UPDATE: Before you read on, we highly recommend this natural solution to TMJ issues.
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder, or TMJ, is a painful condition affecting the temporomandibular joint in the jaw.
This joint is basically the hinge that joins your jaw to the upper part of your skull. In temporomandibular joint disorder this joint is affected through a certain dysfunction such as dislocation or arthritis causing intense pain and inflammation.
While treatment can include potentially harmful relaxants and anti-inflammatory medications, fortunately, there are also a number of safe, natural dietary supplements that can help reduce the inflammation and pain associated with TMJ, and improve quality of life and functionality.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids also known as omega-3 oils provide a huge range of benefits for brain and heart health, joint function and, most importantly for TMJ sufferers, inflammation.
In fact, multiple scientific studies have shown omega-3 fatty acids to be equally effective at easing pain and inflammation as the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug ibuprofen.
This means you can get excellent pain relief and a reduction in inflammation and swelling through a natural, nutritional source, without any side effects.
Many people know of fish oil as a good source of omega-3’s, and omega-3 oils make up a varying percentage of the content of fish oils. The two major omega-3 fatty acids in fish oils are EPA and DHA and it’s important to note the quantity of each of these when choosing your supplement.
EPA is the omega-3 fatty acid responsible for reducing inflammation and improving TMJ, so this is the one you want to look out for.
For vegetarians, or others who can’t stomach the concept of fish oil, flaxseed oil is a good source of another omega-3 fatty acid, ALA. However, ALA needs to be converted to DHA and EPA in the body, so this source is often not as effective as fish oil.
Many sufferers of TMJ have been surprised to notice an improvement in their TMJ condition after taking Vitamin D3 supplements for what they thought was an unrelated Vitamin D deficiency.
But actually, Vitamin D plays a vital role in our health and well-being, particularly in the area of bone health and muscle function, both of which are involved in the disease pathology of TMJ.
Our major source of vitamin D is sunlight.
Through a series of chemical reactions that occur when sunlight strikes our skin, the body makes our own vitamin D with a reasonable amount of sun exposure.
However, with 50% of the population being vitamin D deficient, it is clear that our body’s natural mechanism of vitamin D production is not enough for many of us. This is usually a problem for those who spend a lot of time indoors, people who usually cover their skin when in the sun, or those who are naturally dark skinned.
Supplementation with Vitamin D3 can help replenish your stores when you are deficient, having a beneficial flow on effect to TMJ by helping to decrease pain levels, improve feelings of well-being and strengthen bones and joints.
While most people would know this bright yellow spice as a delicious ingredient of Indian curries, this flavorful relative of ginger is actually a powerful anti-inflammatory agent, with a history that spans thousands of years in Ayurveda and is starting to get well-deserved attention in conventional medicine.
In a 2007 study, the powerful anti-inflammatory ingredient in turmeric, curcumin, was found to significantly improve pain, swelling and inflammation, with no harmful side effects.
Curcumin selectively blocks the enzymes that contribute to those painful symptoms, and has shown itself to be an effective anti-inflammatory agent that assists in joint pain.
Turmeric has a number of other impressive health benefits as well, including fighting infections and cancer, and soothing digestive complaints.
Turmeric's also available in supplement form (click here).
Calcium and Magnesium
While actually two different minerals, when it comes to helping with TMJ, these two work together to relax muscles and provide relief from pain and tension.
Calcium is well known for its role in bone strength and health, and it’s true that 99% of the body’s calcium is stored in the bones and teeth. But the other 1% plays a very significant role in nerve signalling and muscle function that can’t be overlooked.
Adequate magnesium is needed for good muscle function and it’s commonly accepted that a magnesium deficiency can cause painful muscle spasms and cramping.
Calcium and magnesium supplementation can help relax the jaw muscles involved in TMJ and provide relief from the tension and pain associated with this. These minerals are especially important to supplement if you are deficient.
If you have TMJ it’s important to get tested for the levels of these important minerals in the body, to fully optimize your recovery.
Humble vitamin C is better known for its role in staving off colds and flu, but it actually has a vital function in producing collagen in the body. Collagen helps to produce cartilage, a vital component of joints that allows range of motion, and proper functioning.
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant, preventing cell damage and free radicals which may contribute to easing pain and inflammation.
This essential vitamin can also be depleted in times of stress, which may be a contributing factor to TMJ.
With the damage that can be caused to the vital cartilage in your jaw when you are suffering from TMJ, vitamin C can be a useful supplement to include in your healing process.
Glucosamine is one of the best supplements for joint health, as it helps to rebuild cartilage and improve the range of motion in the joint, along with good joint lubrication for painless, smooth movements.
Often combined with another joint helper, Chondroitin, these two form a powerful pain fighting duo when it comes to helping with TMJ.
In a scientific study, glucosamine was found to reduce pain in daily activities of life even more significantly than ibuprofen, a common anti-inflammatory drug.
In addition, by promoting smoother joint movement, glucosamine can also help with the jaw ‘clicking’ associated with TMJ.
By improving the joint function and movement glucosamine and chondroitin reduce pain, swelling and inflammation associated with TMJ for better quality of life and ease in daily tasks.
The B group complex are actually a large group of 8 vitamins, including B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, B12 – that are usually grouped together in supplements and often occur together in food sources.
B group complex vitamins are essential for helping our bodies unlock the fuel from our food, to provide us with energy and the ability to cope with our daily tasks.
A deficiency in any of the B vitamins can cause fatigue and promote stress, worsening the effects of TMJ.
In a vicious cycle, high stress levels also deplete the B vitamins faster, meaning our requirement is higher in times of stress.
Because TMJ can be caused by stress, and it can cause further stress once affecting us, it’s important to think about B complex vitamin supplementation when affected by TMJ.
Supplementation with a good B vitamin complex can ensure adequacy, prevent deficiency and help you control stress levels for a happier, healthier life.
With this guide to the 7 best supplements for TMJ, you can produce better outcomes and quality of life while you heal your TMJ.
Remember to consult your doctor before starting any new supplementation for your best health and well-being.