Ankylosing Spondylitis Natural Treatments

Ankylosing Spondylitis Natural Treatments

Written by Dr. Rich Snyder

Ankylosing spondylitis is an inflammatory disease that affects the joints (called the sacroiliac joints) in the lower back in between the spine and pelvis.

It is an inflammatory arthritis that particularly affects younger people, predominantly males, between the ages of 20 and 40.

Therapies can include a change in diet, adding supplements and exercise. The following provides information on ankylosing spondylitis natural treatments.


What is ankylosing spondylitis?

Ankylosing spondylitis is an inflammatory disease that affects the joints (called the sacroiliac joints) in the lower back in between the spine and pelvis. These joints over time often become swollen and inflamed. One potential complication of this condition is that the spinal bones can fuse together.

How do I know if I may have ankylosing spondylitis?

This is a form of inflammatory arthritis that particularly affects younger people, predominantly males, between the ages of 20 and 40. Common symptoms include worsening lower back pain in the absence of trauma; others include stiffness, and decreased ability to bend forwards.

Are there any other health conditions associated with ankylosing spondylitis?

In addition to the spine, other organs of the body that can be affected by ankylosing spondylitis include the eyes, aorta, and the lungs. Remember that because this is an inflammatory condition, body areas other than just the spine can be involved.

How is this condition diagnosed?

In a young person, low back pain is often a self-limiting condition that gets better with conservative measures. In someone whose back pain still persists with some of the symptoms described above, it can and should be a red flag that further evaluation is needed.

What are some common medications used in the treatment of ankylosing spondylitis?

Many of the medications commonly prescribed in the treatment of ankylosing spondylitis work by suppressing the immune system.  They are often prescribed by a rheumatologist, who is a medical specialist trained in the evaluation and management of inflammatory conditions. Examples include:

Methotrexate: This medication is often given once a week and the dose is increased slowly.

There is a class of agents called biologic agents. One example is adalimumab (Humira). This medication inhibits a potent pro-inflammatory protein called Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF). This is an injection that strongly suppresses the immune system.


Your intestine is the one of the main keys to fighting and reducing total body inflammation. Forming a solid nutritional plan is vital: one of the best nutritional plans for fighting inflammation is the anti-inflammatory diet.

Anti-Inflammatory Diet

Foods can be a source of inflammation, especially for people with food sensitivities. Because the etiology of ankylosing spondylitis is not known, you want your nutrition plan to be as inflammatory free as possible. This is a diet similar to other diets, including the DASH diet and Mediterranean diet in that it has a focus on fruits and vegetables which in general are non-inflammatory.

Other Nutritional Recommendations:


Many of the supplements below help normalize immune function and bowel flora as well as reduce inflammation and pain.

Probiotics: These should be a mainstay in any inflammatory condition. They can normalize the bowel flora and replace the bad bacteria with good intestinal microflora. Studies specific to their benefits in ankylosing spondylitis have been mixed, but they do have an effect on immune system modulation and are often included in any anti-inflammatory regimen.

Omega 3 fish oil

A Western diet is high in Omega 6 and is pro-inflammatory. Changing your diet to reduce Omega 6 (which can be done with an anti-inflammatory diet) and supplementing with Omega 3 fish can help reduce inflammation and pain. In one study from 2006, the use of Omega 3 fish oil markedly showed a decrease in disease activity in patients with ankylosing spondylitis.

Wobenzyme N

This is an enzyme supplement that is used in the treatment of inflammation and pain. Enzymes in this supplement include bromelain (from pineapple) and papain (from papaya).


It is a great anti-oxidant that can reduce inflammation and pain. It can be taken as a 400 mg capsule daily or as a powder that can be sprinkled on each meal.

Tart cherry extract

Specifically Montmorency tart cherry extract is excellent for decreasing pain and inflammation.

Anti-inflammatory formulations

There are some good, natural pain formulations that contain many potent herbs that are great for reducing pain and inflammation in one capsule. Examples include curcumin (the main ingredient in Turmeric), Boswellia extract and Devils claw. Examples of these formulations include Arthrocin and Zyflamend.


Magnesium deficiency can promote inflammation and pain. For sore muscle and/or joints, the use of Magnesium gel or oil applied directly to the area can promote healing and reduce inflammation and increase joint and muscle mobility and flexibility.

Morinda citrifolia (Noni)

This is a tropical plant from East Asia that has been used for many years. It has anti-inflammatory properties and can help in the treatment of pain.


While physical activity and exercise can help in the treatment of ankylosing spondylitis, it does not mean that you will be able to tolerate any and all exercise regimens. Activities such as swimming and aqua-therapy, where there is not as much direct pressure placed on the back are preferred over running or jogging.

Updated: May 2013

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