Six supplements to avoid if you have arthritis

Many safe, natural approaches can help you relieve and even reverse your chronic pain, whether you suffer from osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, degenerative and herniated spinal discs, or fibromyalgia. And I recently launched a comprehensive pain-reversing protocol that outlines all these science-backed approaches.

In one section of my new pain protocol, you’ll learn everything you need to know about key dietary supplements that can help you get the relief you need, quickly AND safely. But you also need to know about the supplements you should avoid if you suffer from arthritis. Today, I’ll tell you something about six of them…


Aconite belongs to the buttercup family. But don’t be fooled by its charming family name. Aconite can be poisonous.

Some natural practitioners of homeopathy do use it in very, very small doses to treat rheumatoid arthritis and inflammation as well as fear, anxiety and restlessness. But these doses are so small, the U.S. Pharmacopeia has considered them safe since 1937. Practitioners of Chinese Medicine also use it to improve circulation and inflammation. But again, its use must be carefully monitored by an experienced practitioner.

Bottom line? Don’t try this remedy at home. It can be dangerous when ingested as a supplement or infusion (herbal tea), with a risk of nausea and vomiting. And recent research links it to irregular heartbeats, which can be potentially fatal.

Arnica (Montana)

The FDA lists this perennial plant as poisonous. But it has a long history of use for healing injury and pain. In fact, it’s an effective pain reliever when applied topically to the skin over areas of injury, such as painful bruises. And I know many dermatologists and cosmetic surgeons who routinely use it on their patients following surgery because it results in better skin healing. Other studies show, when used topically, it’s even more effective than NSAID drugs for relief of arthritis pain.

However, no studies show arnica is safe to take internally as a supplement. So keep your use of Arnica gels skin deep. (Like aconite, it is also used in very small doses in homeopathic medicine under the care of a licensed homeopathic practitioner.)


You can find Arth-Q sold over the counter as a dietary supplement for arthritis, joint and muscle pain. However, the FDA found its main ingredient is actually ibuprofen, the common NSAID drug. Depending on which medications you already take, this deceptive product could interfere with them, or even make you dangerously exceed your dosage.

As I previously reported, excessive doses of NSAIDs increase your risk of GI bleeding, intestinal perforation, heart problems, and cardiovascular problems.

My advice? Avoid this pseudo-drug supplement. If you have purchased Arth-Q, return it immediately for a full refund as a dangerous and deceptive product. (The FDA recommends you just throw it out. But, as a government entity, they’ve never been good when it comes to handling your money anyway.)

Cat’s claw

This supplement comes from the root and bark of a vine that grows in the Amazon and Central America. Some practitioners of natural medicine use it to help reduce inflammation. But I never understood its popularity since there are so many safer, more effective natural alternatives.

According to the Arthritis Foundation, cat’s claw can cause dizziness, headaches, nausea and vomiting. It’s also dangerous if you take blood thinner or blood pressure medications because it can cause low blood pressure and other potentially dangerous interactions. It’s also not advised for anyone with certain infections like tuberculosis or anyone on immunotherapy or biologic therapy.

Now, if cat’s claw were a drug, the FDA would tell us it’s okay to live with these unavoidable side effects! But there’s no reason in the world to take this dangerous herbal supplement given the excellent natural alternatives that work safely and effectively. (All of which I discuss in great detail in my Arthritis Relief and Reversal Protocol.)


Chaparral is a shrub found in the desert in southwestern U.S. and northern Mexico. It’s available as a supplement or herbal infusion (tea). Some practitioners say it reduces inflammation. But no studies support this claim, according to New York University Medical Center, where I spoke about herbal medicine in September 2012.

We do have conclusive research, however, that chaparral harms the liver. People who take other arthritis medications should avoid it because of this added risk. You also run a greater risk of liver damage when you take certain non-arthritis drugs, such as statins. Of course, you should not take statins anyway. But there is never any reason to take chaparral either.

And remember, your liver recognizes any drug you take as a chemical. Then, the liver works to detoxify, metabolize, and eliminate it. In fact, the reason why people must take drugs twice or three times per day is because the body works so hard to get rid of them.

Overall, any “foreign” substance that enters the body — including poisonous plants or toxic supplements — also goes to the liver for detox. So, be careful not to load your liver with too much at one time — no matter what you take.


Kombucha is a trendy treatment with a variety of supposed health benefits, including reducing arthritis pain. But I have never recommended it and simply cannot account for its enduring popularity.

You make it by fermenting black tea — which has already been fermented from green tea — with a mixture of bacteria and yeast. Proponents claim it boosts the immune system and helps the liver detox. But despite its wild popularity and persistence in the natural health marketplace, no research exists to demonstrate its benefits.

However, users do report a number of adverse reactions, including liver damage, nausea, and vomiting. These adverse reactions don’t surprise me. The brewing process can easily result in bacterial contamination. (It sounds like a perfect culture medium for growing bacteria of all kinds under uncontrolled conditions.)

Even when successfully brewed without contamination, it is highly acidic. As a result, it can decrease the effectiveness of other supplements or medications that depend on the acid-base balance in the stomach and intestines for adsorption. Acidic substances like kombucha can also cause GI irritation and kidney stones.

I don’t know where ideas like this come from (but I will guess, California), or why they persist. But they add fuel to the fire for doctors who dismiss all non-drug approaches as nonsense and want to “throw out the baby with the bathwater.”

In this case, the “bathwater” is kombucha. But I bet the bathwater tastes better.

Fortunately, you don’t need to take the risks associated with any of these questionable supplements. You can prevent and even reverse arthritis pain using safe and effective dietary supplements supported by plenty of scientific evidence. You can learn all about these supplements and all the other steps you can take to combat pain in my new comprehensive arthritis protocol.


1. “Six supplements to avoid with RA,” Everyday Health (  5/1/2015