Next week marks Rheumatoid Arthritis Awareness Week (13–18th September), an event dedicated to increasing the profile of a frequently misunderstood disease that affects approximately 1% of the population – over 430,000 people in the UK.
Arthritis is often considered an ailment affecting older people, however rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune condition that can cause joint damage at all ages, with three quarters of people first diagnosed still within a working age. Sufferers experience debilitating symptoms including chronic joint pain, inflammation, stiffness, reduced mobility and chronic fatigue, as healthy joint tissues are wrongly attacked and destroyed, causing permanent damage.
Nikki, 63 from Liverpool, first started to notice symptoms of RA over a decade ago. ‘I didn’t think much of it when I first began noticing pain in my wrists, so I was shocked when many investigations and blood tests later resulted in a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis. It wasn’t long before the pain and stiffness had also developed in my fingers, toes, shoulders, hips and elbow joints, eventually having a huge impact on my life.’
‘It can be frustrating living with RA as I never know how I am going to feel from one day to the next, making it hard to keep my daily plans as the pain can be so bad. I have been prescribed all sorts of medications, from steroids to regular injections and painkillers, and although some treatments have helped reduce flare-ups, nothing has been able to completely relieve the pain.’
Severe disability and permanent joint damage can result from RA if not successfully treated. The usual drugs used for treating RA are disease modifying drugs and corticosteroids – often alongside non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and painkiller use, which are associated with unpleasant side effects, particularly if used over a prolonged period.
Fortunately, there are alternative natural treatments available to help patients to manage joint inflammation associated with RA safely and effectively. Reluctant to depend on painkillers long-term, Nikki was keen to find a more sustainable alternative. Having had no luck with both turmeric and kale supplements, a colleague suggested she try GOPO Joint Health, a supplement with high levels of GOPO, an active compound specially derived from rose-hip powder.
‘Within three weeks I felt a significant improvement; since then, I haven’t needed to rely on painkillers once! It has made such a difference, particularly with the arthritis in my feet such that I can finally walk without any pain. For 10 years the effects of arthritis have impacted my everyday life. On bad days exercising, and sometimes even walking, felt impossible, and it has had a knock-on effect on my sleep. When so much of my life has been affected by arthritis, small improvements like being able to get out of bed easily, can make a huge difference to my day. I would definitely recommend GOPO Joint Health and feel like my overall quality of life has significantly improved.’
Nikki is not alone in her experience and is supported by numerous scientific studies that have shown the galactolipid GOPO, a natural anti-inflammatory, produces significant and consistent pain relief and improved mobility in people with hard-to-treat chronic joint conditions. In one double-blind randomised controlled trial, 89 patients with RA received supplementation of the active compound, known as GOPO, or placebo for a six-month period. During the trial, symptoms were shown to improve by about 30% among those taking GOPO®, including a reduction in joint tenderness and an increase in activity levels.
According to consultant rheumatologist Dr Rod Hughes: ‘Rose-hip extracts have a long history of medicinal use and their potential benefits in the treatment of RA have relatively recently come to light. The most consistent and robust research has been undertaken on extracts from a specific species of rose-hip called Rosa canina, which has been found to contain a potent anti-inflammatory ingredient called galactolipid (or GOPO for short). GOPO® has been investigated in a number of well-designed studies conducted in Scandinavia and Germany involving people with hard to treat joint conditions. These studies found that GOPO® can rapidly reduce joint pain, stiffness and swelling, improve joint mobility and reduce the need for standard painkillers.’
GOPO is considered by many to be a safer and effective alternative to paracetamol and other prescription medications and could be a first-line treatment option for joint health patients. In one study, 8 out of 10 patients reported a significant reduction in pain after just three weeks of GOPO.