Natural Relief For Osteoarthritis


There are many forms of arthritis. The most common is osteoarthritis (OA). Although this mainly occurs in older age, it can affect younger people. The causes are still unclear; it is likely many factors trigger osteoarthritis.  In osteoarthritis the smooth cartilage lining covering the bone becomes thin and worn which means the bone is left unprotected. Swelling occurs when the body tries to protect this area by increasing the fluid around the joint; this swelling causes pain. Small outgrowths of bone or nodules can develop on the exposed bones, deforming the shape of the bone.


Naturopaths have for many years advocated changes in the diet as part of the natural approach for relief from arthritis. Different foods can aggravate the symptoms of osteoarthritis depending on the individual. Even if you only have mild joint pain you need to take action right now. When severe joint degeneration occurs it is much harder to regain health.


Recent research indicates attention to diet can help sufferers of osteoarthritis (13). There are some general guidelines regarding diet that, regardless of the stage of osteoarthritis, may be helpful.  We are so fortunate to be literally surrounded by a source of the NZ Green Lipped Mussel. This is now used worldwide to help give relief in osteoarthritis and joint pain (1, 2). The high levels of nutrients in the mussel which include essential fatty acids, especially omega 3, vitamin E, vitamin C, zinc, manganese and chondrotin may explain its benefits.


We also have an abundance of avocados which research has indicated may be helpful to relieve osteoarthritis symptoms (6). Olives, also grown here in the Bay have been shown to help relive symptoms (7). Green Tea containing Catechins has been shown to protect the cartilage and stop it from degenerating (3, 4).


Research has shown the spices Ginger (4, 5) and Turmeric (4) are helpful in giving relief from the pain of osteoarthritis. You can use ginger to make a tea, or use it as part of your cooking. Turmeric is a  mild spice that goes well with casseroles and curries. Live bio probiotic yoghurt is another food that is being studied, as this too may help (8). Dont use the sugary custard type yoghurt as it may stir up symptoms, use the plain bio probiotic yoghurt only. Glucosamine has been shown to reduce joint pain; it can be as effective as anti-inflammatory medicines if taken over a six week period. Vitamin D, another nutrient important for bones can slow the progression of osteoarthritis (11,12).


Foods likely to make symptoms worse for osteoarthritis sufferers are: coffee (9) and alcohol (9). Both of these increase acidity and homocysteine levels which may increase symptoms of osteoarthritis. Decrease over acidity by avoiding foods that disagree with you, increasing your vegetables and by including one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar in a little warm water in the morning. The B vitamins, in particular B12 and Folic acid (9), and methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) can decrease homocysteine levels and relieve symptoms (10).


If supplements are used I recommend the Entire Katoa Food State supplements for the best absorption.


Watch the Video about How Nutrition and Exercise can Help Keep Bones Strong


Contact Bay Health Clinic today to find out more or to book a consultation with one of our Naturopaths; if needed they will also prepare tailored herbal medicines and recommend supplements to help you feel your best.  Call 07 571 3226 or email us:



1. Bierer, T.L. and L.M. Bui,Improvement of Arthritic Signs in Dogs Fed Green-Lipped Mussel (Perna canaliculus). J. Nutr., 2002. 132(6): p. 1634S-1636.

2. Servet, E., V. Biourge, and P. Marniquet, Dietary Intervention Can Improve Clinical Signs in Osteoarthritic Dogs. J. Nutr., 2006. 136(7): p. 1995S-1997.

3. Adcocks, C., P. Collin, and D.J. Buttle, Catechins from Green Tea (Camellia sinensis) Inhibit Bovine and Human Cartilage Proteoglycan and Type II Collagen Degradation In Vitro. J. Nutr., 2002. 132(3): p. 341-346.

4.  Ahmed, S., et al., Biological Basis for the Use of Botanicals in Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis: A Review. eCAM, 2005. 2(3): p. 301-308.

5. Altman, R.D. and K.C. Marcussen, Effects of a ginger extract on knee pain in patients with osteoarthritis. Arthritis & Rheumatism, 2001. 44(11): p. 2531-2538.

6. Christensen, R., et al., Symptomatic efficacy of avocadoâ€soybean unsaponifiables (ASU) in osteoarthritis (OA) patients: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Osteoarthritis and cartilage / OARS, Osteoarthritis Research Society, 2008. 16(4): p. 399-408.

7.  Catherine, M.B., et al., Olive extract supplement decreases pain and improves daily activities in adults with osteoarthritis and decreases plasma homocysteine in those with rheumatoid arthritis. 2007. 27(8): p. 470-477.

8.  Baharav, E., et al., Lactobacillus GG Bacteria Ameliorate Arthritis in Lewis Rats. J. Nutr., 2004. 134(8): p. 1964-1969.

9.  Refsum, H., et al., The Hordaland Homocysteine Study: A Community-Based Study of Homocysteine, Its Determinants, and Associations with Disease. J. Nutr., 2006. 136(6): p. 1731S-1740.

10.  Kim, L.S., et al., Efficacy of methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) in osteoarthritis pain of the knee: a pilot clinical trial. Osteoarthritis and cartilage / OARS, Osteoarthritis Research Society, 2006. 14(3): p. 286-294. 

11.  Nancy, E.L., et al., Serum vitamin D levels and incident changes of radiographic hip osteoarthritis: A longitudinal study. Arthritis & Rheumatism, 1999. 42(5): p. 854-860.

12.   McAlindon, T.E., et al., Relation of Dietary Intake and Serum Levels of Vitamin D to Progression of Osteoarthritis of the Knee among Participants in the Framingham Study. Annals of Internal Medicine, 1996. 125(5): p. 353-359.

13.  Sowers, M., Epidemiology of risk factors for osteoarthritis: systemic factors. Current Opinion in Rheumatology, 2001. 13(5): p. 447-451.