When the barometric pressure and temperature changes in the winter months, your muscles, ligaments, and tendons can tighten up. The result is that dreaded stiff feeling. It can be so predictable that you might even think you're a more accurate indicator of cold and snow than the evening weather report. Researchers have differing opinions on how much the weather affects how we feel, but let’s face it—the joints have spoken!
Not everything can be attributed to the weather report. The choices you make in winter can go a long way in making a difference in how you feel. Choosing a “couch potato” sedentary path and not taking advantage of all the proven, sound answers available to you could find you ending up with a winter of discontent. (Sorry Shakespeare!)
Winter is Not an Excuse
Don’t use winter, cold, and the slippery elements outside as a reason to stop exercising. That may seem like an easy rationale to hang up your sneakers for a season, but don’t fall into that trap.
Commit to movement!
While it can be more challenging to exercise and eat correctly in winter as compared to the other three seasons, it isn’t wise to “take off” a portion of the year. Joint stiffness often improves after activity because the joint has been warmed up. Don’t be overwhelmed by trying to do more than you can, but make some type of daily exercise a part of your routine. Also, wearing woolen (or cotton) long underwear (upper and lower body) when in the cold can markedly decrease pain, as can a hot bath containing 2 cups of Epsom salts and a few drops of lavender oil.
The “Yes” and the “No” for Relief
Often people will turn to pain relievers like acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and aspirin. These aren’t the best choices because of what we now know. They have the potential for serious side effects which can include nausea, liver damage, and stomach bleeding—and the list goes on and on. Thankfully, there are some excellent choices to help with the pain and stiffness of winter joint maladies. Let’s take a look at some natural ingredients that reduce inflammation and relieve pain. These natural ingredients are superior to conventional drugs in both how they work and their safety.
First, because it’s such a powerhouse, let’s look at Curcumin—the active component in turmeric. It can make all the difference for your joints because of its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Be careful which curcumin extract you choose as most don’t absorb well in the digestive tract. Make sure you use a clinically studied, highly absorbable, micronized curcumin extract like BCM-95 which is re-blended with turmeric essential oil. This oil is rich in a compound called turmerones. In addition to boosting absorption, turmerones also make curcumin more active after absorption. The key is not just what you take, but what you absorb.
More Options with More Added
Curcumin is also great when combined with other botanicals. Topping the list is boswellia, a potent herb from India that comes from a resin of the boswellia tree. It has another name that you may recognize—frankincense. Sound familiar? You are probably used to hearing the name frankincense at holiday time along with gold and myrrh. Boswellia works extremely well with curcumin. It has been used for thousands of years to relieve pain and inflammation. Look for a boswellia extract that has reduced levels of beta-boswellic acids. That’s important because otherwise it can act as a pro-inflammatory—exactly what you don’t want. The boswellia extract you choose should be standardized to more than 10 percent AKBA, the most anti-inflammatory compound in the herb. Some unstandardized boswellia extracts have very low levels of AKBA—as little as one percent. Curcumin and boswellia are influential because they reduce the activity of the two most significant pain pathways in the body called COX-2 and 5-LOX. Researchers have developed pharmaceutical drugs as part of the arsenal of weapons against these pathways. However, those developed drugs also come along with nasty side effects including gastrointestinal bleeding and cardiovascular problems. Instead of side effects, the herbals offer numerous “side benefits!”
Another recommendation? Add two more anti-inflammatory herbs to the combination of curcumin and boswellia. Indian gooseberry—also known as “amla”—and devil’s claw. You have to be a wise consumer and make sure the Indian gooseberry you choose is standardized to contain 35 percent total polyphenol content. Choose devil’s claw that is standardized to 20 percent harpagosides. This type of devil’s claw has been shown to improve joint lubrication by up to 41 percent. The powerful combination of high-absorption curcumin, specialized boswellia, Indian gooseberry (amla), and devil’s claw will provide a reliable answer for winter joint woes.
An additional option? Vitamin D and fructoborate. In some revealing research, a vitamin D deficiency showed up in 69 percent of patients with inflammatory joint diseases or connective tissue diseases and 71 percent with osteoporosis. We know we don’t often get out as much in the winter to absorb sunshine—a great source for vitamin D. That’s why it’s important to take a daily D supplement, especially in the colder months. Low levels of vitamin D might even play a role in how sensitive you are to arthritis pain, according to recent research.
So why add in fructoborate, which is found naturally in fruits and vegetables? Because this unique form of boron provides targeted support to joint structure and helps the body absorb and use vitamin D. It also increases levels of DHEA, a hormone that supports the adrenal glands and energy levels.
Ready to say goodbye to winter joint pain? Now you have the knowledge you need for the perfect anecdotes to winter aches and pains—a winter without discontent. Shakespeare will just have to understand.
Source: Good Health Lifestyles, Author: Jacob Teitelbaum, MD Dr, Teitelbaum is a board-certified internist and an expert in chronic pain. He is the author of numerous books and booklets, the most recent being the Better Nutrition Healthy Living Guide, Conquer Chronic Pain.