Evolution in Joint Health

Recent progress in medical research has proven that some substances, when combined, can be of be of great help to people who suffer with joint stiffness, sports injuries and osteoarthritis. These substances not only alleviate the inflammation and pain, but also repair damaged cartilage. Finally some extra hints will be given to enhance effectiveness and reduce symptoms.

Information concerning joint structure

Articular cartilage is found in joints and promotes bone endings to slide smoothly and easily across each other. It comprises of 65-80% water and acts like a sponge. It soaks up synovial fluid when the joint is at rest, while squeezing the fluid out, when pressure is exerted. There are three major factors that determine joint health: water, proteoglycans and collagen. Water is imperative for the lubrication and nourishment of the joint.

Proteoglycans are woven into the collagen fibres and form dense netting inside cartilage. Their two primary roles are, firstly to make cartilage resilient so that it can bounce back when we move (suspension like), and secondly, to trap and absorb water when the joint is off pressure. Thus the cartilage can correspond to our movements and reduce stress without cracking under strain. Cartilage damage entails in collagen’s netting in losing its shape. Consequently, proteoglycans lose their grip and float away. The cartilage in this case is unable to trap water and absorb shock.  Inevitably, cracking, fissuring and wearing off, appears on the cartilage.

Collagen is present in various functions in the body. It enables cartilage elasticity, shock absorption and holds proteoglycans in place. New collagen and proteoglycans cells are produced by cells called chondrocytes. The latter, ensure that enough quantity of the previous two substances is achieved by disposing their old molecules. This is managed by releasing chewing enzymes. 

Glucosamine sulphate: it is found in oysters, crabs, shrimps. (be very careful if allergic to any of the sources) It is an amino acid sugar produced naturally in the body from glucose and glutamine. Cartilage, tendons and ligaments need Glucosamine in order to renew connective tissue in and around the joints.

Glucosamine stimulates chondrocytes to produce more collagen and proteoglycans. This causes more water to be trapped in the cartilage. It restores synovial fluid around joints and reduces inflammation it also contains the building blocks needed for the repair of joint cartilage. Glucosamine is necessary for the production of proteins called glucosaminoglycans (GAGS). These bind water into the cartilage matrix. Glucosamine normalizes metabolism which helps cartilage from breaking down. In this way it helps the body to repair damaged or eroded cartilage by enhancing the production of GAGS and proteoglycans.

Besides the fact that it is a substance found naturally in the body, larger quantities are required upon injury and/ aging. Furthermore, when injury to the connective tissue occurs, the body cannot replenish Glucosamine to allow optimal healing. Hence, a supplement is required.

As mentioned before, in osteoarthritis the bone endings degenerate, allowing so the bones to rub together causing pain. Glucosamine relieves pain and inflammation not only on those cases but also at sport(joint) injuries. Relieves back pain and joint stress. Increases healing/recovery period. People who put excessive stress on their joints such as martial artists, athletes, horseriders, and gardeners will benefit by taking Glucosamine as preventative.

The recommended dosage is 1500mg daily. Available forms vary from capsules, juices to gels.

Good news for vegetarians and vegans! There is s a “vegetarian form” of glucosamine (in many countries the forms bellow are not available). Being more precise this is D-Glucosamine Hydrochloride (HCL). Be very careful as some stores sell D-Glucosamine Hydrochloride as vegetarian despite the fact that the origin is chitin (some manufacturers use the term “Chitin” for ground up or crushed mollusc shells!- nothing but vegetarian).
There are two purely vegetarian forms of D-Glucosamine Hydrochloride (HCL).
*One originates from corn – manufactured in USA
*The other form comes from a fungus named Aspergillus niger.

Chondroitin sulphate : normally it is collected from cow’s trachea but also found in large fish cartilage(shark).
Chondroitin sulfate consists of repeating chains of molecules called glucosaminoglycans. Chondroitin helps to keep cartilage resilient by absorbing fluid (particularly water) into the connective tissue. It is a major constituent of cartilage, providing structure, holding water and nutrients, and allowing other molecules to move through cartilage—an important property, as there is no blood supply to cartilage.
It is also believed to block enzymes that break down cartilage and it provides the building blocks needed for cartilage to repair itself.
It is recommended 400mg twice a day or 800mg once a day per os (orally).
Chondroitin not only reduces pain and increases joint mobility, but also helps with the healing of joints with people with osteoarthritis especially when combined with Glucosamine sulphate.  The Gait-Guide study (Glucosamine/Chondroitin Arthritis Intervention Trial - Glucosamine Effectiveness -13 Universities - United States Study) has proven the use of both those as safe and effective. The study concluded: After five years of recruiting, testing and analyzing, this trial excitingly reports, “Combination glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate is effective in treating moderate to severe knee pain due to osteoarthritis.” Results could actually challenge the performance of conventional non steroid anti-inflammatory drugs.

MSM : Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) is a naturally occurring, organic, sulfur-containing compound which also helps with joint mobility and people who suffer from osteoarthritis. MSM has the additional benefit of being a constituent (Building block) of Keratin (Hair and Nails), Collagen (Skin) and Elastin (Giving flexibility to skin and internal membranes). Recent independent double-blind study by an Indian University found the combination of Glucosamine and MSM greatly superior to either agent used singularly.
A precursor of MSM is formed initially by ocean plankton and released into the atmosphere, where it interacts with ozone and sunlight and returns to earth as MSM in rainfall. MSM can be taken up by plants and incorporated into their structure, but no measurement of the MSM content of foods has been done. It has a much smaller, biologically active sulphur molecule than any of the Glucosamines. MSM has never been known to cause an allergic reaction so is very safe to take.
The only controlled trial using MSM used over 2000 mg per day to treat osteoarthritis. More research is needed before reliable recommendations for MSM supplementation can be made.
Again, it’s important to check the source, as most MSM is manufactured from petrochemical source i.e. a by-product from the production of oil and petrol!
Natural pine tree source MSM is highly bio-available according to radio-labelled studies.  Only one company currently manufactures MSM from natural Pine Tree Source, by distillation, in Canada.

Additional information

-Either of the mentioned supplements needs more than a month to start taking effect. Thus, experts tend to recommend antinflammatory/pain relieving herbs. The most popular are Devil’s Claw, Cat’s Claw and Sarsaparilla.
-Pinneaple bromelain ( do not take with anticoagulants) and ginger (beware if you have high blood pressure ) possess potent anti-inflammatory properties too.
-Increase intake of Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid) -it reduces morning stiffness and pain.
-Vitamin C- it is involved in collagen formation and it is also a strong antioxidant
-Manganese – important for the production of essential cartilage compounds. Nuts, beans, oatmeal and dry peaches are very rich in this mineral.
-DL-phenylalanine (DLPA) - pain reliever but if you have a metabolic disorder as Phenlyketonurics you will not be able to digest it.
-Selenium - a mineral with antioxidant properties that will reduce pain and inflammation- it is rich in seafood, tuna, (if you eat meat, liver), wheatgerm, bran, vegetables (especially onions and broccoli), tomatoes and nuts.
-Increase intake of omega-3 & 6 fatty acids - doing so you will increase joint mobility (flaxseed oil, starflower, evening primrose oil (not if you had epilepsy), and blackcurrant seed oil
-Aloe vera juice - helps repairing damaged tissue by regenerating cells.
-Antioxidants - CoQ10 is one of the strongest, also used in Parkinson’s disease -quite expensive though, try also pycnogenol and white tea.
Essential oils - try massage with rosemary, juniper, chamomile and ginger blended in grapeseed oil.
Try to reduce salt intake and avoid toxins.

Note:

Because of the potential for side effects and interactions with medications, dietary supplements should be taken only under the supervision of a knowledgeable healthcare provider.