Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a chronic inflammatory disease, similar to rheumatoid arthritis, affecting the lower back and the pelvis. Its symptoms include acute inflammatory flare-ups, intense pain and great fatigue. It often starts before the age of 30 and progresses gradually, causing the inflammations to reach other body parts. It has no cure, but it is the subject of regular medical care, even without relapses. The available treatment involves medication and a combination of exercises that can help alleviate its symptoms. However, another less-known effective treatment for Ankylosing spondylitis is the use of herbs or natural supplements. This article intends to discuss the different natural supplements for Ankylosing Spondylitis and their effectiveness in treating its symptoms. So, if you’re an advocate of herbal or natural supplements and prefer using them over other medications, read on!
Medicinal herbs have proven effective in treating numerous pathologies and have been used in traditional medicines since antiquity. They have proven their effectiveness even in diseases like Ankylosing Spondylitis that have no cure. Natural supplements can improve AS symptoms and work on its causes, preventing its progress, such as the stiffening and fusing of the spine. So, without further ado, let’s discuss everything you need to know about the disease and the natural supplements that can effectively treat AS symptoms!
What is Ankylosing Spondylitis?
It is an inflammatory disease of the sacroiliac joints and the spine that affects young adults and often begins around 20-25 years old.
It manifests itself by pain in the buttocks, the lower back or the middle part of the back, and heels (talalgia). The patient feels inflammatory-type pain during the day and night, causing discomfort to get up in the morning and an aspect of morning lock of the spine and pelvis.
On the onset of the inflammation or pain, patients often mistakenly think of it as banal lumbago and go on anti-inflammatory drugs. However, these drugs are less effective in treating its symptoms, leading the pain to become more disabling. Finally, consulting a rheumatologist makes it possible to diagnose the disease.
If nothing is done, the succession and repetition of the inflammatory outbreaks in the spine will gradually harden its ligaments, giving it a bamboo spine appearance on the x-ray. It is a radiological sign of spinal ankylosis, which is the stiffening of the spine; hence the first name of the disease (spondyl= vertebra, arth= joint, ankylosing= stiffness). In this condition, the patient’s back is bent more and more forward (hyper-kyphosis).
So Ankylosing Spondylitis is the inflammatory damage to the vertebrae leading to almost total stiffening of the column. It is accompanied by intense pain and fatigue that causes the inability of the lower limbs for a few hours to several weeks.
What are the Causes of Ankylosing Spondylitis
That’s a good question because the answer depends on the treatment. What is known is that there is not a single cause of this disease. It is a multifactorial disease caused by several factors:
- Genetic factors with predisposition characterized in HLA-B27
- Environmental factors; peptide (a protein), a bacterium of intestinal origin, an intestinal inflammation and a dysbiosis, the modern devitalized and “tampered” diet
A hypothesis arises that medicines are not effective in treating AS but a healthy lifestyle, proper nutritional intake, and less refined diet. Let’s explain this!
A processed diet gradually (after 20 years) disturbs the flora and the intestinal mucosa, leading to intestinal hyperpermeability that causes “micro-holes” in the intestine. These microholes will let pass bacterial degradation products whose structure is similar to vertebral structures. These bacterial peptides, which should never have passed into the bloodstream, will attach themselves to the sacroiliac joints and the vertebrae (HLAB27 predisposes them to go there especially). They are recognized by the immune system as “foreign” and thus trigger an antibody response which will go to eliminate these “intruders” by locally causing an inflammatory reaction destroying the intruder but also the substrate (the joint) on which it is fixed.
Therefore, it is considered an autoimmune disease, in which the body produces antibodies against one’s own body, which is absolutely abnormal. But all of this is primarily due to an intestinal problem.
Majority of the bowel problems come from an unbalanced diet. Therefore, treating yourself with a healthier diet that fulfills all your nutritional requirements can help prevent the onset of AS.
Treatment for Ankylosing Spondylitis
Rheumatologists mainly offer:
- Anti-inflammatory drugs to relieve pain: However, these drugs worsen the gut even more, making the disease more acute. These drugs should be taken sparingly in painful crises and avoided in the long term.
- TNF-alfa (alpha) inhibitors, a new group of medicines to inhibit the pro-inflammatory factor found most often in AS. These treatments are wrongfully called biological treatments! This is a mistake because they are not at all natural but chemical. In addition, they are very expensive and potentially dangerous. Patients consuming these medicines have a risk of developing leukemia. They do not lower the immune guard without risk), so we reserve them for severe cases.
Thus, one thing is clear that the inflammatory drugs or other medicines recommended to lower the inflammatory response of AS are not the right solution. They can lower the pain intensity or inflammation but can be harmful for the body. Therefore, today more and more people are inclined towards natural alternatives.
Natural Supplements for Ankylosing Spondylitis
Some of the natural treatments include:
Correction of Gut Dysbiosis (the Imbalance of the Intestinal Flora) – the Main Cause of AS:
In any case, the natural supplements that are allies of the gut are effective in AS. The most prominent nutrients that balance your gut are probiotics and omega3s that act in synergy. Before we share the best natural supplements available in the market, let’s discuss the effectiveness of probiotics and Omega 3s in treating AS symptoms:
1. Effectiveness of Probiotics in AS
Evidence shows that all AS patients suffer from dysbiosis compared to healthy patients. The bacteria responsible for this is Ruminoccocus Gnavus, which becomes pathogenic when present in the intestine in large quantities. It breaks down the mucus that protects the intestinal epithelium and secretes toxins that activate the intestinal cells for nonspecific immunity, resulting in an inflammatory response. If there is bad intestinal permeability, the bad molecules can pass through this strainer and invade our bodies. The result will be the triggering of inflammatory reactions and the appearance of autoimmune diseases. It, therefore, seems essential to treat the intestine.
Probiotics and prebiotics play an essential and leading role in the treatment protocol of intestinal permeability. They will help restore the intestinal flora, reintroduce good bacteria, and fight against this intestinal permeability.
Some of the best natural supplements of probiotics are Complete Gut Health + by MaryRuth’s | 3-in-1 Prebiotic + Probiotic + Postbiotic Corebiome (ASIN# B08LR2ZNL6), Probiotic Supplement up4 adult 50+ (ASIN# B075XVNGH4), MAV Nutrition Prebiotics + Probiotics for Women and Men (ASIN# B07HJD4QQJ) and Inno Gut Restore | Digestive + Probiotic Supplement, Prebiotic and Probiotic Supplement (ASIN# B09BK64BR1).
2. Effectiveness of Omega 3s in AS
There’s a lack of consensus on what diet to eat in AS. However, its prevalence is lower among the Southern Mediterranean populations. The reason is claimed to be the Mediterranean diet that contains food with anti-inflammatory properties. Evidence shows that some of the protective factors from rheumatoid arthritis include olive oil, fish oils, fruits and vegetables, all rich in Omega 3. Studies show that a daily intake of omega-3, whether in fish oil or olive oil, can have positive results.
One thing is clear that any food or medicine that has anti-inflammatory properties slows the progression of AS and alleviates its symptoms. For this, foods rich in Omega 3 have proven their worth. Therefore, young people must integrate fruits, vegetables, olive oil, fish and other seafood and lean proteins in their diet from an early age to prevent the onset of AS. In addition, since the foods rich in Omega 3 are highly anti-inflammatory, they can prevent the disease from progressing too quickly in patients already suffering from AS. Besides this, Omega 3 supports the overall immune system.
But be careful! As much as Omega 3 can be helpful in AS, Omega 6 is often not recommended in patients suffering from rheumatoid. The reason is that too much consumption of omega-6 can increase inflammation, thus developing a counter effect. Therefore, while choosing the supplement, make sure it contains Omega 3 only, especially if you’re already suffering from the disease.
Some of the best Omega 3 supplements that you can integrate into your daily intake are Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega, Omega-3-90 Softgels, High Potency Omega-3 Fish Oil Supplement (ASIN# B0739KKHWL), Freshfield Vegan Omega 3 DHA Supplement (ASIN# B07H9GL3Y8) and DaVinci Laboratories Omega 3 HP-D Fish Oil Supplement (ASIN# B003NRMUWI).
3. L-Glutamine, the most abundant amino acid in blood and muscles:
It plays an immune protective role and helps maintain the integrity of the intestinal wall, ensuring better permeability. Foods rich in Glutamine are fish, legumes, meat, etc. Some of the best options available in the market are L-Glutamine 1000mg – Best L Glutamine Supplement (ASIN# B082BJNTHH), Natural Nutra L Glutamine 500 mg Capsules, BCAAs Amino Acids Supplement (ASIN# B00TIY6YYK), Intestinal Fortitude GLR-6 – Intestinal Lining Repair Supplement (ASIN# B07PCSKBW8) ad Natural Factors, Micronized L-Glutamine 1000mg (ASIN# B00DR28D7U).
Quercetin, which is part of the flavonoid family, effectively improves the function of the intestinal barrier by filling in porous areas because it promotes the creation of proteins that tighten these areas. Thus, among the natural supplements for Ankylosing Spondylitis, Quercetin holds an important place. Among the best Quercetin supplements available are natural Amazing Formulas – Quercetin 500 Mg (ASIN# B00S59NYT2), Quercetin 1000mg- 180 Vegan Capsules, 100% Pure Pharmaceutical Grade Quercetin Supplement (ASIN# B08VL6H6WM), Quercetina con Bromelina Now Foods, 3071 (ASIN# B002JNK8EY) and NatureBell Quercetin 1000mg Per Serving, 240 Capsules (ASIN# B07H9LGDPM).
Food to Avoid in Ankylosing Spondylitis
As much as it is important to include many healthy foods in your diet, it will be necessary to eliminate certain items such as all dairy products and, if possible gluten-based foods. Eliminating these two foods from the diet can also help alleviate the patient’s symptoms. On the contrary, consuming these foods will not trigger the symptoms but also reduce the effectiveness of the anti-inflammatory drugs or natural supplements you take for relief.
Treat Pain Without Anti-Inflammatory Drugs as Much as Possible
Since the pain in AS is extremely intense, patients tend to opt for anti-inflammatory drugs. But, as mentioned above, these drugs relieve the pain for the time being and have side effects in the long term.
1. Auricular Acupuncture
A good alternative to pain-relieving medication is auricular acupuncture. You might not have heard about it, but it is extremely important in reducing pain; often considered the number one bioweapon to treat all pain. Going for auricular acupuncture enables you to take fewer anti-inflammatory drugs. In addition, it will also balance the intestine and regulate stress, which is often the cause of worsening AS symptoms. Because you should know that taking chemical drugs worsens the condition of the intestinal mucosa, it, therefore, allows us to get out of this vicious circle.
2. Use Natural Anti-Pain Gel or Poultice
Messaging anti-pain gels on the painful joint twice or thrice a day can be effective than commercial chemical anti-inflammatory gels. Applying green clay poultices on joints at night is a very old and effective remedy. A good option is Sore no-more Cooling clay Poultice (ASIN# B001C45FHG).
3. Use Harpagophytum Tincture
Likewise, consuming Harpagophytum drops before each meal or at bedtime is also very effective in relieving pain. Harpagophytum, commonly known as Devil’s Claw, is an anti-inflammatory plant that does not affect the stomach and intestinal flora and helps reduce inflammation. Many herbal brands are offering devil’s claw tinctures. Some of the best options available are Devil’s Claw alcohol-free Extract Herbal tincture (ASIN# B0714BJTRY), Devil’s Claw Liquid Alcohol-Free Tincture, Organic Devil’s Claw (ASIN# B01MR51MA8) and Devil’s Claw Tincture Alcohol Free, Organic Extract (ASIN# B07GHQBRQX).
Our Final Thoughts!
We hope the information above will help treat the symptoms of Ankylosing Spondylitis. Adopting a healthy lifestyle and avoiding certain foods is as important as consuming natural supplements for Ankylosing Spondylitis in alleviating its symptoms! Do not forget to share this information with your family and friends, and let us know what you think of it!