Arthritis affects more than 70 million Americans. Arthritis is a disease that results in inflammation, pain and stiffness, primarily in the joints and connective tissues. Our joints can become inflamed because of trauma, disease, infection or merely wear and tear. When joints become arthritic, you will most likely experience pain, swelling, and limited movement. Over time, the cartilage may breaks down, the bone erodes and the joints become misshapen.
Osteoarthritis: is the most common form of degenerative joint disease that affects about 18 million Americans.Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage wears down, which causes bone to rub against bone.This result in misalignment and misshape of the joint, the ends of the bones thicken and form spurs, and bits of cartilage or bone may float within the joint space. Osteoarthritis affects mainly the hip, knee, hand and spine.
Rheumatoid Arthritis: affects approximately 2 million Americans. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease, in which the body's immune system attack itself causing inflammation of the synovial membrane. This chronic inflammation restricts movement and causes considerable pain, stiffness, warmth, redness and swelling at the joints. Rheumatoid arthritis may also spread and cause inflammation in eyes, lungs and heart.
Gout: affects nearly 6 million Americans, particularly men older than 40. Gout occurs when there is excess uric acid, one of the body's waste products, causing crystals to accumulate around the small joints. Joint that seems perfectly normal suddenly becomes explosively painful, red and swollen. The discomfort may last for days, but within a week or two, the joint will return to normal. If left untreated, repeated attacks of gout can result in permanent damage and disfigurement to the joint.
Lupus is a rare, chronic connective tissue disorder that typically affects women between the ages of 15 and 35. Lupus is an autoimmune disease that attacks the synovial membrane of the joints, causing inflammation, pain and, over time, damage to the joints and connective tissue. Lupus may also affect other parts of the body including inflammation of the lining of the lungs and heart, anemia, cause skin rashes, fever, fatigue, hair loss, seizures, ulcers, and kidney disease.
Glucosamine is the fundamental molecular building block of the macromolecules that attract and hold water in cartilage. Your body makes glucosamine, but under many conditions – including injury and aging –it cannot make enough. Supplemental glucosamine has been shown in studies to support the body’s production of healthy cartilage. Glucosamine and MSM are important structural building blocks that are necessary to help maintain the integrity of joints and connective tissue.
Glucosamine is an amino sugar: a molecule made from an amino acid and a simple sugar. Our bodies use approximately 10 amino sugars. They are burned for energy and are essential to the manufacture of tissue components. Amino sugars are the basis of virtually all connective tissues and lubricating fluids in the body. Just as amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, amino sugars are the building blocks of giant molecules called glycosaminoglycans (GAGs), also known as proteoglycans and mucopolysaccharides. GAGs are large, spongy, water-holding molecules that form the gel-like matrix of the body’s “ground substance,” the glue that holds us together. GAG’s in turn form proteoglycans, which hold and bind the water that is so important to lubricate joints, disperse stress and nourish joint tissue. This substance is found in all connective tissue and mucous membranes. Glucosamine macromolecules are the basic substrate of cartilage, ligaments, tendons, and bones.
Your Body Needs to Make Glucosamine During the course of normal wear-and tear on the body, connective tissue is constantly broken down, and then replaced or restructured, creating a continuous demand for glucosamine. Since dietary glucosamine is usually low, the body must synthesize it from glucose and the amino acid glutamine. Under normal circumstances, the body is able to meet its needs for glucosamine synthesis, but under a variety of less-than-optimal conditions, production of glucosamine – and its assembly into larger GAGs – may be impaired. These conditions include severe stress, surgery, burns, major injuries, as well as aging. Numerous studies have demonstrated positive results using 1,500 mg of glucosamine sulfate (the amount in one daily use).
In one study of 80 adults, both range of joint movement and comfort increased for the group taking glucosamine supplements, as compared to those only given a placebo. The cartilage samples of the glucosamine group were viewed under an electron microscope; though previously damaged, they now appeared rebuilt and healthy. In another study, more than 1200 adults were given 1500 mg of glucosamine for five to nine weeks. Ninety-five percent of them demonstrated a “sufficient” or “good” clinical response. Furthermore, the positive results continued for up to three months after supplementation stopped.
Chondroitin sulfate’s main role is in keeping cartilage fluid and elastic. It is found naturally in the body where it is one of the critical compounds that makes up connective tissue. Connective tissue is responsible for building and supporting cartilage found in the joints and elsewhere. Chondroitin sulfate is the most abundant GAG in the body. GAG’s in turn form proteoglycans, molecules that hold and bind the water that is so important to lubricate joints, disperse stress and provide nourishment to joint tissue. With aging, the water content of cartilage decreases, causing problems with the mobility of joints. Chondroitin may limit the effects of such degeneration. Chondroitin has been used to treat osteoarthritis. Studies suggest that chondroitin can enhance joint health and lower pain associated with the condition. Chondroitin may inhibit enzymes that cause inflammation and damage the joints. Recommended dosage for Chondroitin is 300mg- 600mg, 2 to 3 times a day.
MSM, or methylsulfonylmethane, a naturally occurring form of organic sulfur found in body fluids and tissue, cow’s milk, plants and most natural foods. MSM is an important source of dietary sulfur, which is vital to all tissues and needed constantly in an assimilable form. Sulfur may promote joint flexibility due to its role in supporting joint lubrication and movement. A double blind, placebo-controlled study evaluated the effects of 2,250 mg of MSM (the suggested daily use), with promising results. Because MSM can inhibit pain impulses, promote blood flow, and reduce inflammation of tissues. It has also been researched for use as a pain reliever and anti-inflammatory treatment. Research suggests that MSM may have a variety of benefits for people with all types of arthritis. Benefits can include the reduction, or even elimination, of pain in some cases. For osteoarthritis, studies suggest that MSM may inhibit the formation of scar tissue around joints and slow down degeneration of cartilage. Recommended dosage is 1,500mg daily for general maintenance; 3 grams daily for therapeutic applications.
Source: LS Kim et al., "Efficacy of Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) in Osteoarthritis Pain of the Knee: A Pilot Clinical Trial," Osteoarthritis and Cartilage 14 (March 2006): 286-294.
Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) may help lessen the pain and stiffness associated with osteoarthritis and improve physical functioning, according to the results of a new study published in the journal Osteoarthritis and Cartilage.
In a pilot trial, which was conducted by researchers from the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine & Health Sciences (Tempe, AZ), 50 volunteers with osteoarthritis of the knee took either 3 g of MSM or a placebo twice per day for three months. The researchers found that MSM generated significant decreases in pain and physical function impairment as measured by the WOMAC scale. Cardinal Nutrition ( Vancouver, WA) supplied the MSM used in the study.
Jeremy Appleton, author of MSM: The Definitive Guide and a member of Cardinal Nutrition's Scientific Advisory Board, noted that while knee osteoarthritis affects the lives of millions of Americans, safe and effective options for relieving pain and restoring mobility are limited. "The study results provide long-sought validation that MSM is a safe and effective option for people who want to improve their joint health.” Appleton said.
Hyaluronic acid is a component of synovial fluid, and is found in the vitreous humor of the eye, the synovia of joints, and in subcutaneous tissue where it functions is as a cementing agent. Hyaluronic acid is a glycosaminoglycan with anti-inflammatory and anti-edematous properties. Hyaluronic acid plays an integral role in maintaining and regulating moisture with the tissues and facilitates the transport of nutrients into the cells and the removal of metabolic waste. Hyaluronic acid is found in all of the body's tissue, with the highest concentrations located in the extracellular matrix of the skin and the synovial fluid that bathes the joints and cartilage. Optimum levels of hyaluronic acid are essential for the health of the joints and cartilage. Other benefits of HA include: Increased Mobility, Fibromyalgia Relief, Retinal Lubrication, Dry Skin Relief, Improved Vitality, Reduced Fine Lines, Tissue Reconstruction, Improved Bone Density. In osteoarthritis, changes occur in the hyaluronic acid found in cartilage leading to degradation of the cartilage. Hyaluronic acid has been investigated as a drug delivery agent for various routes of administration, including ophthalmic, nasal, pulmonary, parenteral and topical. In fact, regulatory approval in the USA, Canada and Europe was granted recently for 3% diclofenac in 2.5% Hyaluronic acid gel, Solaraze(R), for the topical treatment of actinic keratoses, which is the third most common skin complaint in the USA.
ParActin® is a patented extract of Andrographis Paniculata. Our research has shown ParActin® to naturally activate PPAR gamma, thereby inhibit NF kappa B, reduce pro-inflammatory cytokines such as Interleukin 2, Interferong, TNF a, and COX 2.
Human clinicals with ParActin had shown that ParActin® normalize Hematocrit, Hemoglobi, and C-Reactive Protein in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. In addition, ParActin® treatment significant decrease pain more than the NSAIDs group up to 2 weeks of treatment. ParActin® also significantly decrease the intensity of rigidity throughout the 15 weeks treatment period. These findings indicate that ParActin® maybe useful for reducing pain and improving rigidity in patients with early stage rheumatoid arthritis.
An Ayurvedic herbal combination of ashwagandha, boswellia serrata , and curcumin was evaluated in a randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled, cross-over study in patients with osteoarthritis. Treatment with this formulation produced a significant drop in severity of pain.
Osteoarthritis is a common, chronic, progressive, skeletal, degenerative disorder, which commonly affects the knee joint. Boswellia serrata tree is commonly found in India. The therapeutic value of its gum has been known. It possesses good anti-inflammatory, anti-arthritic and analgesic activity. A randomized double blind placebo controlled crossover study was conducted to assess the efficacy, safety and tolerability of Boswellia serrata extract in 30 patients of osteoarthritis of knee, 15 each receiving active drug or placebo for eight weeks. After the first intervention, washout was given and then the groups were crossed over to receive the opposite intervention for eight weeks. All patients receiving boswellia reported decrease in knee pain, increased knee flexion and increased walking distance. The frequency of swelling in the knee joint was decreased. Radiologically there was no change. The observed differences between drug treated and placebo being statistically significant, are clinically relevant. Boswellia serrata extract was well tolerated by the subjects except for minor gastrointestinal symptoms. Boswellia serrata extract is recommended in the patients of osteoarthritis of the knee with possible therapeutic use in other arthritis.
Curcumin is thought to be a powerful antinociceptive (pain-relieving) agent. In the November 2006 issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism, a study was published that showed the effectiveness of turmeric in the reduction of joint inflammation, and recommended clinical trials as a possible treatment for the alleviation of arthritis symptoms. It is thought to work as a natural inhibitor of the cox-2 enzyme, and has been shown effective in animal models for neuropathic pain secondary to diabetes, among others.
In vivoresearch with Turmeric extract showed the inhibition ofNF-kappaB and the subsequent expression of NF-kappaB-regulated genes mediating joint inflammation and destruction, including chemokines, cyclooxygenase 2, and RANKL. Consistent with these findings, inflammatory cell influx, joint levels of prostaglandin E(2), and periarticular osteoclast formation were inhibited by turmeric extract treatment, suggesting that turmeric maybe useful for supporting joint health. Existing evidence indicates that curcumin regulates LOX and COX-2 predominately at the transcriptional level.
Micronutrients such as Vitamins A, B-6 and C, zinc, manganese, and copper act as cofactors or parts of enzymes that play a role in connective tissue formation and maintenance and act as catalysts to support healthy connective tissue. For example, vitamin C and copper assist in the formation of collagen. Vitamin C is essential for the production and stability of collagen, the major protein in cartilage and connective tissue. It also protects cells from harmful free radicals.
Watch Your Weight: Population-based studies have consistently shown a link between obesity and challenges to joint health. Excess weight causes pressure on the joints, and can speed the rate at which joint cartilage wears down. A force of nearly three to six times one’s body weight is exerted on the knee joint while walking, so any weight gain increases the force by this multiple!
Eat Healthy: There are specific dietary guidelines believed by many doctors to support healthy joints. It is advisable to increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids from salmon, sardines, flax seeds or flax oil, and to keep your protein intake to 10 percent of daily caloric intake, replacing animal with plant proteins when possible. You should also eat lots of organically grown fruits and vegetables, eliminate polyunsaturated and hydrogenated oils, and eat ginger and turmeric regularly.
Exercise Regularly: According to Johns Hopkins’ joint health center, regular physical activity helps replenish lubrication to joint cartilage, strengthens the muscles around joints, and promotes healthy weight control. An exercise program geared to supporting joint health would include stretching, mild weight training, and low-impact aerobics.
Rest and Relaxation: Regularly scheduled rest helps prevent problems associated with over exercising, gives your body time to recover and allows you to make the most of your exercise program. Don’t overdo it—it’s important to recognize your body’s signals and know when to slow down.