Updated: Oct 4, 2022
All recommendations for supplements are not intended to represent medical advice. Because of the potential for interactions between supplements and medications, ask your doctor before starting a supplement regimen.
There are several overall classes of supplements that could be appropriate for someone suffering from chronic pain. The main types are supplements that help with inflammation, sleep/mood, and overall pain. Medical marijuana and CBD oil will be covered in another area of the website.
Anti-inflammatory supplements include those that can work to help with the inflammation that is often part of joint and spine pain. Listed below are some of the most commonly used treatments.
Fish oil is often used to help with arthritis pain. Omega-3 supplementation in particular has helped with joint pain in some studies. Making sure that the fish oil is natural (not made in a lab) and not contaminated with mercury or other toxins is important.
Tumeric also can function as an anti- inflammatory. The most important component of turmeric root is curcumin which makes up only a small part of the powdered spice. Making sure that the product is 95% curcumin (extracted from turmeric root) is
Avocado-Soybean Unsaponifiables (ASU)
ASU is used as a prescription anti-inflammatory for arthritis pain in France where it is called piascladine. It often helps with arthritis pain but may take up to several months to show benefit.
This Indian herb has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. An extract (Boswellic acid) can help those with arthritis. Boswellia can upset the stomach,
Glucosamine and chondroitin are often used in combination for arthritis. The medical evidence for effectiveness is mixed, but many do see benefit. A two
month trial is usually sufficient.
Supplements to help with sleep and mood are also potentially useful. The most common treatments are again listed below:
5-HTP: a precursor of serotonin and thus can help with mood and sleep. Dosing at bedtime seems to work best. This should not be used in combination with any medication that raises serotonin levels.
Valerian root/ Kava kava: often used for insomnia. While they are often effective, there have been some reports of severe liver injury in those taking these supplements.
Finally, there are supplements intended to help specifically with pain. The most often discussed in the media of late is kratom, which functions much like an opioid. It is highly likely that the sale of kratom will soon be restricted by the FDA.