Updated: Nov 30, 2020
You want relief that does more than simply mask pain, but also stops inflammation without the risks to your kidneys, stomach, liver, and heart, natural ingredients that reduce inflammation and relieve pain by inhibiting the COX-2 (cyclooxygenase-2) and 5-LOX (5-lipoxygenase) enzymes, without dangerous side effects.
Inflammation is the beginning of all pain. It is triggered by damage to your body. Typically, when we think of inflammation we think of heat, redness, swelling, and pain. Pain is our warning signal that something is in need of repair. Inflammation and pain are normal and necessary when we have an injury, such as a sprained ankle. Chronic inflammation that lasts and lasts, however, is not normal.
Inflammation is triggered by the release of hormone-like compounds called prostaglandins, especially PGE2, and is sustained by the inflammatory COX-2 enzyme. Aspirin inhibits COX-2, and it also inhibits COX-1, which is a protective prostaglandin for the lining of the digestive tract and blood vessels.
CURCUMIN AND BOSWELLIA
Curcumin is a compound from the herb turmeric (Curcuma longa). It is extremely effective in relieving inflammation, which, along with oxidation, is the cause of all chronic disease, including cancer. The curcumin I recommend has also been clinically studied to stop pain, inflammation, and heal joint damage.
One of the studies followed 45 individuals with rheumatoid arthritis, randomized to three groups. Group one received 50 mg of diclofenac sodium twice daily; group two received 500 mg of high-absorption curcumin twice daily; and group three received both diclofenac sodium and curcumin. The high-absorption curcumin was more effective than diclofenac sodium at reducing joint pain and swelling. Taking the curcumin with the drug was no more effective than using the botanical alone, and taking the drug alone was less effective.
The form of curcumin you choose makes all the difference. That’s because not all curcumin extracts are the same, and they don’t all absorb well. In fact, in many of the studies with curcumin, researchers have needed to use very high amounts – up to 12 grams daily – in order to maintain therapeutic blood levels that showed a benefit.
Supplement manufacturers have tried to make it easier for the body to use with varying degrees of success. Many standardize their extracts to 95% curcumin, but unfortunately that method alone isn’t very effective.
There is a better form, and stems from research by scientists in India who’ve isolated a curcuminoid complex (curcumin is one kind of curcuminoid). This form of high-absorption curcumin is re-blended with the essential oil of turmeric for greater absorption and blood retention time at meaningful levels compared to standard 95% curcumin extracts.
Because it is absorbed so well, curcumin blended with turmeric essential oil is extremely effective in reducing pain and inflammation. It not only inhibits COX-2, but does it in such a way as not to block it completely since we do need some COX-2 for other body functions. And it does this without any significant side effects! Remember, it isn’t just what you take - it is what you ABSORB that counts.
Boswellia (Boswellia serrata), another strong, traditionally used botanical from India, works extremely well with curcumin.
It is especially effective and potent at reducing joint pain associated with arthritis by inhibiting the inflammatory enzyme, 5-LOX. I believe that extracts with a guaranteed amount of AKBA (acetyl-11-keto-β-boswellic acid) that also are low in β-boswellic acid (which interferes with beneficial activity) really boost the effectiveness of boswellia.
The uniquely standardized boswellia and high absorption curcumin I recommend have been proven to effectively fight osteoarthritis pain. An osteoarthritis study that compared the two botanicals to the generic celecoxib (known under the brand name Celebrex) for individuals with osteoarthritis showed excellent results.
One group received 100 mg of celecoxib twice daily, while the second group received a 500 mg blend of high-absorption curcumin and uniquely standardized boswellic acid extract twice daily.
When it came to relieving pain, 64% of those taking the two-herb combination versus 29% in the drug group improved to such a high degree that they were able to move from having “moderate to severe arthritis” to “mild to moderate arthritis.” Like the RA study, this research shows that the power of a natural pain-fighting botanical was extremely impressive.
The pain reliever DLPA (DL-phenylalanine) contains two forms of the amino acid phenylalanine. The “l” form improves mood-elevating chemicals in the brain, such as dopamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine. The “d” form of phenylalanine appears to block a nervous system enzyme (enzyme carboxypeptidase A) that intensifies pain signals. DLPA helps prevent the breakdown of enkephalins, one of the brain’s natural pain-killing substances, which are in the same family as endorphins. DLPA supplements combine the “l” and “d” forms of phenylalanine, which work synergistically to reduce chronic pain and improve mood – two concerns that are interconnected.
Many people confuse DLPA (found abundantly in fish, yogurt and tofu) with aspartame (NutraSweet or Equal), which also has the amino acid phenylalanine as an ingredient. These are not the same compounds and do not act in the same way in our body. Aspartame breaks down into an unnatural toxic substance not found in the human diet, which can cause some people to be sick or have migraine headaches. When DLPA breaks down, it converts to tyrosine, which is a precursor to helpful neurotransmitters like dopamine, epinephrine and norepinephrine; melanin, a healthy pigment in the skin; and thyroid hormone. It does not metabolize into toxic substances. There are no health concerns with DLPA causing migraine headaches or other problems.
The third natural partner for curcumin is the enzyme nattokinase. This enzyme extract helps to carry the other ingredients through the bloodstream so they can get to where they are needed most – including your sore muscles and joints. Nattokinase also helps reduce circulating fibrinogen - a compound that causes stiff muscles and can, over time, actually damage muscle and joint tissue when present in elevated amounts.