Arthritis pain can be a constant, unwanted companion. When the smallest move brings about discomfort, you’re constantly looking for ways to help relieve it — and a new study could very well be the breakthrough many of us have been waiting for. According to researchers, a diet rich in gallic acid, paired with light exercise, could offer a cure for arthritis pain.
Arthritis causes inflammation in the lining of your joints, which often leads to tissue damage and chronic pain. Gallic acid is an antioxidant that has a positive effect on inflammation, making it potentially helpful in easing joint pain cause by arthritis. It’s found in foods like green tea and other plants, blueberries and strawberries, and nuts like cashews and hazelnuts. And in an exciting new study, scientists discovered that consuming more of it, along with taking a daily walk, could really make a difference for those suffering from arthritis.
How does gallic acid help arthritis pain?
In this study, researchers experimented on human cartilage cells from arthritic knees to see how they would respond to a combination of antioxidants and light stretching. The study tried several different kinds of antioxidants and found that gallic acid led to the most dramatic improvement. The stretching mechanism, on the other hand, essentially mirrored the effect walking has on our knee joints. By putting the two together, scientists hoped to see a reduction in inflammation that could lead to less pain.
The results were positive, in more ways than one. Not only was inflammation reduced, scientists also found that the combo of gallic acid and walking increased the production of proteins found in healthy cartilage.
“We found the combined stretching, which acts like an exercise for the cell itself, with the gallic acid decreased inflammation markers, which means we were able to reverse osteoarthritis,” said Haneen Abusharkh, the study’s lead author and a recent WSU Ph.D. graduate, said in a press release. “It’s basically like having good exercise and a good diet on a micro-scale.”
Is a cure for arthritis on the horizon?
Though it’s still in early stages, the experiment could potentially uncover ways to repair arthritic cartilage. Researchers are now looking at how they could make healthy cartilage tissue to implant back into arthritis-affected joints. This could lead to more range of motion in people with arthritis and less invasive surgeries, according to the study’s principal investigator.
“We are advancing techniques to make regenerative cartilage in the laboratory that could potentially be implanted into cartilage lesions, so that joint replacements would decrease in number,” said Bernard Van Wie, also the study’s corresponding author. “We’re looking to develop a natural cartilage that works properly from the beginning, rather than replacing the joint.”
The Importance of Exercise
For now, one thing the study definitively proves is how important exercise is for treating arthritis. “This provides some evidence that a good diet and an exercise actually work,” said Abusharkh. “Even for people who have mild osteoarthritis, it’s really good to exercise. It’s very bad for our cartilage tissue to just lie down or sit the whole day; we have to have a little bit of activity.”