Arthritis discomfort, like most pain caused by inflammation, is brought on by the release of hormone-like compounds called prostaglandins. Studies show, however, that preventing the release of these compounds can stop or reduce arthritis pain. A key to this may lie in inhibiting the enzyme cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), one of the triggers that causes the release of prostaglandins (Nutrition Science News, August 2000).

COX-2 inhibitors were introduced in 1991 and are slowly taking the place of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and aspirin, which can cause undesirable side effects. Recently, the FDA approved two new pharmaceuticals, Celebrex and Vioxx, that are synthetic COX-2 inhibitors offering relief from arthritis pain. But these products can be expensive. The following are several natural and less expensive COX-2 inhibitors to consider.

  • OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS: Found in fish oil, these can change prostaglandin production, helping to control inflammation. This is accomplished by the oils' ability to moderate the production of proinflammatory mediators like prostaglandins, therefore altering their original function.
  • THUNDER GOD VINE: This plant has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for many years and has produced positive results in people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.
  • FLAVONOIDS/PHENOLICS: Recent studies show that five of these plant-based chemicals can decrease COX-2 activity. These include genistein, kaempferol, quercetin, resorcinol and resveratrol.

Remember, dosages vary, so check with your health practitioner before trying these.