Categories
Arthritis Joint Pain

How to Reduce the Pain from Arthritis with Glucosamine

Glucosamine is the most popular supplement for joint support and it’s also well established to be an effective treatment for joint-related conditions such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.  There is an ongoing debate, however, about which form of glucosamine works better and is more efficient – sulphate or hydrochloride.

It should be stressed that the active ingredient in any glucosamine product is only the glucosamine element, and that the hydrochloride or sulphate acid salt is purely a delivery vehicle.  Therefore, the amount of glucosamine present in 1500 mg of glucosamine salt will depend on the amount of ‘vehicle’ present and whether additional salts are included in the supplement. In short, the benefits delivered by a product will depend on its purity and stability, and this is where the two salts differ.

The simple answer is that they both fare equally in their actions; the majority of early trials and studies have primarily used glucosamine in its sulphate form, rather than hydrochloride, purely because of availability at the time.  Not surprisingly, much of the data has rested on the actions of glucosamine sulphate.  Only more recently has glucosamine hydrochloride been able to stand its ground and the results from several well conducted trials demonstrate that hydrochloride is as efficient as the sulphate form (Houpt et al, 1999; Qiu et al, 2005; Zang et al, 2007)

The hydrochloride form of glucosamine is more concentrated than sulphate and contains substantially less sodium per effective dose. Glucosamine sulphate is stabilised with sodium chloride – more commonly known as table salt – and can contain as much as 30% sodium. Given that we are advised to reduce our salt intake, this is a consideration for individuals who want or need to reduce their dietary intake of sodium.

The content of other salts will also affect the dosage needed to achieve the relevant amount of glucosamine.  For example, given that the upper limit of glucosamine is set at 1.5 g per day, you would need to consume around 2g of glucosamine sulphate to equal the benefits of 1.5g of glucosamine hydrochloride.This is because glucosamine hydrochloride is naturally stable and requires no added salt or other preservatives.  Simply put, glucosamine hydrochloride provides the same benefits as that of glucosamine sulphate but because of stability and purity it is actually more efficient and better value in the sense that it delivers the actual amount of glucosamine as stated on the product label.

Additional nutrients that support joint health

Glucosamine has certainly been in the limelight when it comes to joint health, and we now know why glucosamine hydrochloride may be the preferred form; however, we must not forget the other ingredients for a beneficial joint supplement regime. For healthy sprung lubricated joints, there is much more than taking a glucosamine supplement alone, so read on to be aware of the most important vitamins and minerals which target joint integrity.

It may be inevitable that our joints are going to wear out to a certain extent as we age, leading to inflammation and pain in some individuals in the form of arthritis, but fortunately specific nutrition can provide joint relief by protecting cartilage (which covers the bone surfaces), reducing inflammation and replenishing surrounding joint tissues.

Whether you simply want to protect your joints against possible future damage due to high activity levels or a genetic risk, or if you already have arthritis or some form of joint damage, optimizing your nutritional status specific to joint health may be beneficial for you. The following nutritional advice is everything you need to regulate inflammation, and to ensure adequate nutrient supply to support healthy synovial fluid, cartilage, collagen, bone density and other joint tissues.

As arthritis is an inflammatory condition and as inflammation is also involved in joint damage, the key in reducing symptoms of joint discomfort is to first reduce this inflammatory response. Keeping inflammation under control will enable joint damage to be kept to a minimum, and will allow the body’s natural healing process to function properly.

Omega-3 EPA is the active ingredient found in fish oil which supports anti-inflammatory processes in the body. Eating oily fish is, therefore, one of the top nutritional tips for reducing inflammation in your joints. Not only is fish consumption much lower than the recommended levels, the dose of omega-3 EPA acquired from eating fish may not be optimal, as toxin levels in fish (e.g. methyl mercury, PCBs and dioxins) means we are unable to safely eat large enough quantities. To ramp up your anti-inflammatory EPA levels, high dose EPA can be taken from concentrated fatty acid supplements. Standard fish oil contains only 18% of the active ingredient EPA, whereas fish oil supplements can concentrate the EPA to up to 90%, allowing a high dose of EPA to have a powerful beneficial effect on pain and inflammation in joints.

EPA is able to reduce inflammation by converting into hormone-like substances called prostaglandins which hinder inflammatory effects. The opposite effect is produced when consuming omega-6 arachidonic acid (AA) (mostly found in grain fed meats), therefore some omega-6 fats can actually increase inflammation in the body. EPA from fish displaces AA in the cell membranes, therefore supplementing with EPA can also help to reduce your inflammatory fatty acids, explaining why the anti-inflammatory effects of omega-3 EPA are so powerful. Interestingly, there is one type of omega-6 fatty acid called GLA (gamma linolenic acid) which, alongside EPA, actually enhances the anti-inflammatory effects. Omega-6 GLA is found in evening primrose oil, therefore a supplement combining concentrated omega-3 EPA from fish oil and omega-6 GLA from evening primrose oil is the most effective way of controlling the body’s inflammatory response.

Glucosamine – how it works

Back to the important topic of glucosamine: this should always be included in a joint supplement, especially for anyone doing regular impact training, or for anyone with arthritis.

Glucosamine is a natural substance made in the body and makes up compounds called proteoglycans and glycosaminoglycans. Cartilage is made up of these compounds, therefore they are required to cover and protect bones in the joints, providing lubrication and shock absorption. Glucosamine also prevents deterioration of joints and supports other joint structures including tendons, ligaments, and discs.

Glucosamine intake, therefore, may offer protection as we age, as glucosamine production is reduced with age, and needs are also increased during high levels of activity. Supplementing with glucosamine has been shown in review studies to reduce pain, improve mobility and preserve joint integrity.

Combining glucosamine with omega-3 EPA allows the glucosamine to provide these beneficial results, whilst also offering an anti-inflammatory state in the joint to further speed up the positive effects of pain reduction and prevention of further damage.

If you want to take your joint health to the next level by optimizing vitamins and mineral levels required for bone health, calcium, magnesium and vitamin D are at the top of this health list.

Calcium is well known for its role in bone structure, and low levels of calcium can increase the risk of developing osteoporosis. Calcium does not, however, act on its own to support bone density; calcium works simultaneously with magnesium and vitamin D to achieve optimum bone health. Vitamin D supports the absorption of calcium, and magnesium works synergistically with calcium to provide the joint structure. With a deficiency of any of these vitamins or minerals, joint health may be compromised and arthritis may consequently progress faster.

Vitamin C and zinc

Powerful antioxidants, vitamin C and zinc help to protect joints from damage by ‘mopping up’ free radicals. Free radicals are produced in the body as a result of pollution and other stressors such as refined foods containing pesticides. Low levels of free radicals are fine for our health, although high levels, frequently a result of our modern lifestyles, can cause excessive damage to joint tissues over time. Vitamin C is also used in the production of collagen, which provides a structure of connective tissues to hold joints in position. Zinc is also required for growth and repair of tissues surrounding the joints and also supports the function of enzymes required to build bone matrix.

References

Houpt JB, McMillan R, Wein C, Paget-Dellio SD.  Effect of glucosamine hydrochloride in the treatment of pain of osteoarthritis of the knee. J Rheumatol. 1999 26:2423-30.

Qiu GX, Weng XS, Zhang K, Zhou YX, Lou SQ, Wang YP, Li W, Zhang H, Liu Y. A multi-central, randomized, controlled clinical trial of glucosamine hydrochloride/sulfate in the treatment of knee osteoarthritis Zhonghua Yi Xue Za Zhi. 2005 85:3067-70. Chinese.

Zhang WB, Zhuang CY, Li JM, Yang ZP, Chen XL. Efficacy and safety evaluation of glucosamine hydrochloride in the treatment of osteoarthritis  Zhonghua Wai Ke Za Zhi. 2007 45:998-1001.

Categories
Joint Pain

What is Glucosamine & Chondroitin?

Glucosamine and chondroitin are popular natural treatments for joint pain. They are frequently sold together as a single joint health supplement; however, they are two different substances. Both have an effect on the cartilage in the body’s joints, but in different ways. While you can take the two supplements separately, there is a growing amount of research that suggests they may be best when used together.

Glucosamine

Glucosamine is found naturally in the body, particularly in the cartilage: it is one of the building blocks of cartilage and is also found in the fluid that lubricates the body’s joints. Glucosamine’s job in the body is to generate cartilage production and repair. It can also be manufactured and sold in supplement form — this type of glucosamine often comes from animal cartilage. There are several varieties of over the counter glucosamine, including glucosamine sulfate, glucosamine hydrochloride and n-acyl glucosamine. Many people take glucosamine for joint health, often in combination with the related supplement chondroitin.

Chondroitin

Chondroitin is a similar substance that is also found naturally in the body’s joints. Like glucosamine, it plays a role in maintaining joint health. Chondroitin is important for cartilage production, which keeps the surfaces of the joints moving smoothly as they rub together. It also helps the cartilage absorb fluid, which is vital for cartilage health and may prevent some destructive enzymes from breaking cartilage down. Chondroitin is generally available as chondroitin sulfate. Over-the-counter chondroitin also comes from animal sources. Chondroitin is often combined with glucosamine, though it can be purchased on its own in supplement form.

 

Uses for Each

Both glucosamine and chondroitin play important roles in joint health. Combined, they are some of the more common supplements taken by people with arthritis. However, separately they are also being researched for their roles in controlling the symptoms of other chronic diseases. For instance, chondroitin may help with the treatment of bladder infections. Glucosamine may also reduce some of the symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Research for these other uses of glucosamine and chondroitin are preliminary but do show potential.

Team Effort

Both glucosamine and chondroitin impact the body’s cartilage and joint fluids, though their effects vary slightly. This may explain why they are often marketed together as a single supplement. Research reviewed by the University of Maryland Medical Center suggests that glucosamine and chondroitin work best for arthritis treatment when used as a team.

Categories
Arthritis Diet Healthy Cooking Joint Pain

7 Natural Spices for Rheumatoid Arthritis Pain Relief

For thousands of years, cultures from around the world have been successful in reducing joint pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis through the use of natural spices and herbs and although it is safe to say that no one spice is going to cure your arthritis or joint pain, part of a successful treatment plan is to focus on a full spectrum of treatments as each on their own may not lead to significantly measurable results – but together they combine to reduce the problem.

Ginger

Gingerol is the compound in ginger that gives it flavor and some of its anti-inflammatory properties. Elements in ginger were found to reduce the action of T cells, immune cells that can add to systemic inflammation, in an analysis published in the July 2015 issue of Phytotherapy Research.

Try stir-frying with ginger or eating fresh pickled ginger. Galina Roofener, a licensed acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist at the Cleveland Clinic, agrees that ginger can be a beneficial part of your plan to control arthritis symptoms and recommends working with a trained herbalist.

Turmeric

Animal studies have shown that essential oils of turmeric have anti-arthritis properties. In a review published in January 2013 in The AAPS Journal of curcumin, the active ingredient that gives turmeric its yellow color, researchers at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center found that this natural remedy may have antibacterial and anti-cancer properties, as well as anti-inflammatory properties that could help with rheumatoid arthritis.

“Both turmeric and curcumin, two parts of the same plant, have very strong anti-inflammatory activity and can be used for the treatment of inflammation, especially joints,” Roofener says. But she cautions that turmeric is also a blood thinner and should be avoided in large doses if you take a blood-thinning medicine.

Green Tea

Green tea contains polyphenols, says Dr. Jonas, which could aid in reducing inflammation and protecting joints, according to research published in December 2014 in Arthritis Research & Therapy. Evidence from animal studies suggests that polyphenols, which are rich in antioxidants, may suppress the immune response. That could be important because rheumatoid arthritis is a disease in which the dysregulation of the immune system leads to inflammation in the joints, causing pain and swelling, Jonas says.

Cinnamon

In China and India, cinnamon bark is used to make natural remedies such as medicinal powders and teas. “Cinnamon may have some properties that fight inflammation,” Roofener says. “Cinnamon is a hot herb. It’s very useful for aches and pains, especially when they are worse with cold or cold weather.” Researchers who published an analysis of the phytochemicals in cinnamon that help reduce inflammation theorized that cinnamon could be used for inflammation if the right concentration is determined. The findings were published in Food & Function in March 2015.

“Although fine on your cinnamon bun, if it’s overdosed, it might not be safe for pregnant women,” Roofener warns. Larger doses of the spice could interfere with blood clotting and blood thinner medications. For RA inflammation, cinnamon may be a good option, but in moderation. Powdered cinnamon can be added to oatmeal or even oranges for a delicious and healthy dessert.

Garlic

Fresh garlic can liven up any dish and may help ease rheumatoid arthritis pain. A study published in August 2013 in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology noted that garlic has significant anti-inflammatory effects because it inhibits the production of pro-inflammatory substances known as cytokines. But the study found that heating garlic extract significantly reduced its anti-inflammatory properties.

Garlic can be added to many types of foods, including roasted vegetables, stir-fries, and sandwich spreads.

Black Pepper

Peppers are widely used to fight pain and swelling in traditional natural remedies. For instance, capsaicin, the substance that gives hot peppers their heat, is used in gels and creams as an arthritis treatment, according to the Arthritis Foundation. Research published in August 2010 in the journal Natural Product Communications found that many of the anti-inflammatory properties found in capsaicin are also found in black pepper.

Willow Bark

Willow bark has been shown to help reduce markers of inflammation, according to research published in April 2013 in Phytotherapy Research. When researchers gave a willow bark extract to 436 people with rheumatic pain or back pain for three weeks, they saw a significant reduction in pain, according to a report in the August 2013 issue of Phytomedicine.

One Last Word

Adding herbs and spices to your diet for their anti-inflammatory properties is typically very safe as long as you haven’t had any type of allergic reaction in the past.  It should be also pointed out that some spices should not be taken if you are pregnant.

If you are taking natural spices or herbs for treatment purposes, it’s always a good idea to put a space of at least two hours in between taking them and your Doctor prescribed medications.

Categories
Arthritis Joint Pain

The 10 Dietary Causes of Joint Inflammation

As we continue our battle against chronic joint pain, we’ve learned through our studies that ongoing pain is in many cases caused by inflammation in the body as a result of a complete imbalance in our bodies which is fundamentally caused by a poor diet. Everything from MSG to grains can be having a significant effect on your body.

When we isolate joint pain to a patient’s diet, we often see many common denominators in their diet. In this video, we discuss the top ten causes of joint inflammation.

Categories
Cancer Natural Treatments

How to Treat Join Pain without Dangerous Prescription Drugs

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If you are like most Americans that are suffering from ongoing ( chronic ) joint pain, you’re likely concerned about the potentially harmful side effects of the prescription drugs that many doctors are using to treat the problem.   These include drugs like as Humira or Celebrex for the treatment of joint pain.

Drugs like Celebrex are part of the same drug family as Vioxx which was withdrawn from the market over 10 years ago after research showed these types of drugs significantly increased the chance of fatal heart attacks as well as major strokes.

For many suffering chronic joint pain, the fear of dying from the treatment of their condition due to a drug prescribed by their doctor is of a serious concern and with good reason.  More than a quarter of all adult Americans (1) report having experienced ongoing joint pain.     Chronic joint pain is typically described as joint pain lasting more than a day at least once per month in consecutive months each year.

Things, like walking, golfing, working in the garden or playing with your grandchildren, start to become difficult or impossible.

As mobility is reduced, the natural result is unhealthy weight gain which leads to stress on all of your body including your heart, blood pressure levels, increased risk of diabetes and a general reduction in overall energy.

It’s these reasons that people in all walks of life turn to potentially harmful solutions like Celebrex which has a side effect warning list a mile long ranging from rashes to massive internal bleeding leading to sudden death.

Drugs like Celebrex work by reducing the hormones that cause inflammation and pain in the body but unfortunately does very little to cure or at least reduce the reason the joint pain is happening in the first place.

This is an excellent example of how Western Medicine focuses on treating the symptoms and not the causes of a health problem.  In the case of chronic joint pain, rebuilding the cartilage between bone joints is the real solution to long lasting relief.

From my perspective, chronic joint pain sufferers should focus on treating the cause of the pain and not simply try to mask the conditions that cause it. In the majority of joint pain cases, the issue is caused by the breaking down of the cartilage in the patient’s bone joints which results in painful, inflamed nerves, or in extreme cases –  the actual bones rubbing on each other and causing severe pain.

A Treatment Plan for Chronic Joint Pain that Doesn’t Rely on Drugs

I firmly believe that patients should focus on a long term joint pain reduction treatment plan based on common sense.

This of course includes things like keeping excess weight off and staying as active as possible – but once the human body begins to experience joint pain, these will only help keep the pain in check and do nothing to deal with what is causing the pain which as I mentioned is the breakdown of cartilage.

My focus of this article is to provide you with an effective game plan for treating your own joint pain that doesn’t have to involve potentially dangerous prescription drugs.  Like many medical conditions, the right form of treatment is not always the pharmaceutical based choice.

I would add though that I am not one of those people that are anti-pharmaceutical as many prescription drugs can be life savers.    In the same sense – neither am I someone who believes natural treatments are phony and don’t work as there is massive evidence to show otherwise. Balance is the key to any discussion regarding your health.

As a patient experiencing any medical or health problem – if your medical condition is not life-threatening and does not require the risk of a potentially dangerous prescription drug – then beginning your treatment plan using safe low-risk natural method makes the most logical sense and is far easier on your organs and body in general.

As a society, we have become addicted to quick fixes and miracle cures of which there is rarely any. In the case of natural treatment plans – the results are often slower to appear than with prescription drug based treatments and is why those looking for an immediate fix give up on the natural method before it really has a chance to take affect.

For example, we know that the use of glucosamine is an excellent way to provide assistance to your body to help treat conditions like arthritis and in particular joint pain – but takes long term use to see real results. We also know from several studies that when glucosamine is combined with something called Chondroitin Sulphate that is can be as effective as taking the potentially dangerous Celebrex – but has no measurable side effects or risks (2) ( unless you are allergic to shellfish)

The US Government on their website at https://medlineplus.gov lists Chondroitin as being a viable treatment for osteoarthritis as well as urinary infections and cataracts. (3)

The reason researchers believe this combination works because the glucosamine and the chondroitin help the body actually rebuild the cartilage instead of simply masking the pain as the majority of popular joint pain/arthritis drugs do.  We put together a more in-depth article on this dietary supplement here.

The Miracle of Water

Another very important aspect of joint pain treatment is water both consumed in what you drink – but also what through therapeutic soaking of your body on a daily basis.   A personal spa or hot tub will provide you with a significant amount of relief from aching joints and because the water is always ready and kept hot, it is far easier to enjoy than having to run yourself a bath each time you want to soak your sore body ( not to mention uses a lot less water ).   With the growing popularity of inflatable hot tubs, it is well within even the tightest budget to have a home hot tub for therapeutic use.   Amazon features inflatable units that plug into a standard outlet for under $400 ( Amazon Hot Tubs Page )

I also highly recommend on a regular basis soaking in a warm bath of Epson salts. Epsom salt contains magnesium sulfate which sounds kind of scary, but it’s really quite a wonderful substance. A naturally occurring mineral, magnesium sulfate has been used to get relief from pain for years, namely because of its high levels of magnesium.

Magnesium is something our bodies need, but we can’t produce ourselves. It is used in over 300 different biomechanical responses in our body. It relaxes all our muscles and nerve endings, relieving stiffness and pain. It is even part of what makes our heart beat. Not only does it relax muscles and ease the pain (this goes for arthritis pain too) it helps bones to mineralize. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition conducted one of many studies on magnesium that showed people who had a diet high in magnesium/took supplements had higher bone density and overall stronger bones. There are several ways to get more magnesium and utilize it for arthritis in particular.

Reducing Internal Inflammation

Many people have a limited view of what body inflammation is and simply assume it’s the visible inflammation such as swollen ankles or when you’re cheek is swollen after a tooth extraction or infection.   In reducing your own pain from arthritis or joint inflammation, you can make significant inroads by taking steps to reduce your pain by reducing the amount of internal swelling that is taking place in your body ( without you likely even realizing it ).

Suggested Related Reading…

The 10 Causes of Joint Inflammation  – the 10 main causes of joint pain and internal inflammation and what do to about it [ video ]

Reducing your internal inflammation is critical to also reducing joint pain on a permanent basis and the good news is that can be achieved through healthy eating and working to keep your organs running efficiently through a smart management plan for their health.

Adding a Herb and Spice Element to Your Diet

Thanks to the many ancient cultures from around the world, we know that spices such as ginger, green tea, garlic, black pepper, and cinnamon can help reduce the symptoms associated with joint pain.   These are all common, readily available and should be added to your diet as they all have exceptional health benefits that reach far beyond just joint pain issues.

We put together an article on the Top 7 Spices and Herbs for Joint Pain Relief here.

7 Natural Spices for Rheumatoid Arthritis Pain Relief

 

 

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Reference
(1)Bolen J, Helmick CG, et al. Prevalence of self-reported arthritis or chronic joint symptoms among adults – United States, 2001. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (CDC) 2002:51(42), pp. 948-950.

(2) https://nccih.nih.gov/research/results/gait/qa.htm

(3) https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/natural/744.html

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