One of the latest health crazes is oil. Many people take krill oil and coconut oil to promote healthy joints and fish oil to promote a healthy heart. But how effective are these oils and do they really promote healthy joints and a healthy heart?

In terms of diet, probably the most important way to reduce inflammation is to eliminate sugar and all grains. Using just this simple strategy may provide amazing relief. Refined carbohydrates can aggravate joints and even cause degeneration. Excess acids in the system do exactly what they sound like they do—they deteriorate and damage cells. Additionally, the body’s survival mechanism will attempt to neutralize these acids. So, as you consume sugar, flours, grains, and other refined carbohydrates, your bloodstream can end up in acid overload. The result is the beginning of degenerative arthritis.

For some, dairy and caffeine are two additional major acid culprits. I believe that metabolic typing and knowing one’s type is a great solution to avoiding and even reversing some of the damaging effects of arthritis as a result of diet. Please refer to the two articles that I’ve written about metabolic typing here on the site.

Fats play a major role in the inflammatory process as well. Excess omega-6 and omega-9 fats will add fuel to the fire of arthritis. Taking high quality fish oil (krill oil) and coconut oil will help put out this fire. Krill oil is an omega 3 fat (DHA/EPA). It’s important to get adequate amounts of omega-3 fatty acids because DHA and EPA are very helpful for normalizing the immune dysfunction that seems to be a major contributing factor in both rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis (MS). Because hydration is also a major factor, drinking enough water daily will help put out the fire of arthritis. Walking around on dry joints is just as bad as it sounds.

If eliminating sugar and grains doesn’t provide you with adequate relief, the following herbal solutions may be able to provide the benefits of painkilling drugs without raising your risk of serious health problems like heart attacks and stroke:

Ginger: This herb is anti-inflammatory and offers pain relief and stomach settling properties. Fresh ginger works well steeped in boiling water as a tea or grated into vegetable juice. Powder capsules are also available, but the fresh root is better.

Boswellia: Also known as boswellin or “Indian frankincense,” this herb contains specific active anti-inflammatory ingredients referred to as boswellic acids that have been found to significantly reduce inflammation in animal studies. In another study of 175 patients with rheumatic disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, 122 participants had reduced stiffness and inflammation just two to four weeks after starting boswellia supplementation.

Fish oils (mentioned above): The omega-3 fats EPA and DHA found in fish oil have been found by many animal and clinical studies to have anti-inflammatory properties that reduce joint inflammation and promote joint lubrication.

Omega-3 fats are very important for any comprehensive anti-inflammatory program. They form the precursors to the molecules that actually produce or inhibit inflammation in your body (prostaglandins). That’s why it’s essential to make sure that you’re getting enough. It’s also important to understand that you need to reduce omega-6 fats like vegetable oils, seeds, and nuts because it’s actually the ratio of omega 6:3 fats that determines how much inflammation is present. You could theoretically consume enough omega-3 fish oils to work but then ruin the effect by consuming too many omega-6 fats.

Bromelain: This enzyme, found in pineapples, is a natural anti-inflammatory. It can be taken in supplement form but eating fresh pineapple would probably be better.

Cetyl myristoleate (CMO): This oil, found in fish and dairy butter, acts as a “joint lubricant” and an anti-inflammatory. Raw butter contains a “wulzen anti-stiffness factor.” This factor has been found to be highly effective in reversing arthritis and protects against the calcification of joints.
In one study of 106 people with various types of arthritis who didn’t respond to NSAIDs, 63.5 percent of those who took CMO orally and applied the cream topically (it’s available both in an oral supplement and a cream) improved compared to only 14.5 percent of those taking a placebo. Raw butter would be the best followed by organic butter or ghee.

Evening primrose, black currant, and borage oils: These contain the essential fatty acid gamma linolenic acid (GLA), which is useful for treating arthritic pain. These are the exception to omega-6 fats that are necessary to have in your diet. In one study of 37 rheumatoid arthritis patients, those who received 1.4 grams of GLA per day reduced the number of tender joints by 36 percent, the tenderness of the joints by 45 percent, the number of swollen joints by 28 percent, and the degree of joint swelling by 41 percent. The placebo group showed no significant improvements.

Borage oil contains a higher concentration of GLA, which means you need fewer capsules and it’s usually more cost effective.

Cayenne cream: Also called capsaicin cream, this spice comes from dried hot peppers. It alleviates pain by depleting the body’s supply of substance P, a chemical component of nerve cells that transmit pain signals to the brain.

Actual food is always better than taking a supplement. However, many times this may not be practical. Therefore, supplementation is a good thing. In regards to fish, many of the ones that contain the beneficial amounts of DHA/EPA are also the same ones that contain unsafe levels of mercury. Although beyond the scope of this article, mercury is very, very harmful and should be avoided at all times. That’s why I recommend krill oil above everything else for DHA/EPA.