provider before taking any new supplement, especially if you are pregnant or have a medical condition.
Tips for choosing a supplement
Choosing a supplement for joint pain can be overwhelming with the number of products available. Many of these products contain multiple ingredients. Keep in mind that a long ingredient list doesn’t always make for a better product. Also, these products are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, so read labels carefully.
In some cases, added ingredients don’t have any proven benefits for joint health. Others might contain multiple beneficial ingredients, like glucosamine and chondroitin. But there’s not much proof that taking supplements containing multiple ingredients is more effective than taking a single ingredient. Plus, some of these products have too little of one or more ingredients for them to be beneficial.
Before choosing a supplement, talk with your doctor or pharmacist about other medications you’re taking so they can check for potential interactions. Some joint health supplements can interact with certain medications, such as blood thinners.
Joint flexibility supplements can provide additional support in improving joint health. They may help alleviate pain, reduce inflammation, and improve mobility and flexibility. However, it is important to remember that supplements should be used in conjunction with healthy lifestyle habits like exercise and a balanced diet. Speak with a healthcare provider to determine which supplement may be right for you.