Joint support supplements are most commonly used to promote healthy joint function and to prevent discomfort.
Common joint supplement ingredients
There's no one joint supplement ingredient that will reduce pain, prevent disease, or symptoms of aging. Rather, a slew of different herbs or proteins can be taken individually or combined to keep your joints (or return them to) working order.
Joint supplement ingredients all work in different ways and provide their own unique benefits. There is no "miracle" ingredient that will cover every aspect of joint health. Rather, a slew of different herbs and proteins can be taken individually or combined to return your joints to working order.
Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), is a key component in joint health. It helps form connective tissues, like cartilage, tendons, and ligaments. MSM has anti-inflammatory properties and has been proven useful in treating osteoarthritis.[27,28,29,30,31]
We recommend only OptiMSM based MSM supplements, since it is one of the few raw material ingredients manufactured exclusively in the US and there have been a great deal of studies conducted using it, so you know exactly what you're getting.
You can read far more details on our blog post about MSM Supplements.
Also known asIndian frankincense, boswellia serrata is an ayurvedic herb that is traditionally used to treat arthritis, coughs, ulcerative colitis, sores, snakebites, and asthma. The major active component in this plant is boswellic acid, which has anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic properties. Furthermore, a number of studies suggest boswellia serrata is beneficial to joint health.[2,3,4,5]
Chondroitin occurs naturally in the body as a major component of cartilage — the connective tissue that cushions the body's joints. Chondroitin provides the building blocks for the body to produce new cartilage and also helps cartilege absorb water. Other evidence indicates that it may block certain enzymes that have negative effects on cartilage.
For commercial purposes, herbal chondroitin can either be derived from natural sources, such as shark cartilage, or synthetically produced. However, studies are conflicting when it comes to chondroitin's benefits.[6,7,8,9]
Cissus quadrangularis is a medicinal herb that grows throughout Asia and Africa. It is used in multiple indigenous systems of medicine, including Ayurveda. The active compounds present in this plant provide powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. During a pilot study, cissus was proven effective at reducing joint pain in a group of otherwise healthy athletes.
Collagen is the main protein found in bone, skin, ligaments, and tendons. A number of studies have concluded that collagen supplementation may be beneficial in relieving symptoms of arthritic conditions.[14,15] A 24-week study conducted at Penn State's Department of Nutrition and Sports Nutrition for Athletics, found that collagen was effective in improving joint pain in athletes.
Glucosamine is produced naturally in the body and plays an important role in building cartilage. Much like chondroitin, glucosamine has gotten conflicting feedback from a number of different studies that have attempted to prove its efficacy. However, there are a handful of studies that have concluded glucosamine to be effective at reducing pain associated with osteoarthritis, improving joint function, and perhaps even slowing the progression of the disease.[18,19,20] Some studies have even compared the effectiveness of glucosamine to ibuprofen.[19,21]
It should be noted that many glucosime studies are flawed in their methodology or are not conducted by unbiased researchers. So before treating a serious or painful joint problem with a glucosamine supplement, talk to your doctor.
While the exact mechanism of action is unclear, hyaluronic acid has been proven effective as a treatment for osteoarthritis. It's important to note that the evidence supporting these treatments is based on studies that used injections rather than oral supplementation.[22,23,24,25]
Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are considered essential fatty acids (EFAs). They play a critical role in human health, but the body cannot produce them on its own, you have to get them through food or supplementation. Because of their powerful anti-inflammatory properties, EFAs have been studied and proven effective as a treatment for particular arthritic conditions.[35,36,37,38]
Rosa canina, commonly known as rose hips, is a plant with medicinal qualities that has traditionally been used in folk medicine. Rose hips have gained popularity because of its reported anti-inflammatory benefits, which may be strong enough to render it useful against inflammation-based diseases.[39,40,41,42]
S-Adenosylmethionine (SAMe) is a natural compound that can be found in nearly every fluid and tissue in the body. It is integral to a number of important processes within the body, such as immune system function, cell membrane maintenance, and the production and degradation of brain chemicals. Studies have demonstrated SAMe to be an effective way to treat some arthritic conditions, particularly osteoarthritis.[45,46,47,48]
Curcuma longa, commonly referred to as turmeric, has been used in traditional systems of medicine for about four thousand years. Recent studies support many of the reported benefits associated with turmeric. It has been shown to help battle infections and reduce inflammation. Due to its anti-inflammatory benefits, it has been successfully used to treat arthritis.[50,51,52]
Consider stacking your preferred joint support supplement with a good multivitamin product. Multivitamins may provide additional indirect benefits to joint health.
Very few ingredient in joint supplements cause side effects. If anythingn, herbs like bosellia serrata has not been studied enough to understand teh long-term effects on humans.[1, 5] Chondroitin is known to cause minor problems, like headaches or drowsiness, in a limited number of individuals and glucosamine may cause gastrointestinal discomfort.[6, 17]
Before taking any supplements to treat joint pain or disease, talk to your doctor about a formulation that will best suit your unique health nees.
Unlike other health problems eating a well-rounded diet and consuming lots of fruits and vegetables will not necessarily benefit joints and it definitely won't slow or prevent symptoms associated with joint health and aging. Also, some of the ingredients required for reducing inflammation or keeping cartilege healthy are not present in food sources or, like with chondroitin, is only available in a food source that few poeple actually enjoy consuming, such as gristle or bone broth.
|Boswellia serrata||This ingredient is only available as a plant extract and is not present in any food source.|
|Chondroitin||The best food source for chondroitin is gristle, the tough, connective tissue found in certain cuts of meat.|
|Collagen||A number of foods contain collagen including: gelatin, bone broth, and cartilage or gristle.|
|Hyaluronic acid||Organ meats have been listed as sources rich in hyaluronic acid.|
|Methylsulfonyethane (MSM)||MSM occurs naturally in a variety of common foods, including cow's milk, fruit, vegetables, meat, seafood, coffee, tea, and even chocolate.|
|Omega-3 fatty acids||Seafood, such as tuna, salmon, and halibut. Algae and krill are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Some plants and nut oils are also good sources for EFAs.|
|Turmeric||Turmeric is a yellow-orange spice often used in Indian cuisine.|
Where to buy
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- Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center; Integrative Medicine; "Boswellia;" Updated November 2012
- Kimmatkar N., et al.; Phytomedicine: International Journal of Phytotherapy and Phytopharmacology; "Efficacy and tolerability of Boswellia serrata extract in treatment of osteoarthritis of knee--a randomized double blind placebo controlled trial;" January 2003
- Nikam TD., et al.; Physiology and Molecular Biology of Plants; "Micropropagation and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic agent boswellic acid production in callus cultures of Boswellia serrata Roxb;" January 2013
- Reichling J., et al.; Schweizer Archiv fur Tierheilkunde; "Dietary support with Boswellia resin in canine inflammatory joint and spinal disease;" February 2004
- Arthritis Foundation; Research Update; "Herbal Extract Safe and Effective for OA;" September - October 2008
- University of Maryland Medical Center; "Chondroitin;" Updated May 2013
- National Institutes of Health; National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM); "Questions and Answers: NIH Glucosamine/Chondroitin Arthritis Intervention Trial Primary Study;" May 2002
- McAlindon TE., et al.,; Osteoarthritis and Cartilage; "OARSI guidelines for the non-surgical management of knee osteoarthritis;" January 2014 (Also covers rosehips, glucosamin, hyaluronic acid)
- Omata T., et al.,; Arzneimittel-Forschung; "Effects of chondroitin sulfate-C on articular cartilage destruction in murine collagen-induced arthritis;" February 2000
- Raj SJ., Joseph B.; International Journal of Pharma and Bio Sciences; "Pharmacognostic and traditional properties of Cissus quadrancularis Linn -An overview;" January – March 2011
- Bloomer RJ., et al.; The Physician and Sports Medicine; "Cissus quadrangularis reduces joint pain in exercise-trained men: a pilot study;" September 2013
- Stohs SJ., Ray SD.; Phytotherapy Research; "A review and evaluation of the efficacy and safety of Cissus quadrangularis extracts;" August 2013
- University of Aberdeen; "Collagen;" 2014
- Bello AE., Oesser S.; Current Medical Research and Opinion; "Collagen hydrolysate for the treatment of osteoarthritis and other joint disorders: a review of the literature;" November 2006
- Moskowitz RW.; Seminars in Arthritis and Rheumatism; "Role of collagen hydrolysate in bone and joint disease;" October 2000
- Clark KL., et al.; Current Medical Research and Opinion; "24-Week study on the use of collagen hydrolysate as a dietary supplement in athletes with activity-related joint pain;" May 2008
- University of Maryland Medical Center; "Glucosamine;" Updated May 2013
- Zerkak D., Dougados M.; Current Rheumatology Reports; "The use of glucosamine therapy in osteoarthritis;" February 2004
- Delafuente JC.; Rheumatic Diseases Clinics of North America; "Glucosamine in the treatment of osteoarthritis;" February 2000
- Gregory PJ., et al.; American Family Physician; "Dietary supplements for osteoarthritis;" January 2008
- Ruane R, Griffiths P.; British Journal of Community Nursing; "Glucosamine therapy compared to ibuprofen for joint pain;" March 2002
- Wen D.; American Family Physician; "Intra-articular Hyaluronic Acid Injections for Knee Osteoarthritis;" August 2000
- Shu-Fen S., et al.; Current Reviews in Musculoskeletal Medicine; "Hyaluronic acid as a treatment for ankle osteoarthritis;" March 2009
- Laurent TC., Fraser JR.; FASEB Journal; "Hyaluronan;" April 1992
- Peyron JG.; The Journal of Rheumatology; "Intraarticular hyaluronan injections in the treatment of osteoarthritis: state-of-the-art review;" August 1993
- University of Maryland Medical Center; "Sulfur;" Updated May 2013
- Ezaki J., et al.; Journal of Bone and Mineral Metabolism; "Assessment of safety and efficacy of methylsulfonylmethane on bone and knee joints in osteoarthritis animal model;" January 2013
- Debbi EM., et al.; BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine; "Efficacy of methylsulfonylmethane supplementation on osteoarthritis of the knee: a randomized controlled study;" June 2011
- Brien S., et al.; Osteoarthritis and Cartilage; "Systematic review of the nutritional supplements dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) and methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) in the treatment of osteoarthritis;" November 2008
- Kim LS., et al.; Osteoarthritis and Cartilage; "Efficacy of methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) in osteoarthritis pain of the knee: a pilot clinical trial;" March 2006
- Ushna PR., Naidu MU.; Clinical Drug Investigation; "Randomised, Double-Blind, Parallel, Placebo-Controlled Study of Oral Glucosamine, Methylsulfonylmethane and their Combination in Osteoarthritis;" 2004
- Barrager E., et al.; Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine; "A multicentered, open-label trial on the safety and efficacy of methylsulfonylmethane in the treatment of seasonal allergic rhinitis;" April 2002
- NYU Langone Medical Center; "Methyl Sulfonyl Methane (MSM);" Updated August 2013
- University of Maryland Medical Center; "Omega-3 fatty acids;" Updated June 2013
- Proudman SM., et al.; Rheumatic Diseases Clinics of North America; "Dietary omega-3 fats for treatment of inflammatory joint disease: efficacy and utility;" May 2008
- Ariza-Ariza R., et al.; Seminars in Arthritis and Rheumatism; "Omega-3 fatty acids in rheumatoid arthritis: an overview;" June 1998
- Cleland LG., et al.; Drugs.; "The role of fish oils in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis;" 2003
- James M., et al.; The Proceedings of the Nutrition Society; "Fish oil and rheumatoid arthritis: past, present and future;" August 2010
- Lattanzio F. et al.; Journal of Ethnopharmacology; "In vivo anti-inflammatory effect of Rosa canina L. Extract;" September 2011
- Cameron M., et al.; Phytotherapy Research; "Evidence of effectiveness of herbal medicinal products in the treatment of arthritis. Part I: Osteoarthritis;" November 2009
- Chrubasik JE., et al.; Phytotherapy Research; "Evidence of effectiveness of herbal antiinflammatory drugs in the treatment of painful osteoarthritis and chronic low back pain;" July 2007
- Winther K., et al.; Inflammopharmacology; "The anti-inflammatory properties of rose-hip;" 1999
- NYU Langone Medical Center; "Rose Hips;" Updated August 2013
- University of Maryland Medical Center; "S-adenosylmethionine;" Updated June 2013
- Caruso I., Pietrogrande V.; The American Journal of Medicine; "Italian double-blind multicenter study comparing S-adenosylmethionine, naproxen, and placebo in the treatment of degenerative joint disease;" November 1987
- Witte S., et al.; Der Orthopade.; "[Meta-analysis of the efficacy of adenosylmethionine and oxaceprol in the treatment of osteoarthritis];" November 2002
- Soeken KL., et al.; The Journal of Family Practice; "Safety and efficacy of S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe) for osteoarthritis:" May 2002
- di Padova C.; The American Journal of Medicine; "S-adenosylmethionine in the treatment of osteoarthritis. Review of the clinical studies;" November 1987
- University of Maryland Medical Center; "Turmeric;" Updated May 2013
- Funk JL., et al.; Journal of Natural Products.; "Turmeric extracts containing curcuminoids prevent experimental rheumatoid arthritis;" March 2006
- Ramadan G., et al.; Inflammation; "Anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties of Curcuma longa (turmeric) versus Zingiber officinale (ginger) rhizomes in rat adjuvant-induced arthritis;" August 2011
- Jackson JK., et al.; Inflammation Research: official journal of the European Histamine Research Society; "The antioxidants curcumin and quercetin inhibit inflammatory processes associated with arthritis;" April 2006