9 Effective Supplements for Arthritis That Actually Works

Updated on February 20th, 2020
supplements for rheumatoid arthritis

Arthritis is the inflammation caused in joints and is a rheumatic condition. The state is more common among people of older age groups and females. There are various symptoms of arthritis, including pain, swelling, stiffness, and the inability to perform everyday tasks.

Patients adopt many treatments and medications to get relief from arthritis pain, but many home remedies and natural supplements also help treat this condition. There are many supplements for arthritis that prove to be helpful with the pain and inflammation. Research shows that some of these supplements are very effective and help lower the doses of prescribed medicines.

Did You Know!

  • According to an estimate(1), 78 million people are expected to have doctor-diagnosed arthritis by 2040.
  • 54.4 million Americans are diagnosed with some form of arthritis, according to research.

Supplements for Arthritis

1. SAM-e

supplements for arthritis

Why to Take?

SAM-e helps relieve pain and inflammation caused due to arthritis and treats the stiffness and swelling in the joints. It stimulates the growth of cartilage and reduces pain by affecting serotonin. It is best suitable for patients of osteoarthritis (OA). Also make sure to take B-Vitamins along with this supplement as it works best with vitamins B-12, B-6, and folate.

How to Take?

  • SAM-e is one of the best supplements for arthritis as it works as effectively as prescription drugs with fewer side effects.
  • SAM-e can be taken in the form of capsules that are available in a blister pack.

How Much to Take?

  • It can be taken three times a day.
  • 600-1200 mg of SAM-e should be taken daily into three doses for osteoarthritis. Take advice from a health care expert as the dosage could vary.
  • SAM-e is not recommended for children and lactating women.
  • Also, there are no food items that contain SAM-e.

[Also Read: Natural Treatment for Arthritis]

2. Boswellia Serrate

Boswellia Serrate

Boswellia Serrate, also known as Indian frankincense, is originated from the bark of Boswellia tree and is also one of the natural supplements.

Why to Take?

Boswellic acid is the active component in it which has strong anti-inflammatory properties. It helps reduce inflammation caused in rheumatoid arthritis(2) (RA) and osteoarthritis (OA). The supplement is also helpful in preventing cartilage loss and inhibiting the anti-immune process. These properties make it an effective therapy for RA and OA.

According to an Indian study, only after three months of use, the damage to cartilage slowed down.

How to Take?

Boswellia Serrate can be used in the form of a capsule or a tablet.

How Much to Take?

  • The dosage should range from 300 to 400 mg, which should be taken in three doses per day.
  • Take three times a day for effective results.
  • It is recommended to use Boswellia Serrate with 60 percent boswellic acids, which is the active ingredient.

3. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Why to Take?

The two types of omega-3 fatty acids, eicoapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), help reduce inflammation caused by swelling and pain.

Research shows that both acids are effective in enhancing the immune system, especially DHA. Omega-3 fatty acids also help in the reduction of morning stiffness and swelling in the joints.

By using omega-3 fatty acids, the body generates certain chemicals that help control inflammation. Omega-3 fatty acids also influence the immune system and help in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). In RA, the immune system starts attacking synovium by mistake. It’s is believed that Omega-3 fatty acids help in regulating the response of the immune system.

How to Take?

  • Omega-3 capsules for arthritis can also be used in the form of dietary supplements.
  • Flaxseed is also considered one of the sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Fish oil is the main source of fatty acids. Fish oil is extracted from oily fishes like salmon and sardines. It is rich in docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).

How Much to Take?

Capsules with at least 30 percent EPA/DHA are recommended for the treatment of arthritis. Along with omega-3 fatty acids, some vitamins for rheumatoid arthritis are also used.

4. Capsaicin

Capsaicin is a heat producing component present in chili pepper and is highly purified.

Why to Use?

Capsaicin is proved to activate nerve receptors which are responsible for causing heat, itching, and stinging sensations. Activation of these receptors for prolonged times results in their inability to function correctly. Due to this, they are unable to process the pain signals sent by the brain. Capsaicin is advised to be used daily, so that nerve does not trigger pain.

Many studies prove capsaicin effective in cases of osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). A study published in Phytotherapy Research revealed that joint pain was relieved by 50 percent after three weeks of using capsaicin.

How to Take?

It can be used as a gel, topical cream, or a patch.

How Much to Take?

Most products of capsaicin contain concentrations between 0.025 to 0.075 percent. It should be applied regularly three times a day.

5. Turmeric

Turmeric also called Curcuma Longa has known for its medicinal properties since ancient times. It aids in curing a plethora of ailments.

Why to Take?

A chemical in turmeric called curcumin is effective in reducing joint pain and swelling. It blocks the inflammatory cytokines and enzymes. Traditionally, turmeric has been used for ages to treat arthritis in countries like India and China.

Several studies suggest that there are anti-inflammatory properties and help modify the immune system. Long term improvement in pain and function was shown in patients with knee OA in a 2010 clinical trial using turmeric. It is also proved to be more effective in reducing pain and swelling as compared to diclofenac sodium.

How to Take?

It is generally used in the form of capsules as they are free of contaminants.

How Much to Take?

  • For OA, take 400 mg to 600 mg in the form of three doses a day. You can also take 0.5 g to 1 g powdered root per day.
  • For RA, take 500 mg, two doses daily.
  • You can also add turmeric in your diet by adding it in milk or curries.

[Also Read: Turmeric for Arthritis Pain]

6. Avocado-Soybean Unsaponifiables

Avocado-soybean Unsaponifiables (ASU) is a natural extract made by using two-thirds of soybean oil and one-third of avocado oil. ASU is a mixture of various compounds including vitamins, sterols, and fatty acids.

Why to Use?

ASU helps block pro-inflammatory chemicals and helps in preventing synovial cells from deterioration. It also helps in generating healthy connective tissues.

A study in 2003 also reported the inhibition of cartilage breakdown and promotion in repair by the usage of ASU. Another 2008 meta-analysis proved ASU help treat the symptoms of RA and OA.

It is also shown to eliminate the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Also, ASU not just addresses the pain but also helps prevent the progression of symptoms of OA.

How to Take?

  • Avocado-soybean unsaponifiables are generally available as soft gels which help treat OA.

How much to use?

Use a 300 mg gel daily.

7. Cat’s Claw

Cat’s Claw

Cat’s claw is grown in the parts of South and Central America and is extracted from the bark and root of the tropical vine

Why to Use?

In a study where 45 people suffering from OA took 100 mg of cat’s claw extract for four weeks, the results showed reduced pain during physical activities.

Also, no side effects were reported for the same. Cat’s claw has anti-inflammatory properties and is useful in inhibiting tumor necrosis factor (TNF), which is a target of various powerful drugs taken for RA.

Some components in cat’s claw also benefit the immune system. Furthermore, researchers in 40 people found a reduction in joint swelling and pain by 50 percent more than placebo.

How to Use?

Cat’s claw is available in capsules, liquid, tablets, and tea bags.

How much to use?

  • You can take 250 mg to 350 mg capsule every day for the immune system.
  • Only buy products containing uncaria tomentosa as many other plants are also called cat’s claw. Also, look from brands that do not contain tetracyclic oxindole alkaloids (TOAs).

8. Fish Oil Supplements/Capsules

Fish oil is extracted from cold water fish, including salmon, tuna, cod, and herring. DHA and EPA are omega-3 fatty acids present in fish oil.

Why to Use?

Fish oil for arthritis is useful in reducing pain and inflammation. According to researchers, DHA and EPA reduce inflammation in joints.

A meta-analysis in 2010 proved that fish oil helps decrease tenderness in bones and joints in RA patients. It was also effective in eliminating the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

Fish oil also helps in blocking inflammatory cytokines and prostaglandins and converts them into anti-inflammatory chemicals.

How to Take?

Patients need to take large amounts of fish oil to get enough omega-3 fatty acids for the treatment of arthritis. Fish oil can be taken in the form of pastilles, capsules, soft gels, liquid, or tablets.

How Much to Take?

  • For the treatment of arthritis, use 2.6 g of 30 percent EPA/DHA capsules in two doses daily.

9. Ginger

Ginger, as a root, is being used for cooking, and also for its medicinal properties for centuries.

Why to Use?

It has various properties, including anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties, which prove to be a beneficial natural supplement for arthritis.

The anti-inflammatory compounds present in ginger work in the same way as COX-2 inhibitors (a drug used to reduce pain and inflammation). Ginger is also effective when applied topically on the affected area.

According to a study in 2015, study results showed that ginger extract, if applied topically, improves the condition of OA in the knee. The participants of this study used ginger extract three times a day for three weeks.

Pain and other symptoms during this period were reduced in the patients.

How to Use?

Ginger can be used in the form of capsules, tea, tincture, powder, and also topical creams, gels, and oils.

For arthritis, concentrated forms of ginger are more beneficial. Make sure to use a ginger supplement, which is of high quality and is organic. Also, avoid products containing additives.

How Much to Use?

  • Take 2g ginger in any form daily, in three doses.

Arthritis is a general condition and is most common among females and older people. Healthcare experts prescribe various medications and treatments, but these drugs might have side effects. Many home remedies and herbs are taken to cure arthritis, but they are slower than medications and in some cases, not effective. Taking natural supplements is the best way to treat arthritis as they do not have side effects, and some of them prove to be as effective as prescribed drugs.

Magnesium for arthritis is also helpful in maintaining joint cartilage and strengthening bones. Supplements like avocado-soybean unsaponifiable and fish oil can even eliminate the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). However, talk to a healthcare expert about the amount and type of supplements to include in your diet.


1. Which Supplements Should Be Avoided?

Supplements are useful in reducing pain and inflammation in arthritis patients, but not all supplements are beneficial. Some supplements have many side effects. Some of the supplements to be avoided are arnica, aconite, autumn crocus, 5-HTP, GBL, and Kombucha tea.

2. Is Fish Oil Good for Arthritis?

Fish oil contains two omega-3 fatty acids: DHA and EPA, which help reduce inflammation and pain. Fish oil blocks inflammatory cytokines and prostaglandins and converts them into anti-inflammatory chemicals. Fish oil also helps eliminate the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). As it is a natural supplement, there are no side effects associated with it.

3. What Vitamins Are Good for Arthritis?

Some vitamins, including vitamin C, D, and E, are proven to be effective in treating the condition of arthritis. Studies show that the right amount of vitamin C helps reduce inflammation and also prevents joint damage caused by arthritis. Studies also show that women with sufficient levels of vitamin D are less likely to suffer from RA compared to those with fewer amounts.

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