A practical guide for nutritional and traditional health care.
A commonly occurring condition that leads to a reduced mobility in a person due to the presence of pain in the joints is known as osteoarthritis, the condition comes about because the linings in the joints lose their normal structure with a resulting deleterious effect on their performance and movement. This condition can come about as a secondary manifestation of many other diseases but it is more commonly associated with injury and aging related disorders, it was commonly called the "wear-and-tear" arthritis an apt nickname as the cause of the condition is the weakening of joints over a lifetime. The cause or origin of the condition remains mysterious and unknown in the vast majority of cases of osteoarthritis.
Because of the physical consequences of excess weight in the body on the weight bearing joints, the chances of osteoarthritis are increased along with obesity and an obese individual is thus at a higher risk for the condition. As far as a reduction in the levels of pain is concerned, loss of excess weight is believed to be beneficial by experts on arthritis and exercising to achieve this goal may be one of the first ways to potentially deal with the condition.
Supplements and herbs
Glucosamine sulfate (GS) is an excellent supplement for the maintenance and restoration of cartilaginous tissue in the joints, as its active ingredient is a building block needed for joint cartilage, GS is derived from sea shells and is available as a nutrient supplement. In research done on people the various symptoms of osteoarthritis showed a reduction when GS was used on patients, these studies were single blind and uncontrolled researches with patients suffering from the symptoms of osteoarthritis. Significant levels of reduction of the symptoms were also reported in a vast number of double-blind studies carried out on other patients. The results are of the statistically important type and show GS in a promising light as far as osteoarthritis was concerned in all the reported or published medical researches. Dosage of the GS administered tended to utilize 500 mg of GS about thrice daily in all the trial studies. Prolonged treatment periods of 3 to 8 weeks showed the effectiveness of the GS treatment and this beneficial effect usually became evident only in the long term. To elicit any progressive improvement required persistent supplementation using GS as the supplement.
Chondroitin sulfate (CS) is another excellent supplement as far as osteoarthritis is concerned, the substance being an essential structural part of the substance that forms the lining of the joints in a person. Similar to GS in composition, it is akin or comparable to an attachment of several molecules of GS taken together as a unit. The need for the substance in the body further demonstrated by the fact that in the cartilage of the joints of people with osteoarthritis the levels of chondroitin sulfate showed a definite reduction and such people were helped through supplements utilizing this compound. This sulfate compound may thus be in a position to affect the restoration of function in the joints of osteoarthritic patients when taken as a supplement. It was commonly held by researchers that the absorption of this substance CS when ingested did not occur in the human body, so certain preliminary evidence suggested at first. Due to these injections of the substance has been the primary way in which the substance was administered to the patients, and moreover a research on the effects of CS done in a double-blind manner elicited a reduction in the symptoms of osteoarthritis in affected patients. This particular manner of administering the substance can now be given up as it has been conclusively shown that significant levels of CS can be absorbed through ingested forms of the substance, moreover, using water as a medium for CS is preferable to taking the pills directly as absorption rates are better when it is dissolved in water.
S-adenosyl methionine (SAMe) is also an excellent supplement in patients suffering from osteoarthritis, even when the reason it is so effective and its mode action still remains a mystery, it is however very apparent in its ability to heal damaged tissues in the joints and its consequent restorative properties. This substance also has pain relieving or analgesic properties along with an anti-inflammatory ability, when used in patients. It has been sufficiently and conclusively observed and research reports that SAMe minimizes pain and stiffness and promotes the restoration of healthy tissue in patients with osteoarthritis. In the double blind study done SAMe performed better than placebos and was equivalent in action to drugs like ibuprofen and naproxen in relieving the swelling and the symptoms due to osteoarthritis. The optimal and preferred dosage level for the substance was about 400 mg thrice a day, according to the research done on optimal dosage levels for the substance.
People suffering from osteoarthritis showed an improvement in their ability to move the joints and had greater strength in the muscles and also showed a minimization in symptoms such as fatigue when given supplements of the substance niacinamide, so researchers pointed out in studies conducted many years before. Recent studies have shown that symptoms were minimized in patients with osteoarthritis within a twelve week period, these studies were of the double blind variety intended to check the claims made by the preliminary trials done previously on the possible affects of niacinamide in relieving symptoms of osteoarthritis. With higher dosages specifically only for those with acute and advanced arthritis, the dosage amounts that nutritionally trained medical doctors suggest for the substance is about 250 mg of niacinamide four or more doses every day, it has to be remembered however that dosage regimens have tended to vary in different studies and groups of people and ideal doses may not be available as yet. It still remains a mystery as to how niacinamide brings about a minimization in the symptoms of osteoarthritis nor has its property or mode of action been verified.
When comparing patients who have deficient levels of antioxidant substances in their diet, patients who consume high levels of antioxidants in their diets food have been shown to display a low rate of deterioration in the joints, specifically with regard to vulnerable areas such as the joints in the knees. In controlled studies done on all type of antioxidants and their effects on osteoarthritis patients, only the role of the vitamin E has been fully investigated in treating symptoms. In both double and single blind researches osteoarthritis symptoms showed a lowering and reduction in people who were given the vitamin E as a supplement. Dosage levels for the vitamin were 400-600 IU of vitamin E administered to each patient every single day during the period of the study. A couple of weeks under this regimen showed significant results in the condition of the patients.
It has been suggested in some scientific circles that a deficiency of the mineral boron has a definite affect on arthritis in an individual and the levels of boron affect the metabolism of calcium in the body. It must also be mentioned that several other minerals are also deficient in the bones of people with osteoarthritis while it remains true that the levels of the mineral boron found in bones affected with osteoarthritic joints show lowered levels of boron compared to other bones in the body of patients. In studies done with placebos and boron, 6 mg of boron per day, administered over two months, helped reduce the symptoms of osteoarthritis in five out of ten people. Comparable improvements were seen in only one of ten people who were administered dosages of the placebos.
Because of their anti-inflammatory properties use of the substances EPA and DHA, the omega 3-fatty acids found abundantly in fish oil has been restricted to people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) the reason being that one of the symptoms of RA is extreme inflammation in the person. At the same time, inflammation is also one of the symptoms of osteoarthritis and must be relieved for the person to be able to regain full health. When compared in a study that also utilized placebos, the use of EPA reduced pain in the patients during the 24-week preliminary and controlled trial when its efficacy was compared to people administered the placebos. However as far as osteoarthritis patients are concerned other studies on the effectiveness of either EPA or DHA have as not been investigated in any depth so far.
In another study carried out using amino acids there was some minimization in the levels of chronic pain experienced by osteoarthritic patients when synthetic D-phenylalanine, a variant of the natural amino acid L-phenylalanine, was administered, the study was however uncontrolled and there were no groups given placebos at the same time. Four to five weeks was the time it took for the analgesic and pain alleviating affects of the substance to become apparent at dosage levels of 250 mg administered 3 to 4 times daily to patients. Research done by other groups of scientist at the preliminary stage on other human subjects indicates the pain relieving effect of the synthetic compound D-phenylalanine and its possible use to treat the symptoms of osteoarthritis in patients should therefore not be overlooked. The human body contains natural pain relieving compounds called enkephalins and the enzymes in the body that rapidly denature these compounds are retarded in their action by the D-phenylalanine, thus this substance has an indirect effect on the pain control mechanism in the body. The natural enkephalins are therefore in a better position to systematically relieve pain, when these enzymes are inhibited by the synthetic amino acid taken in as a supplement. Due to the probable ability of protein in food to interfere with the assimilation of phenylalanine into the nervous system and the brain the synthetic amino acid should be ingested between meals, for optimal beneficial effects. Supplements and products that are marked DL-phenylalanine or DLPA contain the D-phenylalanine along with another active form of the amino acid called L-phenylalanine and this combination can be used as a supplement for the treatment of pain induced by osteoarthritis.
Supplements using bovine cartilage have been mooted as possible treatment options for patients with osteoarthritis so some research seems to suggest. The alleviation of the symptoms of osteoarthritis was observed in a group of people administered bovine cartilage through injections and via external applications, however, there was no placebo control group to compare the results with. The prolonged and continual administration of bovine cartilage show a significant improvement in a group of patients with osteoarthritis so confirms a 10-year study conducted in Europe. The correct dosage levels for the administration of bovine cartilage is still unverified and it may differ from one patient to the next.
The pain reliving action of DMSO (dimethyl sulfoxide) has been observed in some studies, though its utilization in therapy still generates a controversy, as far as pain relief in osteoarthritis and in its action as an anti-inflammatory compound in the meantime some researchers have suggested the topical and external administration of DMSO to patients suffering from osteoarthritis. The potential benefits of the substance is not in its role in the active healing and restoration of damaged cartilage in the joints, the compound DMSO has a role in pain reduction through its ability in inhibiting the nervous transmission of sensations of pain from the affected areas to the brain.
Similar in action to many medications utilized for their anti-inflammatory actions and playing a similar role to many analgesic non steroidal drugs (NSAIDS) possessing anti-inflammatory actions, the potential of the boswellia herb to deal with inflammation is unique and natural, and the herb has been suggested for use with patient suffering from osteoarthritis. However, the potential utilization of the herb in people with osteoarthritis is largely unknown as there are no corresponding medical researches using the herb on human subjects. The greatest benefit of this herb as an anti-inflammatory mediation will no doubt lie in the absence of ulceration to the stomach and other irritations observed in the use of drugs like the NSAIDs, especially when these are used over prolonged periods of time in patients.
According to traditional medical systems, a connective tissue bolstering or strengthening property and an anti-arthritic action have always been attributed to the horsetail herb which is very high in the its content of the mineral silicon. As far as the patients with osteoarthritis are concerned however, medical studies have not been as yet conducted to attribute any potential cure to horsetail and to suggest the use of the horsetail herb or any of its extracts to treat symptoms.
The pain reducing abilities and the anti-inflammatory action of the white willow herb are well documented. Its unique trait being its enduring and persisting pain alleviating property especially when compared to a synthetic analgesic like aspirin even if the pain beating actions of willow are commonly thought to kick in very slowly in patients. When a comparison of the analgesic properties of this herb was done with one groups of patients using placebos, the researchers carrying out the double-blind and controlled study observed that a product containing as its active ingredients the white willow herb and other herbs including the black cohosh, the guaiac herb-scientifically Guaiacum officinale, and also containing the bark of the aspen along with sarsaparilla, easily reduced the pain due to osteoarthritis in the patients. Professional practitioners of natural medical systems suggest dosages of sufficient daily amounts of products containing the white willow herb with at least 100 mg of salicin in total.
In the topical treatment of pain due to osteoarthritis, external applications of the creams made from the cayenne peppers, have been used, the active ingredient in this herb is the capsaicin, which causes a burning sensation and aids in the alleviation of pain. This cream has been confirmed in its effectiveness by researchers through a double blind study and the cream that they administered during the trail generally has a capsaicin-active ingredient-level of 0.025-0.075% in all the creams used.
Toxins exuded in the intestines can interfere with the formation of normal cartilage in the body, the release of these toxins into the body is apparently blocked by the saponins which are active compounds found in the yucca herb, thus the research suggest that these compounds can possibly play a positive role against osteoarthritis in patients. This includes the potential of yucca to minimize the symptoms of osteoarthritis in patients so a preliminary double-blind study has indicated. However, to relieve symptoms of osteoarthritis in patients, the use of yucca has been advocated and encouraged only by a few studies and research works.
Whenever extreme irritation and pain ensue due to osteoarthritis the various homeopathic remedies given below can be effectively and beneficially employed. Where chronic and acute cases of the pain and discomfort are concerned, the advise of a professional practitioner can be sought for a constitutional and holistic remedy, suitable to a particular individual as the case may be.
Other beneficial herbs
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