osteoarthritis

  • Advice For Healthier Joints

    Arthritis is a real pain in the joints — and nearly 30 million Americans have to deal with it.

    Twenty-seven million of us deal with pain and stiffness from the wear-and-tear of osteoarthritis, where the cartilage that covers and cushions the ends of your bones becomes thin or disappears, and your bones rub together and hurt.

    Another 2.5 million endure the red, hot, swollen and painful joints of rheumatoid arthritis, which is an autoimmune disease that causes your immune system to mistakenly identify your cartilage and bones as foreign invaders (like viruses)— and attack them.

    Arthritis isn’t an “equal opportunity annoyer.” It picks on seniors (65 percent of people over 65 have osteoarthritis) and on women (seven out of ten people with rheumatoid arthritis). With so many folks afflicted, you’d think modern medicine would offer some good, safe solutions for arthritis pain. Think again.

    The most common class of pain-relieving drugs—nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)—hospitalizes more than 100,000 Americans a year from bleeding ulcers, and kills more than 16,500!

    Adding joint insult to digestive injury, NSAIDs don’t slow the progression of arthritis—and may even speed it up! The best advice? Take steps to optimize joint health, so you can minimize the chances of developing joint problems in the first place. And there are three easy ways to do just that.

    Joint-Optimizer #1: Feed Your Joints

    There are several nutrients and natural compounds that are uniquely effective for promoting healthy joints.

    Glucosamine Sulfate: Feeding Your Cartilage
    Glucosamine is a component of cartilage. When you take a glucosamine-containing supplement, the compound is incorporated into your cartilage molecules, which helps repair joints and reduce the pain that can result from overuse. I recommend the sulfate form (not glucosamine hydrochloride), because sulfate also promotes healthy joint function. The standard dose is 750 milligrams, two times daily, taken with or without food. After six months, you may find that you don’t need to take the supplement daily; at that point, you may choose to take it only when your joints feel like they need help.

    Chondroitin Sulfate: More Cartilage Support
    This compound also helps create, maintain and repair cartilage. One downside is that only 10 percent is absorbed. To improve absorption, use the “low molecular weight” form of chondroitin. (Look for those words on the label.) The standard dose is 400 mg three times daily, or 1,200 in a single dose.

    MSM: Sulfur, a Surprisingly Important Nutrient
    MSM is an abbreviation for methylsulfonylmethane, a sulfurcontaining compound that gives your proteins a key building block needed for tissue repair. Research show that MSM, chondroitin and glucosamine work well together. It is reasonable to take all three of these daily for the first six to twelve weeks after you begin the regimen. This will lay a solid nutritional foundation The best advice? Take steps to optimize joint health, so you can minimize the chances of developing joint problems in the first place from which you can begin to maintain healthy joint function. After that, you can scale back to a lower dose.

    For Nutritional Insurance, Take a Good General-Purpose Supplement
    Dozens of other nutrients are also helpful to promoting healthy joint function—like B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin E, boron and zinc.)

    Joint-Optimizer #2: Balance Immune Function

    Curcumin and boswellia are two herbs that are particularly good at promoting a healthy and balanced immune system.

    These can be found in a number of good herbal mixes. Both curcumin and boswellia are provided in the supplement Healthy Knees and Joints. Another excellent product that contains a highly absorbable form of curcumin is Curamin. Yet another herbal formula, End Pain, contains boswellia and willow bark (the herbal granddaddy of aspirin). The End Pain can be taken along with either the Curamin or Healthy Knees and Joints. Allow six weeks to see the full effect. You’ll be glad you did!

    Another powerful immune regulator is fish oil. You can eat fatty fish like salmon, sardines, trout or mackerel a few times a week, or take a fish oil supplement.

    Joint-Optimizer #3: Use Them or Lose Them

    If you want to maintain flexible, healthy joints, you need to use them the way nature intended. Namely, you need to MOVE them! I suggest exercising at least 20 minutes daily. Go for a walk outdoors (also great for boosting levels of vitamin D, which supports healthy muscles and joints). Swim or exercise in a heated pool (the buoyancy and warmth make this an ideal exercise for joints that need a helping hand). Yoga, tai chi or any other form of stretching are also good.

    Important: Pain is your body’s way of saying, “Don’t do that!” So if you feel unusual pain while exercising, STOP and DON’T try to push through it.

    Heat and Stretch
    A great way to improve flexibility: use a heating pad or any other kind of moist heat for five to fifteen minutes on an affected joint, then slowly and gently move the bothered joint, gradually reclaiming your full range of motion.

    For joints in your hands, try the herbal-filled “bean bags” you can heat up in the microwave, putting them on your hands. After five to fifteen minutes, gently stretch your fingers.

  • Celadrin for Pet Inflammation and Arthritis

    All pet owners know how terrible it feels when one of our beloved animals is sick or in pain. Unfortunately, osteoarthritis in domestic animals is a common condition. Over 20 percent of dogs over the age of one are suffering from this painful, debilitating condition. The causes of arthritis in pets are very similar to those in humans: poor nutrition, repetitive wear and tear on the joints and hereditary conditions associated with joint destruction. The family pet has also become the latest victim of inactivity and obesity. Overweight animals suffer greater bouts of osteoarthritis.

    Veterinarians very often prescribe NSAID medications. The most common side effect of NSAIDs in dogs is gastrointestinal toxicity, ranging from vomiting and diarrhea to a silent ulcer. Pet owners are leery of these drugs and they should be. There are far more contraindications for these drugs for animals than for humans. This has caused a shift to alternative therapies for the treatment of osteoarthritis in animals.

    A clinical trial using Celadrin for osteoarthritis in dogs was presented at the Experimental Biology convention in 2001. An independent veterinary clinic was enlisted to conduct a study involving 24 dogs between the ages of eight and 13 years. Before beginning the study, the dogs had a physical exam and blood and urine was taken for analysis. Both small and large dogs were included in the study regardless of their current arthritis medication. Daily, each dog was given dog chews containing Celadrin. A standard dose of two chews per 20 pounds was established. The dogs were assessed again 30 days later. Seventy-five percent of the dog owners noted improvement in stair climbing, gait and their pet’s daily life. The dogs seemed more energetic, happier and to have a better temperament. There were no changes in blood or urine analysis. a similar percentage of improvement in therapeutic effects. One week of treatment with a topical cream consisting of Celadrin and menthol was similarly effective for reducing pain and improving functional performance in individuals with arthritis of the knee, elbow, and wrist.

    Dr. Kraemer then performed another study that examined the effects of 30 days of treatment with Celadrin cream with no menthol on the ability to stand and move and pressure on the feet in patients with osteoarthritis (OA) of one or both knees. Forty patients diagnosed with knee OA were randomly assigned to receive Celadrin cream or placebo. Assessments included 20- and 40-second quiet standing on a force plate to measure center of pressure, and rear foot and forefoot plantar pressure distribution. This study showed that 30 days of treatment with Celadrin topical cream improved static postural stability in patients with knee OA, presumably due to pain relief during quiet standing. Celadrin is helpful in improving the exercise trainability of people with osteoarthritis.

    Celadrin is not only effective but also safe to take with your prescription medications as no drug-nutrient interactions have been found. Those using the oral form of Celadrin and the cream together have experienced a much faster improvement in pain, swelling and mobility than those using the cream alone.

    Effective Celadrin and Glucosamine Combination
    Glucosamine sulfate, a very popular joint-health supplement, works well in conjunction with Celadrin. Celadrin is effective at halting the joint-damaging process, while glucosamine can repair damage already done to those joints affected. Celadrin works by providing continuous lubrication and allowing the cell membrane to repel inflammatory messengers from the immune system. It also stops the cascade of inflammation and the assaults on the membrane, which cause stiffness. Celadrin helps glucosamine perform faster and more efficiently in building joint cartilage. The dual action of Celadrin and glucosamine will provide rapid joint cushioning, quickly alleviate inflammation, build cartilage and restore the entire joint area. Cartilage repair usually begins within two months. Spectacular results have been experienced by those individuals with rheumatoid arthritis who have adopted the combination treatment

    It is exciting when extensive double-blind, placebo controlled research is performed to confirm the effectiveness of a natural product. With the knowledge that inflammation can shorten our lifespan by promoting many degenerative diseases, it is essential that we use natural anti-inflammatories to reduce our risk. For more information go to www.celadrin.com.

  • Help Your Joints with Hyaluronic Acid

    In the past couple of years, oral forms of hyaluronic acid have become available. Oral HA is a nonprescription product that’s sold as a dietary supplement. The benefits of an oral formulation compared to injections are obvious: lower cost, no pain, lower risk, and improved convenience. The positive results for patients have vaulted this product into the limelight.


    The number one cause of disability in America isn’t heart disease or diabetes—it’s arthritis. According to statistics from the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC), one in three adults is now affected by an arthritis-related condition.

    Arthritis is a general term for a group of conditions that cause pain, stiffness, and swelling in the joints. The most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis, sometimes called “wear and tear” arthritis. Most people with arthritis have osteoarthritis— in fact, some 21 million American adults suffer from it.

    People with arthritis often face serious reductions in their quality of life. The pain, stiffness, and inflammation make it hard to stay active, but inactivity can lead to a downward spiral of worsening health. When activity levels drop, depression, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and problems with work and relationships often develop. And inactivity actually makes sore joints even worse, which just accelerates the downward spiral. For most people, life just isn’t as enjoyable with arthritis.

    New Treatment Options
    The good news is the high prevalence of arthritis has led to increased awareness and increased research efforts. The most exciting part about the new treatment options that are now becoming available is they don’t just relieve pain. They actually improve function while also being very safe. Unlike anti-inflammatories such as naproxen (Aleve), for example, treatments such as glucosamine and hyaluronic acid don’t cause gastric bleeding or ulcers, and they don’t raise your risk of a heart attack, stroke, or kidney disease.

    In the 1990s, hyaluronic acid (HA) became available as a treatment for knee osteoarthritis. For people with severe knee arthritis, injecting HA into the joint often provides relief. Injectable HA is a prescription product that has to be administered by a physician. Most patients need a series of three to five weekly injections. Injectable hyaluronic acid is well-established as a safe therapy for osteoarthritis. In fact, it’s part of the American College of Rheumatology guidelines for treating osteoarthritis of the knee. Injectable HA works reasonably well. After receiving the series of injections, over half of all patients have improvements in pain and function that can last for up to a year. Because injectable HA provides long-lasting relief, osteoarthritis patients can often avoid the dangers associated with over-the-counter or prescription anti-inflammatory drugs.

    Injectable HA has some significant drawbacks, however. Receiving an injection directly into the joint isn’t something to take lightly. It’s an invasive procedure that involves pain and a small chance of introducing an infection in the joint. It’s expensive—the series of injections can run to $1,500 and may not be covered by health insurance. It’s also inconvenient to keep going to the doctor for several weeks in a row to receive the full series of injection—or repeat injections, if necessary.

    In the past couple of years, oral forms of hyaluronic acid have become available. Oral HA is a nonprescription product that’s sold as a dietary supplement. The benefits of an oral formulation compared to injections are obvious: lower cost, no pain, lower risk, and improved convenience. The positive results for patients have vaulted this product into the limelight.

    Understanding HA
    To appreciate what a breakthrough oral HA is, it helps to understand the crucial role of HA in joint health. In your body, HA is a naturally occurring family of extremely large molecules that are contained in many tissues, not just the joints. HA is one of the components that give our tissues flexibility. Your eyeballs, for instance, are “squishy” mainly because of their high HA content. The same goes for the cartilage in your joints.

    Joint cartilage (what doctors call articular cartilage) is a glistening, smooth, translucent, whitish-colored living tissue found on the ends of your bones. Joint cartilage caps the ends of the bones in the 230 different joints found in the human body. When it’s healthy, cartilage is extremely smooth. It provides a low-friction environment for easy movement and also acts as a shock absorber to protect your bones and keep them from fracturing with activity.

    Hyaluronic acid is essential for healthy cartilage. It’s the chemical backbone that holds together the molecules, such as chondroitin sulfate, that make up the cartilage and give joint cartilage its special properties. HA is what makes joint cartilage the smoothest and most friction-free substance in nature. Nothing man-made can approach the performance of this remarkable tissue.

    In any joint, the whole structure of bone, cartilage, ligaments, and tendons is surrounded, held together, and protected by a watertight, fibrous joint capsule. Specialized cells called synoviocytes line the interior portion of the joint capsule. They produce the synovial fluid—a thick, clear substance that looks and feels like raw egg white. Synovial fluid fills the space within the joint. It lubricates the articular cartilage, much as grease lubricates the ball joints of your car. Synovial fluid also increases the effectiveness of shock absorption in the joint, much as hydraulic shock absorbers smooth out the ride of your car. Because joints don’t have a blood supply of their own, the synovial fluid also carries nutrients into the joint and carries waste products out.

    Osteoarthritis and HA
    Where does HA fit into joint health? It’s the principal functional component of synovial fluid. HA is what makes synovial fluid thick and viscous—and it’s these properties that are vital to normal joint function. But when osteoarthritis strikes, the hyaluronic acid in the joint is affected. Here’s how it happens: The joint cartilage on the ends of the bones slowly erodes, the bone underlying the cartilage changes (leading to bone spurs and pain), and the synovial fluid in the joint changes in character. Specifically, the amount of HA in the joint drops. In severe osteoarthritis, the level of hyaluronic acid in the joint fluid may decrease by 75 percent or more. Because HA serves as a shock absorber and lubricator, it’s no wonder that a big decrease in such an important molecule results in adverse consequences. When HA levels in the knee drop, for instance, the result is a creaking or grinding sensation, pain, and often a condition called “movie-goers knee.” It may sound funny, but movie-goers knee is no joke. It’s a real medical condition that occurs after someone with knee osteoarthritis sits with the knee bent at a sharp angle for a prolonged period of time—such as sitting through a feature movie or driving a car for a couple of hours. Upon arising, a sudden, sharp, stabbing pain occurs in the knee. The pain usually goes away after walking a few steps, as the remaining fluid in the knee coats the surfaces of the cartilage and cuts down on the friction.

    The prevailing theory of how HA works is that the molecules attach to binding sites on cells within the joints. Once the attachment is made, it triggers a complex cascade of events within the cells. One of the things that seems to happen is the HA molecules inhibit some of the enzymes that help break down the cartilage matrix in the joint. HA also seems to inhibit some of the natural chemicals, such as interleukin-1b and prostaglandin E2, that create inflammation in an arthritic joint. The anti-inflammatory mechanism of HA isn’t fully understood, but we do know it’s quite different from that of anti-inflammatory drugs. HA molecules also appear to disrupt some of the nerve impulses that transmit pain signals from the joint to the brain. Importantly, HA molecules can stimulate the cells that line the joint capsule and trigger them to manufacture even more hyaluronic acid—something highly desirable in osteoarthritic joints.

    When there’s not enough HA in a joint, all the things it does to maintain pain-free normal function don’t happen as well— that’s where supplemental HA comes in.

    Choosing the Best HA Supplement
    As researchers learn more about the HA pathways in the joints, they continue to discover new ways in which HA helps relieve pain and improve function in patients with osteoarthritis. One of the things they’ve learned is oral HA supplements can be very effective—but only if they’re a high-quality product that closely mimics the body’s own HA.

    Today the oral forms of hyaluronic acid sold as dietary supplements come from three general categories: low-purity animal extractions mixed with large quantities of (relatively inactive) collagen; fermentation from bacteria; or concentrated extraction from avian cartilage. The original pharmaceutical forms of injected hyaluronic acid were all derived from the avian cartilage, so it makes sense this is also the optimal form for dietary supplements. Low-purity animal extractions mixed with collagen are undesirable because of two reasons. To get an adequate quantity of hyaluronic acid from these supplements, you’d have to take them in very large amounts. Also, it’s questionable whether the biologic activity of this source of hyaluronic acid compares with the others.

    Hyaluronic acid derived from bacterial fermentation may also be less functional and it doesn’t have some of the natural active components found in the concentrated extractions from avian cartilage. Perhaps this helps explain the results of an internal study comparing the effectiveness of fermented HA to a concentrated extract from avian cartilage. When a culture of living synovial cells was exposed to the avian extract, the cells were stimulated to produce twice as much HA as when they were exposed to the bacterial HA—even though the concentrations of each product was the same (200 mcg/ml ).

    It’s also important to note that concentrated avian extracts have been used in most of the important worldwide research that has been done on HA. The concentrated extractions have been utilized extensively in the clinic and in large human studies (some of long duration) sponsored by the pharmaceutical industry.

    Hyal-Joint® Oral Hyaluronic Acid Supplements
    Hyal-Joint oral hyaluronic acid supplements appear to be the best available product. This product is a concentrated HA extraction from avian cartilage and also contains other naturally active components such as vital glycosaminoglycans. Hyal-Joint has been studied in a number of laboratory experiments, animal studies, and in a human clinical study. Even more research is underway. The studies suggest that Hyal-Joint raises HA levels in the joints and, just as important, also stimulates the body to produce more of its own natural HA. In the first human study, the participants took only 80 mg of Hyal-Joint a day, an amount that fits into a small capsule or tablet. This daily dosage delivers approximately 48 to 54 mg HA, 4 to 12 mg other glycosaminoglycans, and 16 to 24 mg collagen. A clinical trial is underway now using a smaller dose of just 40 mg, and some supplement manufacturers are considering adding 20 mg of Hyal-Joint to existing joint health formulations containing other active components such as glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate.